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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Sonoma, Trinity Counties, CA November 2, 2010 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Member of the State Assembly; District 1

The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of California and asked of all candidates for this office.     See below for questions on Budget Choices, Budget Process, Higher Education, Major Issues and Priorities

Click on a name for candidate information.   See also more information about this contest.

? 1. How will you prioritize the budget choices the Legislature must make to align the state’s income and spending, and address the need for fair revenue sources that are sufficient for state and local government services?

Answer from Karen Brooks:

A two-year budget cycle - Rather than budgeting from one year to the next, California's expenditures can be budgeted out over a two-year timeframe. The legislature can then focus on fiscal priorities in the year-to-year, while requiring state bureaucracies to operate within their existing resources. A hard spending cap - California needs a spending cap where state expenditures cannot exceed incoming state revenues. Projected revenues would be the guides for future budget years, thereby prepping the legislature for the next budget cycle and the economic conditions that may appear in the upcoming fiscal year. This is the kind of foresight that is currently missing from our state's fiscal picture.

Reforming California's entitlement programs - California is currently locked into a ballot box budget. Proposition 98 and other entitlement programs restrict the ability of the legislature to allocate taxpayer dollars towards viable and efficient programs. With a substantial amount taxpayer dollars fixed towards funding entitlement programs, and no means of adjusting those spending levels, we are handcuffing state government and making it more difficult to address revenue shortfalls and economic downturns.

Government Audits - The Bureau of State Audits is a state governmental entity entrusted with looking into various state programs for inefficiencies and shortfalls. We should require our state agencies, departments, and programs to be audited at least once every 5 years, which is not currently done. We should know when well functioning state programs need more resources or when failing programs should be eliminated. The state should know how government agencies and departments function and where there are inefficiencies in the delivery of government services.

? 2. What proposals, if any, do you support to fix the budget process? What other types of changes or reforms, if any, do you think are important to make our state government function more effectively?

Answer from Karen Brooks:

In today's economy the short term solution is to address spending cuts at the state level. Freeze state and state funded salaries at a ceiling of $100,000. Suspend grants and commissions. Sell off selected state assets. Release in home health care and child support collection back to the counties. Suspend SB 810 (single payer health care), MLPA (Marine Life Protection Act) and AB-32 and reduce the budgets of those departments accordingly.

In the mid term, suspend the minimum franchise tax for two years for micro-businesses. Restore confidence in the private sector by streamlining regulations, allow more flexibility in labor laws, reform workers compensation laws, and adopt a one-stop permit process. This will spur job growth which takes people off welfare and unemployment and increases the amount of people contributing taxes.

In the long term we need to look at a two year budget cycle as well as structural reforms throughout all entitlement programs. Key focus areas for investment are energy, education and infrastructure. Institute audits of state funded departments and programs. Explore privatization options and partnerships of certain services.

In short, reduce the size and scope of the state government while growing the tax base incrementally through revitalization of the private sector.

? 3. Many members of the Legislature say that education is a high priority for the state. Yet fees for public higher education have gone up dramatically and funding has been cut. What is your vision for California’s higher education future, and how do you propose to get there?

Answer from Karen Brooks:

California has one of the worst graduation rates in the country and is below the national average. We need to change the way school districts are funded and how they allocate their funding to address their needs. We cannot continue to take a "shotgun" approach to school finance since not all school districts are the same or have the same needs or deficiencies. We need to give local school districts more flexibility at addressing their needs without strings attached at the state level.

Providing local school districts with greater financial flexibility could result in funding surpluses, which could benefit our local districts and thus benefit our local colleges and universities.

? 4. What other major issues do you think the Legislature must address in 2011? What are your priorities?

Answer from Karen Brooks:

We need to look at onerous government regulations that hindering our small businesses as well as slowing an economic recovery that is sorely needed in California. Some of the environmental regulations such as the Marine Life Protection Act are doing more harm than good and are not based on sound scientific evidence.

We need to suspend the Minimum Franchise Tax (MFT) that currently requires businesses to pay an annual tax to the state regardless if they make money in their fiscal year. The minimum tax is $800 and is increased based upon annual income. This onerous regulation hinders the ability of businesses to expand and hire new employees, which compounds our economic recovery.

The legislature also needs to look at repealing many of the laws currently on the books. Our state has a difficult time enforcing all of them, but every year thousands of pieces of legislation are introduced, passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor. Is it possible that we need all of them? Maybe it's time to reevaluate the laws in place and repeal those that may be unnecessary, overly burdensome, or costly to California.

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Candidates' responses are not edited or corrected by the League. No candidate may refer to another candidate in the response.

The order of the candidates is random and changes daily. Candidates who did not respond are not listed on this page.

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Created: January 6, 2011 15:01 PST
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