In 2017 Ben became chair of the Senate Education Committee, which is responsible for legislation affecting K-12 education, higher education, and early childhood education. It is one of the busiest committees of the legislature, hearing more than 400 bills in a two-year session.
Ben served as one of three members on the Senate Budget Committee on Education in the 2015-16 session. During that time, state spending increased significantly for K-12 schools and community colleges, and tuition was stable at the University of California and the California State Universities. The committee also prioritized increased enrollment of California students at public colleges and universities.
California is experiencing a shortage of teachers, especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Ben authored legislation, SB 436, to address this shortage through a creative program that recruits and trains professionals working in STEM fields to become classroom teachers. Through his work on the Education Committee he helped secure $25 million in funding for the teacher credentialing program.
Ben is a lead author with Senator Steve Glazer of the Higher Education Facilities Bond Act of 2018 (SB 483), which would provide a much-needed $2 billion to improve and renovate public college the University of California and California State University campuses.
High-interest student loans are a crushing burden for millions of Californians. Ben is authoring legislation, SB 674, that would incentivize banks to refinance student loans at lower rates. The Los Angeles Times recently featured this legislation; you can read the article here. And you can watch the press conference held by Ben and State Treasurer John Chiang about this bill on Facebook.
As a strong proponent of career technical education, Ben has fought for increased state funding to expand career tech programs. He’s also led the effort to support the Southern California Regional Occupational Center (SoCalROC) in the South Bay that serves high school youths and adults seeking job training skills. He authored legislation, SB 786 in 2015, to provide state funding for this facility and continues to work to ensure its long-term stability.
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