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 remember the 1976-77 California drought was called the worst in the state's history. 1976 was the fourth-driest year on record, which give way to 1977 -- the driest year California had experienced in more than 100 years on record. Take a look at some of the similarities between this severe drought and the current one. Officials with California Department of Water Resources note that while cumulative reservoir storage in 1977 – California’s driest year on record – was approximately five million acre-feet less than today, the state’s population has increased dramatically since that time so the state’s water now must serve far more people. And since 1977 what has the state done to deal with this reoccurring problem? The state’s water delivery infrastructure is antiquated and crumbling and we have no real means of rainwater storage.
I would support shifting money from frivolous projects such as the High Speed Rail and putting those funds toward restoring and updating our water delivery system, increasing our water storage capacity and investing in water recycling and desalination technologies.
As far as the environment, I consider myself an environmentalist. However the over-regulation of the environment is hurting our state’s economy. Environmental regulations need to be in place but they also need to make sense. There is a place where the environment and the people can prosper. California farmers are in danger of becoming extinct because they can't get the water they depend on. Add to this the newly signed Environment Regulations which, by attempting to regulate methane produced by cattle, will likely end dairy farms in the state. California is a state with some of the richest natural resources in the country. Our land is ripe for agriculture. Regulations have only enticed people to leave the state. The state needs reduce these regulations and trust the people of California to do the right thing; if we can do this our state will be restored beyond its former glory.
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?
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.
The government should not be involved in wages paid by private business and industry in any fashion. Evidence shows minimum wage increases disproportionally hurt the people they’re supposed to help. The only thing that an increased minimum wage does is insures small businesses will fail and low-income, unskilled workers will have no jobs; in essence it insures a minimum wage of ZERO!
Being opposed to a minimum wage is not the same as being unconcerned about unskilled workers; in fact it’s the concern for these workers that I am opposed to the minimum wage. And it is because of that concern to maximize employment opportunities that economists oppose the minimum wage. Simply put, I would rather see unskilled workers employed at a market wage – even if that wage is only $5, $6 an hour – that allows them to gain valuable work experience and on-the-job training, than to be unemployed at $0.00 an hour. And unfortunately, a $15 minimum wage maximizes the probability that an unskilled worker will be unemployed at $0.00 an hour instead of being gainfully employed.
What are your top three fiscal priorities, recognizing the need to balance the state’s income with its spending?
California doesn’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. We are the highest taxed state in the nation and businesses in the state not only have to deal with the high taxes but the additional fees and regulations levied by regulatory agencies that are outside of the legislative branch. Many of these regulations, although possibly well intentioned, are causing businesses to flee the state for a more business friendly environment; taking with them good paying jobs and our tax base.
When elected my top three fiscal priorities would be:
1. 1. For the California economy to improve we need to improve the business climate in the state. I feel that the first step in improving this environment is to bring the regulatory agencies, which are currently run by unelected officials with no transparency or oversight, back under the control of the legislature as required by the California Constitution. With the proper oversight I believe that many of these agencies would be reduced or eliminated.
2. 2. We currently are said to have a balanced state budget, on the backs of the wealthiest residents of the state. According to state data the top 1 percent of Californians account for nearly half of the state's income taxes, which in turn accounts for two thirds of general fund taxes. In recent years, capital gains, taxed in the state like any other income, have represented around 10 percent of California's general fund revenues. The legislators prepare our “Balanced Budget” using the expected revenue from those two sources; therefore the budget is based upon the best case scenario which has shown to be less than anticipated. For instance in May the state trimmed its revenue forecast by about $1.9 billion due to April's lagging tax receipts, including a shortfall in personal income taxes — that decline had come in part from stock market fluctuations, which had brought lower capital gains.
We need a two-pronged approach to insuring that our revenue exceeds our spending. First we cannot count on income from the two 1% or tax-payers; if proposition 30 fails the “temporary” tax will end. In addition, we currently are too susceptible to stock market fluctuations so we cannot count on annual increases in capital gains. So we need to reduce and eliminate all the “giveaways” in the state. Government programs that are not essential should be closed down or outsourced to private enterprise thereby reducing the budget.
3. 3. Unfunded government employee pension funds could ultimately bankrupt our state. Although we currently have what is said to be a balanced budget, we also have approximately $367 billion in unfunded pensions. These unsecured pension liabilities are currently being kicked down the road and if not addressed will be paid for by future generations. We need to first set aside a portion of the state’s general fund each year to pay down this ultimate debt and second we need to renegotiate benefits and pensions for new hires.