Pizza & Politics: Ian Calderon Speaks at RHC
April 18, 2017
Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon of California State Assembly, and representative of the 57th district spoke at a Pizza and Politics event in the student lounge April 13.
Calderon is a democrat, a Whittier native, and the youngest Majority Leader in the history of California. His youth was a point of focus in his presentation, speaking of the Millennial caucus recently created in the State Assembly, a Millennial referring person born after 1980 and before 2000. He also addressed issues youth face in changing legislature, and until recently, the lack of representation they have had in the Assembly.
Calderon explained that he visits colleges at such Pizza and Politics events to give young voters in his district direct contact to their legislative representatives. He used his time speaking at Rio Hondo to touch on a number of topics ranging from Planned Parenthood to Social Security, and listened for students political concerns.
“Rather than waiting for you [millennial voters] to come to the legislature, come to the government, the legislature comes to you,” said Calderon.
Calderon explained the importance of having people of his generation have their voices heard, and how dismissive he believes former legislators have been of the youth, citing the monetary burdens former legislations have ignored and pushed back for newer generations to handle.
“They think we’re stupid, like we can’t make decisions for ourselves. They want us to continue to be part of a system that doesn’t work for us, that doesn’t really cater to us. Yet we’re important when they want us to come vote for somebody who’s gonna perpetuate that system,” a frustrated and passionate Calderon said. “In the end it’s your future, you’re going to have to live in it.”
Calderon touched on the cost of college, and was prompted by a student asking about potential legislation to control the rising cost of textbooks. While he admitted there was currently no legislation addressing textbook costs, he spoke about his concerns regarding student debt, third party loans, and the State Assembly’s attempt to ease those concerns.
“I know kids who have an interest rate of 23% on [third party loans], and that’s a lot of debt that you’re going to have to pay down when you graduate,” Calderon lamented. “Right now there’s a proposal by the Assembly which moves around different pots of money that we have in the state, and over the next year, we’ll try to create a system with less debt than you are [expected to have] now.”
The California assemblyman addressed the issue of Planned Parenthood next, and while admitting the issue was more of a federal concern, defended the non-profit organization and the array of benefits and services it provides women. He clarified the controversial service of abortion the organization is known for, stating that it only accounts for 7 percent of its funding.
“When it comes to planned parenthood, the abortion aspect is so small in relation to the health care benefits they actually provide,” Calderon said. “We’re committed to Planned Parenthood and being able to provide access. A lot of my friends…they accessed Planned Parenthood all the time and that was something that was important to them, so I want to make sure that was something that continued to stay active in our state.”
Another question Calderon explored was the issue of Social Security and the concern held by many young people due to current projections stating there would be no funding left for future retirees to benefit from. Calderon could only give an unenthusiastic and sober response, saying that the burden may fall on the youth, and that the government is unreliable.
“I think [we are] in a lot of ways, as I would characterize it, ‘on our own,’ because I don’t see the federal government doing anything about it. At least not within the next few years, at least not in this administration, [does] it seem like there are going to be those types of reforms,” Calderon said.
A major concern on the Rio Hondo campus in the current administration, and
something the campus itself has attempted to protect itself from, is the influx of deportation. The recent actions students of Rio Hondo have taken to make the school a Sanctuary Campus, protecting the identities and information of undocumented students.
Calderon addressed the controversial California Senate bill 54, that would make California a sanctuary state, as well as addressing the criticism from the current administration, including the fact that in recent interview, President Donald Trump threatened to defund the state if the bill were passed.
“I suspect it’s going to pass the senate…and I suspect it’s going to pass the assembly. I don’t know if it is going to get signed by the governor or not because we are in a way playing a little bit of Russian Roulette with the federal government,” Calderon explained. “In the end we accept the most amount of money from the federal government, but we also put in the most amount of money.”
“There are state’s rights. In terms of the ability for them to defund us, I think it would be very difficult, and to be honest with [the audience], if they tried to defund us because of anything immigration related, we would probably sue the federal government. And due to states rights, and [because] we believe in our interpretation under the constitution, that we would win that fight,” Calderon said. He went on to describe immigrants as a vital and powerful source in our economy, citing a story in Alabama that had immigrants flee the state, only for institutions like agriculture to decline without immigrant support.
Calderon also took time to criticize the current administration, as well as President Donald Trump and his often controversial but ultimately meritless claims.
“From this president and from what I’ve look at in this administration, there’s what they do and then there’s what they say, and those don’t always necessarily line up…Donald Trump has said a lot, this administration has talked a lot, but still have not done it,” Calderon argued. “It’s more about what he says versus what he does.”
Calderon encouraged students of Rio Hondo, as well as any person living in the 57th, district to contact him with concerns, both personal and political. He is expected to continue attending events like this throughout the district.
Attendees were provided Domino’s pizza and beverages. Students were able to talk to Calderon in person following the presentation, and collect literature regarding internship opportunities, ways to contact the California legislature and information about state granted financial aid.