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|League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Read the answers from all candidates.
1. What does California need to do to address the current budget crisis?
In order to function effectively, every business and every household must develop a realistic budget and learn to live within their means. It is now time for the State Legislature to govern itself by these same rules. Every functional household learns to cut back in lean years, and to save during times of plenty in order to prepare for the future. California must also learn to function on the revenue it takes in, and be sure to set aside a "rainy-day fund" for times of crisis. I do not beleive that it is necessary to raise taxes in order to provide California with the revenue it needs to function. Instead, we must take steps to develop the growth of business, specifically small business, which will both increse revenue for the state, and develop more jobs. There are many areas where the budget can be streamlined, the bureaucracy lessened, and funding placed in the hands of local officials who are more equipped to make decisions on expenditures for their regions. It is time for the legislature to start acting responsibly, rather than spending recklessly.
2. What should the state's priorities be for K-12 education? For the Community College System?
I believe that a quality education is every child's civil right. There is no reason why a child should not be able to succeed, and yet time and time again in my experience as an educator I have seen schools fail. What I have also seen, however, and also been a part of, is poorly functioning schools turn around. During my time as Principal of a struggling school in the Haight-Ashbury District of San Francisco, The students there began outperforming their expectations and by the time I left, there was a waiting list to attend. I also played a hand in the designing of the Santa Barbara Community Academy, a school of choice in Santa Barbara where Latino students not only outperform their Latino peers, but also middle and upper class white children in other schools. I know that K-12 education can work, and I have seen it happen. They key is accountabilty. We must raise our standards of performance for schools, and create an environment where educators strive to have their children meet these expectations. We also need to change the funding systems for education by channeling more money into the hands of local control, rather than allowing the Sacramento bureaucracy decide what is right for our children. It is also imperative that we increase funding for Community Colleges. Community Colleges are where working and middle class folks go to get a hand-up. These are places where first generation college students go to make a better life for themselves and for their families, where a single mother can go to learn a trade or get a license to open more doors for herself, and a stepping stone for students to enter into a four-year university in a more cost-effective way. The working men and women who rely on Community Colleges to better themselves and increase opporunity are the backbone of our society, and we need to support these individuals. I believe that our society as a whole is better off when every individual suceeds, and education is the surest way to make this happen.
3. What measures would you support to address California's water needs?
Conservation is the most important thing Californians can practice when it comes to our water supply. Even if we had easy access to water and plenty of it, with enough waste, we would still eventually end up in a draught situation. I support increasing incentives for water conservation. Unfortunately, simply educating a person on the importance of an issue is not always enough to inspire action, and so creating more incentives is a good way to ensure an increase is water conservation practices. Many parks, businesses and government establishments already use reclaimed water for irrigation and similar purposes. This and similar practices also need to be encouraged. We must adapt to our situation and learn to use our limited resources wisely.
4. What should the Legislature be doing to address the needs of Californians without health insurance?
There is no doubt that our healthcare system is in a crisis. There are millions of uninsured in California, a majority of them children, hospitals are being forced to cut back their staff, some to even close due to funding cuts, and interest in entering into medical practice has declined significantly. Finding the right answer to this question is going to be a struggle, and the most important step is going to be the cooperation of our legislators with one another. With partisan politics being the status quo in Sacramento, it is going to be difficult for our legislators to come together and debate, but this is precisely what needs to happen. Rather than playing into the hands of special interests, legislators need to work in the best interests of Californians. What I can say with certainty is that Universal Healthcare is not the answer. This will only serve to further deteriorate our quality of healthcare, and will force more restrictions upon both patients and doctors so that getting the care that is needed becomes more difficult and even impossible in some cases. When a universal healthcare system becomes the norm, medicine is practiced not by trained physicians, but by the bureaucrats who set the rules. The answer will also not be as simple as providing universal healthcare to the uninsured. There are many other problems that also need to be addressed that are causing the healthcare system to crumble and the patients to suffer. Fraudulent Worker's Comp claims are steadliy on the rise, and there is no doubt that the system needs to be revamped. The government ends up paying millions of dollars for fraudulent claims, when many who are in need of treatment must go without. Worker's Comp premiums are forcing people out of business and are forcing many employers to cut back on healthcare benefits that many of us rely on. The answer to the healthcare question is one that cannot be determined piece by piece. The entire healthcare system needs an overhaul, and Sacramento needs to put aside its partisan disagreements and come together in this debate.
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