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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
San Mateo, Santa Clara County, CA November 2, 2010 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Member of the State Assembly; District 21

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 Rich Gordon:

California can only solve its budget problems through a combination of budget cuts and new revenue.

Budget reductions must be done in a strategic and surgical manner. My priority will be to protect safety net and prevention services. I believe that savings can be found in administrative expenses and these must be made before any reduction in services is contemplated. We must also have new revenue to protect essential services and the employees that provide them. We need to grow the California economy as a core strategy to creating additional revenue for state and local governments.

Answer from Greg Conlon:

As indicated in my priorities, we need to be able to balance the budget without increasing taxes. The State has increased spending each year by greater than the increase in population and the rate of inflation. If it had not, we would have a balance budget now. We have to maintain the required spending in education (Prop 98) and some other programs but all other programs, agencies and departments would have to be reviewed for reductions in spending.

? 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 Greg Conlon:

The State needs to reduce its spending by first combining and streamlining many of its various agencies and departments. Then the State needs to reform the unsustainable pension and health care benefits of its employees. Next it should have each agency and department submit a spending reduction program the same as was done in the early 1990s, while I was President of the Cal. PUC. Such reduction in many cases can be accomplished without service reductions with creative streamlining and improved efficiencies.

Answer from Rich Gordon:

California's budget process is dysfunctional and in dire need of reform.

The requirement for the 2/3 vote to pass a budget needs to be eliminated in favor of a simple majority. The current system is one of minority rule which I find to be counter to basic democratic principles. I support Proposition 25, which would penalize legislators by withholding pay if they are not able to pass a budget on time. It would also remove the 2/3 vote requirement to pass a budget but still continue to require a 2/3 vote to increase taxes.

I would support changes to Proposition 13. One of these changes should be a "split roll" which would provide for more frequent reassessment of commercial properties but maintain the protections for residential properties.

Finally, I believe California needs a two-year budget cycle, a reserves policy and performance based budgeting and will do everything in my power to bring these changes to California.

? 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 Rich Gordon:

Public higher education is vital for our democracy. It creates the critical thinking skills necessary for participation in the public process. Public higher education is the path to good jobs, economic growth and innovation.

California once had a higher education that was the envy of the nation. I support fulfilling the promise of the Master Plan for Higher Education once again, which was based on the principle that every student who graduates high school deserves the opportunity to attend a publicly funded university. As our economy rebounds and new revenue sources

are available to the state, the first priority must be funding for education, including full funding for the public higher education system in California.

Answer from Greg Conlon:

I would support Meg Whitman's proposal and putting $1.0 billion into higher education, but on a pay-as-you-go manner of finding expense reductions elsewhere. She proposes reducing welfare benefits. I would want to look at all programs, including welfare, to come up with the money.

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

Answer from Greg Conlon:

As indicated in my priorities I would address providing tax incentives for new capital expenditures in the private sector. It is estimated there is ample cash in many corporations to spend. Like providing incentives for solar projects I would provide tax credits for new capital spending that creates jobs. I also would create a program that matches whatever other states provide to steal our companies. These programs would be for five years initially. We our losing too many jobs to other states we need to fight back and protect our jobs in the state.

Answer from Rich Gordon:

I am most concerned about the economy, education, and the environment. California must grow jobs. We have great potential to create new jobs in the clean tech and green tech sectors. We must provide incentives for investment and unleash the creativity of our people in order to take advantage of this opportunity. We cannot grow good jobs without excellence in education. Too many of your young people are not completing high school and our best and brightest are being priced out or kept out of higher education. We need to make education a true priority in California with appropriate investments. California has been a world leader on environmental issues. We need to maintain that status by continuing to protect our land, water, and air. We also need to develop a comprehensive water policy for California. With global warming more precipitation will fall as rain and we need to develop the infrastructure to capture, store, and transmit this water for residential, industrial, agricultural, and resource uses.

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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