District 55 —California State AssemblyNovember 8, 2016 —California General Election
California State AssemblyDistrict 55
Share This Page
About this office
Below are the top contributors that gave money to support the candidate(s).
- Creating a dedicated freight truck roadway parallel to the 60 Freeway by linking existing underused four-lane service roads, thereby reducing 60 freeway traffic and streamlining freight truck traffic flow
- Supporting a sustainable healthy economy my shifting financial support and tax relief away from the wealthy and corporations, and toward the middle class and small businesses
- Shifting away from finite energy sources (coal, oil) and toward renewable energy (solar, wind)
I was born in Covina and have lived most of my life in the San Gabriel/Pomona Valley area, attending public schools in West Covina and Covina. I currently live in Walnut, where I became an active voice in City affairs immediately, twice running for City Council, and continuing to advocate for protection of the last remaining open space in the city. More recently, I joined the fight to protect the city of Walnut from the adverse effects of a proposed NFL stadium in the City of Industry.
I enrolled in the University of Southern California at the age of 16, earning a bachelor's degree in psychology. I subsequently earned a master's degree in psychology from California State University, Los Angeles. I've worked for 28 years as a social worker for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.
I'm also an active voice for working Californians, serving in several capacities with SEIU Local 721 and one of its predecessor unions, SEIU Local 535. As a worksite steward for the past 25 years, and for 13 years as a Local 535 statewide Executive Board delegate, I've stood up for my co-workers not only to management but also to leaders of the union itself. As a bargaining team member in contract negotiations several times since 1995, including serving as bargaining team chair in 2007, I've fought for manageable workloads for child welfare social workers. As a member political activist, I've visited the State Capitol on nearly an annual basis since 1992 to fight to protect funding for child welfare services, which are annually threatened with cuts despite State analyses that show that social worker caseloads are over twice the numbers necessary to ensure that at-risk children and families are adequately supervised.
- Cynthia Aguirre, Member, La Habra City School District Board of Education
- Anthony Rendon, Speaker of the Assembly
- Rose Espinoza, Councilmember, City of La Habra
- Jay Chen, Member, Mount San Antonio College Board of Trustees
- Jorge Marquez, Mayor pro Tempore, City of Covina
- Mike Gatto, Member of the State Assembly, 43rd District
- Andrew Rodriguez, Councilmember, City of Walnut
- California Park and Recreation Society
- Service Employees International Union, Local 721
- Service Employees International Union, California State Council
- Democratic Party of Orange County
- Chino Valley Democratic Club
- Tri-Counties Democratic Club
- California Democratic Party
- Orange County Labor Federation, AFL-CIO
- California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO
- Communication Workers of America, Southern California Council
- Democratic Foundation of Orange County
- Ben Wong, Councilmember (retired), City of West Covina
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.
Because water is essential for everyone's survival, we have to look at water access as a right of every Californian.
In addition to ongoing conservation education and local conservation measures, we need to protect the water we have by preventing contamination with toxic chemicals. Our current water shortage only underscores the need for existing regulations on businesses over drainage, as well as prohibitions on releasing contaminated water or toxic chemicals into the ground where it may commingle with previously uncontaminated groundwater.
Technological interventions like cloud seeding or saltwater desalination cannot bring us out of this water shortage. Cloud seeding can only be expected to bring small increases in precipitation, and desalination remains very expensive.
I've looked at measures currently taken by the State, as well as the Governor's proposed plan, and what I see is little if any application of the State's already-declared eminent domain over California's water supply. Historically, heavily-populated but less water-rich areas have had to negotiate with more water-rich ones in counties like Mono and Inyo to obtain an adequate water supply for the residents of those heavily-populated areas. But exporting water to distant counties provides a benefit for those less-populated but water-rich areas beyond the monetary compensation, by reducing the need for more people to move near those areas, preserving open space and a quiet, rural atmosphere that makes those areas desirable places to live for those who already reside there.
Rather than negotiating, it's not clear to me that the State is fully utilizing its power to claim a portion of the water in these areas for public use as provided under the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution, to ensure that no Californian goes thirsty and no family farm runs dry. The State can then determine just compensation to the water source municipalities based on local water supply rates.
What are your top three fiscal priorities, recognizing the need to balance the state’s income with its spending?
The middle class is the backbone of our economy. A sustainable healthy economy depends on support for the middle class, which is the largest group of consumers in a market-based economic system. This means we need to shift financial support and tax relief away from corporations and the wealthy and toward the middle class and small businesses.
California's current taxation system does the opposite. For decades we have relied primarily on revenue-raising measures that hit the middle class and working class the hardest, like increasing sales taxes, to close budget gaps. On the other hand, we've left gaping loopholes for wealthy special interests virtually untouched. Let's look at some examples of the unfairness in California's tax system:
1) In Alaska, oil companies are charged a 25% severance tax for oil extracted from their wells across the state. In Texas, another state which has faced large budget deficits for several years, the oil severance tax is 12.1%. Here in California, it's 0%. California is the only state among the 22 oil-producing states that does not charge wealthy oil companies for compromising the landscape by drilling on its lands.
2) Wealthy property owners are paying a fraction per square foot of what middle-class single-family homeowners pay in property taxes, taking advantage of a huge loophole in the reassessment language of the property tax code that was left in place when wealthy real estate investor Howard Jarvis wrote Proposition 13 in 1978 (now known officially as the Jarvis-Gann Amendment). This loophole allows wealthy and corporate property owners to avoid reassessment upon change of ownership by one or both of two means: a) buying in partnership and selling in minority share; and/or b) temporary corporate merger between the buyer and seller of commercial property. Property tax revenue numbers clearly show that, over the past 30 years, single-family homeowners' contribution to the state's property tax rolls has increased as a percentage of the total revenue collected, while commercial property owners' contribution has decreased. They're paying mostly 1970s- and 1980s-era property tax rates (some even paying three-digit figures), while single-family homeowners pay 1990s- and later-era rates. The middle class is therefore subsidizing the wealthy.
3) California's corporations continue to pay a flat income tax rate that is lower than the rates of some individual Californians.
Business groups and their advocates claim that lowering taxes for corporations increases job creation, and that raising their tax rates will cause them to move out of state. To show the fallacy of this argument we need only go next door to the state of Nevada, where corporate tax rates are lower than here in California, yet the unemployment rate is higher than California's. Politicians who support corporations (or vice versa) often try to portray themselves as protecting small businesses. But small businesses don't have access to the kinds of tax loopholes described above - they're basically in the same boat as middle-class working people.
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.
In 1968, a full-time minimum-wage worker earning $1.60 per hour could live self-sufficiently. By contrast, a full-time employee today must earn nearly $16 per hour to be able to afford to pay for basic living expenses (housing, utilities, food, etc) without assistance. Thus, we are already subsidizing full-time minimum-wage workers through public assistance. And most of these minimum-wage jobs are offered not by small businesses, but by rather large corporations such as fast-food chains that make billions in profits annually and can afford to pay their workers a living wage. Large cities such as Seattle have shown that raising the minimum wage has not cost jobs, nor has it had a significant impact on prices (though surveys show that most Americans are willing to pay a little more to support a living wage for workers).
The recently-signed SB 3, raising the minimum wage in modest increments until it reaches $15 per hour in 2022, and indexing further increases beyond 2022 to cost-of-living increases, is a reasonable solution. It will reduce significantly the taxpayer burden for public assistance by making more working families financially self-sufficient.
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?
I share the concerns of most Americans that the wealthy have too much political power to maintain a democracy.
I support the California DISCLOSE Act (AB 700), which will require paid media campaign advertisements to list the true names of the top three donors to the campaign.
I support a resolution by the voters of California calling for a Constitutional amendment overturning the Citizens United v FEC (2010) decision.
Ultimately, I'd also like to see at least two more reforms:
1) a requirement that all post-primary campaign advertising must include only the name and/or image of the supported candidate and neither the name nor the image of the opposed candidate; and
2) a public campaign financing system with a mandatory reimbursement mechanism for any candidate who is elected after using public campaign funds for that election campaign.
I believe that the middle class is the backbone of the economy, working people are the backbone of business, and the consumer is the backbone of capitalism.
I believe that true democracy requires us to protect rather than restrict the right to vote. I believe that true democracy requires equal opportunity for all, and as such a democratic government must play a role in ensuring equal opportunity.
I believe that one of the hallmarks of democracy is the ability to admit and learn from mistakes, and therefore we cannot deny the mistakes we have made in our history by burying them under a cloak of false patriotism. True patriotism is not arrogance. It does not allow for us to believe that we are better than others - only that we are standing for what we believe is right for all.
I am not interested in protecting MY liberty - I'm interested in protecting EVERYONE'S liberty. We must all share our communities, our state, and our nation with others, and therefore we maximize all our liberties by caring about others as well as about ourselves.