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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – As part of his plan to reclaim California’s position as “the most innovative, well-managed, progressive, and economically vibrant state in the union,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed the elimination of 88 state committees, one of which is the California Credit Union Advisory Committee. The CU Advisory Committee was created in 1996 in conjunction with the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI), which overlooks banks, credit unions, mortgage companies, and savings and loan institutions. The seven-member committee, mostly comprised of credit union CEOs, was established to advise the DFI Credit Union Division on matters relating to the credit union industry. Appointed members serve a two-year term, and membership in the Credit Union Advisory Committee is voluntary. Members do not receive compensation or reimbursement for expenses. “We do it for free and it serves a purpose,” said Ron Fong, director of state government affairs for the California Credit Union League. “Our league members have advised us that they want the CU Advisory to stay where it is and that it serves a valid function.”As chief lobbyist for state issues in California, Fong is aware of the implications of the proposed shutdown for credit unions. “We are opposed to the governor’s stance,” he said. “To our industry, it makes sense that we have a committee of CU professionals that keeps in very close contact with the DFI commission. The industry is constantly changing. It’s a good idea to have a committee of credit union professionals who know what’s going on.” According to Fong, the DFI is a distinctive agency that the League actively lobbies and educates on “any regulatory issue that keeps credit unions viable. Part of our office’s job is to lobby and watch over the DFI-they are the regulators. The DFI’s job is to approve all regulations involved with credit unions,” Fong said. The function of the committee, he said, is to educate the DFI commissoner about regulation or legislation that is needed-or more important, regulation that is not needed. “Governor Schwarzenegger’s big thing coming into California is to cut costs and modernize government,” Fong explained. “He wants to revamp government all together, and one of those steps is to get rid of committees that cost the state money and that don’t do a lot of work. We agree, but we distinguish our credit union advisory committee from those committees he’s talking about.” Fong feels it’s important to point out that while Gov. Schwarzenegger is trying to save the state a lot of money, the cost of the CU Advisory Committee to the state is minimal. “We don’t think we belong on that list,” Fong said. “We are going to be doing heavy lobbying within the next month, working with legislators at the state capitol to help educate the governor and let him know that our advisory committee serves a very valid purpose.” “This is a `governor’s proposal;’ we do not know at this time if it will come to pass,” said Alana Golden, public information officer at the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) in Sacramento, Calif. “Of course, we will maintain an open line of communication with the credit union industry on a voluntary basis.”

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