Climate changes and the continuing drought worry many in California. What new strategies do you believe would ensure that California is able to both satisfy its water needs and protect the environment? Please be specific.
The issue is not climate change; the issue is global warming. Climate change is just one symptom of the larger question of global warming. Further, it must be understood that global warming is happening, it is caused by humans and it is a threat to humanity. All earth science institutions in the world support these facts; none deny human causes nor the threat.
California will have progressively less water, longer droughts, and higher temperatures. The approach to water in the past has been to build more dams and reservoirs--surface storage. Unfortunately with historic temperatures loss of water to evaporation has been about 5 feet a year on surface storage. The character of the climate in the state will change with longer droughts, higher temperatures, and occasional catastrophic storms rather than our normal rainy seasons.
This means we must stop building surface storage for water and instead study our valley aquifers for geologic character, quality and quantity of water. We must build a distribution system to capture flood water from occasional large storms and move that water to the aquifer for passive, planned/constructed sumps or pumping stations to bank the water in the aquifers. Also, the state should work with farmers and universities to improve individual conservation of water. 80% of the water that is currently being used in the state is for agriculture; so we must assure the quantity and quality of the required water, but at the same time recognize that we must avoid over-pumping in the valley and over-planting of new land without budgeted water sources.
We must recognize that population will outrun our ability to confront the problems we have created with global warming. This problem will become even more extreme, of course, if we do not confront global warming on the national and international level. It is very important that the public becomes aware and demands action. In my district this is particularly important because we are the watershed for most of the state.
The state needs to recognize that we must rethink and address the needs of our watershed. Water can no longer be harvested without significant investment in the health of our watershed. Traditional clearcutting must be outlawed and workers put in the forests on an on-going basis to keep the understory thinned to optimal levels.
What are your top three fiscal priorities, recognizing the need to balance the state’s income with its spending?
Instead of being so concerned with spending by the state we must become more concerned about the unfair taxing of our citizens by the economy. Over the last 35 years the wages of the middle class and the lowest paid workers have been flat. The state-passed $15 minimum wage must be implemented as quickly as possible to a living wage; then we must grow those wages with the pace of the economy. In this way, rather than encouraging more state spending, citizens will be able to invest in life decisions that are personally relevant.
A California single payer healthcare system has the same potential to put money back in the pockets of our citizens. Other industrial nations provide all their citizens healthcare, with better results at half the cost. That should be our goal in California. For a family of four this means $8,000 a year put back in their family budgets for buying a home or educating their children. Between wages and reasonable healthcare the middle class will begin to grow again.
As I described in question one, planning for water and confronting global warming is must.
There are a variety of proposals to raise California's minimum wage. Many of these proposals face opposition from business groups who are concerned that they would kill jobs. Do you support increasing the minimum wage in California? In your answer please explain your position on the relationship between wages and jobs with specific reference to the situation in your district.
During the last 35 years, minimum wage workers have not received a raise largely because, with the help of government, business has destroyed the labor movement that assured wages grew with the economy. The business community in my region cannot understand why small businesses struggle so hard to survive. When 20--30% of the working people in our region earn sub-poverty wages how can those working people patronize the small business community or participate in the community as a whole? We have killed the golden goose--the consumer.
I would ask the businessman, say a rancher, if for the last 35 years you had not been able to raise the cost of a pound of beef, how many ranchers would there be in California? It's time to recognize that jobs aren't killed by higher wages, they are killed by lower demand from lower paid workers. If your customers are only from the top 10% of the economy then it might not matter that the other 90% can't do business with you; but if you are selling to the general public you might want as much money as possible in the hands of your fellow citizens to spend in your business. Go to the US Department of Labor web site where the myth that higher wages kill jobs is discredited by numerous independent studies.
Many Californians are concerned about the influence of money in politics. What can the state legislature do to ensure that decision-making by elected officials is not swayed by moneyed interests at the expense of constituents?
We must act as a state to limit campaign contributions. I personally accept no more than $200 from any one source in my campaign so that I might speak openly about what I believe and will work toward. I will be happy to work for the interest of business if it serves the interests of the people I represent first and foremost. I don't think it is a matter of money buying influence as it is that money buys the entire agenda.