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Governor Schwarzenegger and Lawmakers Tour Calexico Damage

Gov. Arnold Gov. Schwarzenegger has toured the quake-damaged border city of Calexico and signed an executive order providing additional assistance to Imperial County.

Sunday’s magnitude-7.2 earthquake in Baja California caused extensive damage in the region and killed two people in nearby Mexicali, Mexico.

Schwarzenegger proclaimed a state of emergency on Monday and an executive order on Thursday providing more assistance for Imperial County. He says California is also helping Mexico with cots, blankets, pillows, personal hygiene kits and generators.

Calexico City Manager Victor Carrillo said Tuesday that his city suffered at least $17.4 million in damage and that the number could grow after inspectors finish their assessment.

Also touring the damage, Assemblymember V. Manuel Prez and U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer.

“My staff and I are here to help however we can,” said Prez. “I am committed to pursuing whatever strategies are needed – including legislative remedies — to provide some relief so we can repair needed infrastructure, help our downtown business owners get back to work, get kids back to school, and return to normal life as soon as possible.”

Currently, the downtown business area in Calexico is closed to the public, with nine buildings ‘red-tagged’ and many others moderately damaged.

Meanwhile, water infrastructure is a priority concern for the city, with $17.4 million in repairs needed to the water and wastewater treatment facility. While immediate water needs are being met, rising summer temperatures will place increased strain on the impaired system. In addition, due to a broken sewer main, 200,000 gallons of raw sewage has flowed into the New River, furthering imperiling community health adjacent to the River.

After the downtown tour with Senator Boxer, Prez then visited Jefferson Elementary School, which suffered extensive damage, and met County Supervisors for a lunch meeting.

“The state of emergency declaration and today’s executive order from the Governor are much needed and important steps to help us rebuild and repair,” said Prez. “Now we need to make sure our communities gain access to the full spectrum of supports and resources available.”

In order to attend the earthquake briefing and tour, the Assemblyman was excused from the day’s regular legislative session. In his absence, a bill he jointly authored, SB 401, was brought to vote and passed 44-20 on the Assembly Floor. The bill includes a number of provisions to conform state tax laws to existing federal laws. One provision exempts federal stimulus grants for renewable energy development projects from being treated as taxable income. The other provides tax relief to those who have experienced short sale or foreclosure on their primary residence, so that this forgiven debt is not treated as taxable income.

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