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.
I support creation of a groundwater management program that acknowledges that clean, safe water is a right, not a privilege and that water does not belong to any one group, entity or so-called water rights holders. In a state with severe weather and frequent droughts, water should not be considered a commodity for sale, but a right to be protected for everyone. The state has, shockingly, never had a groundwater management program and as a result, we still have the “wild west" when it comes to water. I think we need to continue towards a system that eliminates incentives to waste water, in both agriculture and urban use. And I believe in investment in conservation, as well as planning policies that more responsibly take into account strains on our water supply created by new development, new agricultural and new industrial uses.
There is no greater long term challenge than global warming. I helped fight to pass SB 32 and SB 350, as they passed but also in their stronger forms. I believe that these are well-balanced approaches that don’t stifle progress and job growth. In fact, many climate change olives have led to the creation of thousands and thousands of clean technology and green energy jobs.
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 need to keep the pressure on the US Congress to overturn the right-wing court's decision in Citizen's United. I have been a leader in the effort calling upon Congress to take that action and I believe a newly constituted Supreme Court will overturn that decision. While it is an important start, unless and until we remove the powerful money players from politics, decision-making will either be swayed by those who have the financial resources to influence campaigns, or the public will continue to believe and perceive that money is buying decision-makers and the policies that are implemented by our elected officials.
While I believe that most of my colleagues are committed to doing what is in the best interests of their constituents, the influences of the powerful moneyed-interests are still impacting what should be decision-making for the people, not the corporations and special interests they control. I have and will continue to support public financing of elections, but recognize that as long as money is deemed to be speech, the ability to remove money from the process is quite limited. If people know who is behind an issue or a candidate, the better the opportunity to expose those influences.In the meantime, the more transparency we can create, the better for our democracy.
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.
I supported and voted for the increase in the minimum wage. Historically, when wages are increased, the economy has improved. When people have money to spend, they will and our local businesses will thrive as people demand the goods and services that make our economy flourish. This is true in the 19th district as well. When people have money in their pockets, they spend it and our local businesses, restaurants, tourist economy and service industries are the beneficiaries of this spending.
What are your top three fiscal priorities, recognizing the need to balance the state’s income with its spending?
1-We need to protect and ensure our investment in our education system---from early care and education through higher education
2-We need to provide a 21st century infrastructure with quality streets, roads, public transit and servicesto assure that we can transport goods and services quickly and effectively while reducing our carbon footprint to well-below 1990 levels, as required by the passage of SB 32 and other legislation I supported during the past year to address global climate change.
3- Reform our criminal justice system's dependence on expensive and failed incarceration policies that have cost the state billions of dollars without rehabilitating prisoners so they can re-enter society as law-abiding and contributing members of our communities once they are released.