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League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of California and asked of all candidates for this office.
Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).
Questions & Answers
1. What does California need to do to address the current budget crisis?
California has a spending problem. Not a revenue problem. The Legislature and the Governor must prioritize spending.
Since 2003-04 (the year before I was elected to the Senate) State General Fund spending has risen from $76 billion to $101 billion, a nearly $25 billion increase in spending.
Cost savings and efficiencies could be obtained from the proposals below:
Adopt Governor Schwarzenegger's proposal to limit CalWORKS recipients to 60 months (5 years) before removing them from the program that was intended for a temporary transition from welfare to work.
Ask voters to redirect Proposition 10 Tobacco Tax revenues to the State General Fund for use for children's healthcare, including funding California's Healthy Families Program. This $580 million revenue stream can be used for higher priorities than providing family fun days, photo collage projects and swim lessons organized by soccer clubs. This would also allow for the $2.4 billion in held in reserve by the 58 County First Five Commissions and the State First Five Commission to be used for higher priorities as the 59 bureaucracies would be eliminated.
Eliminate unneeded boards and commissions such as the Agricultural Labor Relations Board.
2. What should the state's priorities be for K-12 education? For the Community College System?
Schools have received more resources every year that I have been in the Legislature. What is needed is reform to ensure that resources reach classrooms.
It is also important to engage parents and hold them accountable. Even the best of our teachers can't teach students who don't make it to class or who are not prepared.
Efforts to bring back career technical education are important. Not every child will go to Stanford, yet every child can obtain skills to allow them to be productive and successful members of our society.
3. What measures would you support to address California's water needs?
I am supportive of efforts to improve the state's water supply through reasonable conservation and improved underground storage capacity. However, it is essential that any large-scale investment in our state's water system also include increased storage and flood control measures that incorporate surface storage through increased reservoir capacity.
Conservation measures serve a legitimate purpose, yet conservation and recycling alone cannot meet the essential water supply and management needs brought about by the extremes of flooding or drought conditions. With increased reservoir capacity, water can be stored for future use with multiple benefits, including increased flows to the delta, storage capacity to meet the needs of California's ever-increasing population as well as much-needed flood protection. For these reasons, I will only support a water bond that contains an appropriate level of funding for projects which significantly increase reservoir capacity.
4. What should the Legislature be doing to address the needs of Californians without health insurance?
Strong disagreements persist with regard to the most cost-effective ways to address the various issues associated with ensuring that California residents have access to quality, affordable care. Payroll taxes on businesses and provider taxes on doctors and hospitals are not the solution to the State's healthcare challenges. Taxing physicians and medical facilities will make it even more difficult to recruit healthcare workers and keep hospitals open in the rural communities in the First Senate District. The "pay-or-play" employer mandate being considered will serve as an incentive for businesses to move to other states or stifle wages in order to remain competitive and keep insurance premiums manageable. I am certain this is not the author's intent; however, it is a plausible outcome.
The universal health care bill delegates the decision-making authority for payroll taxes, co-payments and premiums to an unelected government bureaucracy. The taxpayer funds necessary to subsidize this program as written could easily be in the billions of dollars annually. Many falsely believe the program created by SB 840 will be "free." Other nations that have implemented universal health care programs have unfortunately discovered that government-run programs increase demand and costs, reduce access and personalized care, and achieve cost containment by rationing care. It is not my desire to see California move in that direction.
After researching the options, I am convinced that there are more appropriate means of achieving the desired end without the creation of a massive, impersonal government-run bureaucracy funded through tax increases. Approximately 85% of the population currently has some form of health insurance. It does not make sense to dismantle 100% of the health care system to provide insurance to the 15% of the population who lack coverage.
Research shows that, in many ways, government has been a part of the problem + adding to the cost of insurance. Through laws and regulation, California has imposed approximately 48 health care mandates that can add as much as 30% to the cost of insurance premiums. And, the state's own Medi-Cal system continues to suffer from inadequate reimbursements to medical providers. The inability to recover these expenses, together with the costs of treating the uninsured, shifts the financial burden to the insured.
A market where insurers may more freely customize their policies, co-payments, premiums and coverage allows consumers to choose the best product based upon their means and medical needs. Enabling insurers to compete through innovation and efficiency improves both affordability and accessibility. The Legislature should also make it easier to refer the uninsured to community clinics for non-emergency care, and provide tax credits for both employers and individuals who purchase coverage. Medi-Cal, Healthy Families, Healthy Kids, and the High Risk Medical Insurance Program, among others, are available to assist many low and moderate-income residents, as well as the hard-to-insure. The state should also more actively promote the benefits of Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP).
Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.
Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).
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Created from information supplied by the candidate: September 24, 2008 16:30
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