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League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund and asked of all candidates for this office.
Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).
Questions & Answers
1. How would you prioritize the fiscal choices the Legislature must make to align the state’s income and spending?
This May, the State Assembly and the State Senate unanimously approved Governor Brown's rainy day fund proposal. With an economic surplus for the first time in years, it is a prudent proposal to put money aside in times of plenty to be accessed in times of need, and to pay down some of the state's debt. The Governor's proposal addresses the most pressing short-term and long-term fiscal predicaments facing California.
Because state finances are largely dependent upon sales tax and income tax, state coffers are, to a large degree, at the mercy of the market. As economic activity varies over time and as typical business cycles take their course, state revenues have been volatile and have varied, sometimes drastically, from year to year. The Governor's rainy day fund proposal goes a long way toward creating a system to smooth the peaks and valleys created by economic booms and busts that the state has experienced in the past and toward creating economic predictability in California.
The largest fiscal emergency facing the state in the long-term is funding our state employees' and teachers' pensions and benefits obligations. To do so will require pension reform and a serious commitment by the state legislature and all Californians to meet our commitments. The State's liability continues to grow and due to our legal obligation to fulfill our pension and benefit commitments prior to others, as payouts increase and require an ever-increasing portion of the budget, other programs and services are increasingly squeezed out of the funding equation. If we do not make reforms that make the system more equitable for all Californians our state will suffer. The long-term solution to the pensions and benefits problem we face must be one in which all interested parties make more significant contributions to keep the system solvent and to allow other programs and services to receive the funding needed to function and serve the people of California.
In addition, the legislature must (continue to) pass laws that make the state function more efficiently. For example, in 2013 I authored AB 989 which allows the Teachers' Retirement Board to issue benefits account statements via electronic delivery rather than by mail. While this may seem like a simple change in the law, it is common sense legislation like this that will allow the state to realize the benefits of technological advance and reap their operational and financial rewards.
2. Given our current drought condition, concern for water rights and usage is an important issue. What solutions would you support to address our water problems?
The "water issue" can be thought of most simply in terms of supply and demand. Over the long-term, supply cannot meet demand in California. This is the case due to a number of factors, including a growing population, major population centers existing in parts to the state that cannot provide for their own water needs, unpredictable weather and rain patterns, an antiquated water storage and distribution system, our state's indispensable but water intensive agriculture sector, environmental and biological concerns, the fact that water rights have entitled consumers in the aggregate more water than is available, etc. Because water is an essential component of life, one must think about water in terms of needs versus wants. We must first allocate water to fulfill the needs of our state and our people before allocating it for discretionary usage. Primary uses for water (e.g. drinking and farming) based on need must be given priority over secondary uses for water based on want (e.g. landscaping and recreation).
3. California high school students rank lower than many states in student performance. What do you see as the ongoing role of the Legislature in addressing this problem?
There is no question that education must be improved in California. The Local Control Funding Formula will allow for greater fiscal control and decision making at the local level to best serve students. The greatest understanding of local students' and communities' needs exist at the local level.
California faces many challenges that other states do not. Our population of over 38 million people is incredibly diverse. This reality provides many opportunities and poses many challenges to our education system. The many cultures and languages that make California what it is create heterogeneity in our schools that can make teaching and learning challenging.
We must consider education holistically and view the outputs of education through the lenses of workforce development, economic development, crime, physical and mental health and wellbeing, familial impacts, social engagement, civic participation, community building, etc.
There is not a simple fix to the problem we face. The legislature can influence education directly and indirectly and take steps to improve not only test scores, but the other elements of a well-functioning society that education is inextricably linked to. A holistic approach to educating our youth is the best way to address the issues we face in education and society.
4. What other major issues do you think the Legislature must address? What are your own priorities?
My legislative priorities are to promote job creation, enhance education and workforce development systems, encourage environmentally sustainable regional planning, and work in a bipartisan way to reform state governance.
Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League. Candidates' statements are presented as submitted. References to opponents are not permitted.
Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).
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Created from information supplied by the candidate: May 23, 2014 06:44
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