Undergrads in political science professor Mathew Beckmann’s Introduction to Politics class got an insider’s perspective on California politics when Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D) addressed the class May 10.  Elected to office in 1996, Sanchez holds seats on both the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees and represents the state’s 47th district.  Invited on behalf of the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) in the School of Social Sciences, Sanchez’s visit to campus also included a morning discussion with UCI faculty, graduate students and members of the community. 

“UCI is ground zero for research in Orange County,” she said as she went on to stress the importance that innovation in technology, healthcare, infrastructure and communication research will play in the future of California. 

She focused on the breakdown of last year’s $800 billion stimulus package as proof, citing funding allocations of $70 billion for energy and environmental program research, $19 billion for healthcare information technology and $7 billion for broadband and wireless expansion. 

When asked what she thought about recent teacher strikes in San Juan Capistrano sparked by on-going state funding cuts, Sanchez responded that budget cuts for education keep her up at night.

 “In principle, my job as a member of Congress  is not to fund K-12 education – that’s a state matter.  As a member of Congress on the Armed Services Committee and the Committee on Homeland Security, I get to worry about national defense and terrorism.  But I still worry, come September, whether or not kids will have schools to attend.” She added that more K-12 education cuts could soon be expected due to less than expected state tax revenues.

On the topic of border issues, Arizona’s new immigration law, and the potential for similar legislation in California, Sanchez said “California will not go backward. Border control has less to do with immigration issues than it does with the large amount of money and drugs being pushed through by Mexican cartels.”  

When asked what it was like to be in chambers when the national healthcare bill passed – a bill which she supported after amendments dealt with some of her concerns including its impact on potential cuts in Medicare funding for the state and in funding for teaching hospitals – she pointed out that “no bill is ever perfect, but we can make changes as we implement the bill over the next three years.”

In her view:  “If it works even half as good as Democrats say it will, it will be the best gift to our nation – ever.” 

--Pictured above: Congresswoman Sanchez talked one-on-one with students, including first year political science major Lisa Lei, following her guest lecture. 
 

 

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