Assemblyman Das Williams talks business with Chamber of Commerce
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: January 02, 2013
Assemblyman Das Williams told those attending the December Good Morning Santa Paula that he may be considered new on an individual basis, but his family has been in Ojai for four generations.
And he had worked the local area when an aide to now State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, so, “When redistricting was going on I was cheering for Ojai and Santa Paula to be in my district... and as of a week ago I represent you” in the 37th District.
Williams was the feature speaker at the Chamber of Commerce-sponsored breakfast meeting held at Garman’s Irish Pub.
Williams was first elected to the State Assembly in 2010. Later the former junior high school teacher took over the Santa Clara River Valley portion of the district from Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, who now represents the newly formed 44th District. Williams holds a master’s degree in Environmental Science & Management with a focus on water pollution, planning processes, and land-use law at UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management.
The state of the state, he said, is “on the mend... it’s been a difficult two years” that saw a $26 billion state deficit and “an inability to paper over the problem.” The past solution of borrowing just “deepened the problem and delayed the inevitable,” said Williams.
Fiscal times were so hard that the Democratic majority voted for $18 billion in cuts to the then-$134 billion budget, now slashed further to the present $91 billion. “The good news,” said Williams, “is we shielded K-12 grade” education, but past reductions were “cutting through the fat into the muscle... and getting awfully close to the bone.”
Voter approved Proposition 30 will help education, and the state will be in the black for the first time in a decade next year, “important good news for the future of our prosperity.”
Business is being encouraged by “some very tough and far reaching” changes to costs, including workers’ compensation, which Williams said studies have proven is out of date on calculating damages and determining other costs. Both injured workers and business will benefit, the latter by the elimination of an anticipated cost increase of up 30 percent.
“If you don’t see” such changes, Williams said business owners should “shop around” for workers comp. “As with most things in politics there are winners and losers,” but Williams said the goal now is to reach a midpoint that benefits the worker while not unduly burdening business.
Another complicating factor of worker’s compensation is the dishonest reporting of some businesses that categorize employees such as construction workers as secretaries in order to pay lower premiums. Such reductions then are passed on to other businesses: “If you’re honest you’re paying more than those not being honest... and that causes the cost of the system to rise.”