LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS
Political Philosophy for Stephen F. "Stef" Rico
STEF RICO, CANDIDATE FOR THE 25TH STATE ASSEMBLY POLITICAL PLATFORM
AGRICULTURAL & DEVELOPMENT. Our agricultural base is the one constant economy which we can depend upon and around which we must plan our future economic development. To remain competitive in a worldwide marketplace, California's leading industry must have the support of state and local government providing incentives to maximize efficiency and conservation. I believe in protecting the overall quality of the environment (soil, air and water). Therefore, I support agriculture that conserves land & water, provides gainful employment and a safe work environment for farm workers. I will develop legislation that provides incentives which encourage farmers to use conservative farming techniques and alternatives to toxic pesticides.
Water is a complex and controversial issue. California gets approximately 65 trillion gallons of natural water in an average year. Plants and the atmosphere draw two-thirds of it. Agriculture is the next largest consumer which takes approximately 40%. The delta requires an additional 100,000 gallons of water per second and environmental laws reserve even more water for fish, than what is currently used for human consumption. Our state's water supply depends on 1,200 major dams, which supply its consumers via the north-south network of aqueducts.
Californians are very concerned about potential droughts. These inevitable crises will put our government administration to test. As our 25th Assemblymember, I want to prepare us for the inevitable, by a continuous introduction of state legislation that secures a fair share of water to the agricultural communities and the citizens of Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Madera, Mariposa and Fresno counties.
Development - should be regulated by the county supervisors & city council, when agreements are made by these elected officials. The state government should assist in providing adequate funding for our infrastructure needs (transportation, schools, parks, government services and public utilities). As our new Assemblymember I will lead the way to develop a solid line of communication and work relationship of cooperation between and among the various local regional government bodies. I or my representative will be attending city and county council meetings to stay current of the needs of the people I represent. As your new Assemblymember, I will lead in the opening of lines of communication and in the establishment of solid working relationships between federal, state and local agencies to permit the recognition of the needs of the community, the smooth resolution of problems, and most importantly, planning for the future of our communities.
I am aware of transportation as a top issue in the 25th AD. The Governor's new budget plan includes $7.5 billion for transportation projects across California. This includes money allocated for light-rail and CalTrain service in the Bay Area. For a community, such as Modesto, where 40% of its population commutes, the Governor's proposed budget offers little new financial help for rural cities and counties.
However, the proposed budget has a $1.2 billion surplus -- officially listed as the "special fund for economic uncertainties." Tax revenues in the current budget year is running $2.9 billion ($1.8 billion in personal incomes taxes, $1.2 billion in sales tax receipts and $100 million in corporate taxes) higher than estimates and it projects additional robust increases in the 2000-01 fiscal year. Our State budget offers nine new or expanded tax relief measures, such as, $100 million for property owners who preserve open spaces or wildlife habitats, $47 million for income tax credits for individuals who care for elderly relatives, and $35 million more for low-income housing credits.
As your Assemblymember, I will lead the way for state legislation that secures the 25th AD their fair share of adequate funding from our state budget for our infrastructure needs.
Business and the economy go hand in hand with Agriculture. Business promotes agriculture and vice/versa. I will develop strong work relationships with each county's Economic Commission to handle our labor market. The objectives are to promote trade, support training to increase skilled labor, encourage small businesses. The end result a stronger labor market and jobs. I will emphasize small business and mediate a fair balance between business and labor unions. Yes, for a successful economy to florish it is imperative I work with labor unions, to assure that pro-opposed regulations are thoroughly scrutinized and achieve the interests of labor and business. Regulations that cost consumers and hamper job growth is bad business for everyone. My door will always be open to labor. Because, I believe in an assertive goal for California to be the leader in inter-trade commerce and the foreign markets of Latin America and the Pacific Rim.
I believe in putting people first and commit to fostering ongoing on-the-job training, education, and give tax credit incentives for our California Businesses. I am also a strong advocate for worker protection and family-friendly programs in the workplace, such as child care, housekeeping services for employees, 401K retirement plans, and profit sharing. Being from the San Joaquin Valley, I am a strong supporter of agriculture and the agribusiness sector. However, I would like to see California's aerospace and high-technology business sectors invest in the Central Valley. Working with United Airlines and Lockheed Aerospace in the Bay Area, I saw that they were a prime source of high-wages and added high value to the economic activity of those counties. High technology is becoming a reality in our Central Valley with the proposed high-speed rail system. Such transportation programs will make the Central Valley an attractive incentive to high technology and electronic firms, especially because of our lower overhead costs, affordable housing, available work force and unique quality of life.
CRIME PREVENTION & JUSTICE: My objective is to continue the lead in researching & proposing legislation for the funding of a wide range of alternatives to incarceration for those not posing danger to society. I support the introduction of legislation that furthers the expansion of rehabilitative programs and facilities for persons convicted of drug and alcohol abuse. Also, allocation of funds within the criminal justice budget need to be used for crime prevention, crime detection and rehabilitation. But, by no means does that mean I will be soft on crime. Hardened criminals (blue or white collar) belong behind bars and if that means more jails, I will entertain it.
It is imperative we introduce legislation which addresses the jurisdictional, organizational and procedural problems in the prosecution of one of the ugliest crimes I see, child abuse. I will fight for legislation that modifies the courtroom process in accommodating child victims. Consistent reporting and recording of child abuse and neglect cases needs to be addressed and strictly enforced for the safety of our children.
I want broad-based crime prevention programs which are accessible to all family members and citizens. These programs will take into consideration the ethnic, religious and cultural diversity of those being served. I support, salute and will continue to implement the spending of monies on public safety organizations such as, Domestic Violence Convening Council, which works with law enforcement agencies, medical and mental health professionals, and programs like the Haven Women's Center. The state has budgeted $7.3 billion for such programs and also for additional police officers and sheriffs' deputies. I will target those monies for the funding of modernizing law enforcement agencies with state of the art equipment and ongoing training for improved crime fighting techniques. I strongly believe that one of the basic responsibilities of government is to provide for public safety. And to ensure that our entire system of law enforcement agencies and their personnel do their job well, they must have the funds and resources necessary to implement strong and successful law enforcement.
EDUCATION: I know that to give our children the tools to succeed in this fast paced competitive society we've created for them, it will require adequate funding for our city and rural schools, to ensure that all children receive a quality public education. I will lead the way in legislating money for our children from the proposed $88 billion state budget for public schools. High tech classrooms will bring the world to them. Our children will understand economics, government, science, and the universe far more than a majority of us will ever comprehend in a lifetime. They truly are the future of this state and country. As I stated, it going to require a firm commitment from us all. I believe, returning local control to parents, teachers, administrators, and our locally elected school board members is how it will be accomplished. It is essential that our teachers have time to teach, instead of being burdened with endless paperwork and bureaucracy. For my part, I support bills such as, AB 1136 - requiring that new and modernized classrooms be wired to handle both phones with outside lines and Internet access. This sort of legislation is what I intend to introduce and support in upgrading our schools with adequate funding.
I will propose legislation that would follow through in providing scholarships, teacher incentives and spending on higher education, for the state's university system and community colleges, as well. Reducing college fees is not currently on the legislatures agenda this year, but it will be when I am in office in 2001. Currently, student aid for California students will be boosted by 18 percent, to $459.9 million, and $731 million in new construction money for the state's colleges and universities is in the works. I will continue this cause - the rebuilding of higher education in California. Our Valley's recent victory in securing the tenth University of California campus proves what is achievable when we all pull together for a united cause. The new U.C. campus will be a cornerstone of an educational and economic revitalization for our entire Central Valley area. As your State Assemblymember, I will be the patron and the voice the Regents hear, to not allow our educational renaissance to languish. I will ensure that the campus we worked so hard to achieve comes to fruition in a timely manner.
I also support the following initiatives in education:
AB 631 - which would extend statutory collective bargaining protection to employees of charter schools.
Both measures SB 334 & AB 661 - which aims to ensure that teachers are given notification and be aware of and help stave off potential on-campus retaliation that could result from off-campus violence. This bill will help in creating a safe, well-maintained learning environment for our children to learn.
Proposition 26 - which will change the current two-thirds vote requirement for local school bonds to a majority vote (50% plus one vote). It will be a major victory for California's children in aging, overcrowded, dilapidated public school buildings.
These are the prime issues of my platform which I will be continuously researching throughout my campaign. Other issues I will be addressing throughout my campaign are Health Reform, Immigration, Senior Citizens and the Cultural Arts.
My representation in the California State Assembly will be, first and foremost, the needs of the 25th Assembly District. I will represent all citizens equally regardless of political affiliations or location in the district. Secondly, I will work cooperatively with other Central Valley Legislators to protect and improve the standard of living in the Central Valley. And thirdly, I will consider the overall impact or benefit to all of the citizens of the State of California.
Currently, I am working to accomplish these goals. I am an elected Democratic Executive Board Member, active with the rural and education caucuses. As Assemblyman, I will be part of the majority party in Sacramento. I will use this advantage to work closely with the Speaker and our Governor. Most importantly, I will keep my state politics as local politics.
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