Toni Atkins’ Tenure

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, the first San Diegan to serve in that post, will be forced to leave the assembly next year under term limits, but she’s not done with politics and says her future is in Sacramento. 

Atkins admits the legislature fell short in some areas, but overall it’s been a pretty productive year, even if the movement was incremental.

Her passion for the issues she brought to the San Diego City Council, she took to Sacramento and became Speaker of the Assembly.

Her tenure as Speaker will last only 18-months, but she’s enjoying every minute.

"I think I’ve been pretty effective working with Governor Brown which has been interesting. He’s an iconic individual," she said.

But there were setbacks, climate change for example.

"I know a lot of the focus was on what we weren’t able to accomplish in the climate change legislation but, you know, California is a leading voice in climate change."

And the effort to up the gas tax because revenues are falling because of more fuel efficient cars. She said Ronald Reagan had to increase taxes when they were critically needed and money is needed for the state’s transportation infrastructure. 

"We can make the case it’s critically needed, our roads, we are at a 60-billion deficit in our state roads, our local roads about a 78 billion dollar deficit," Atkins said.

"I think that’s the message that got lost, we will get there but it’s going to take a little bit more time to figure out how to help families." 

New goals were set for renewable energy, 50 percent by 2030.

Legislation was passed to increase affordable housing. An earned income tax credit bill to lift 50,000 people out of deep  poverty.

Grants for middle class scholarships and more funding for education.

And for San Diego? 

"I have a few pieces of legislation that are important. The permanency of our San Diego river conservancy, the pacific to plate which is the fisherman’s markets which will be statewide."

With the Democrats losing their supermajority, it became more difficult to move big items.

"It’s right that we do things incrementally as we go because we need to asses where we are every step of the way," she said.

And Atkins loved being Speaker of the Assembly.

"I’m really mindful of what it means to have been the first speaker from San Diego, and that’s what drives me."

Atkins will be Speaker until she’s termed out next spring. 

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