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|Los Angeles County, CA||June 8, 2010 Election|
CLOSING THE BUDGET GAP
By Nick KarnoCandidate for Member of the State Assembly; District 53; Democratic Party
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Nick Karno's plan to close the budget gapCalifornia is facing an unprecedented budget crisis. The latest projections estimate a $20 billion deficit, and many communities have already suffered deep cuts and layoffs.
The truth is + it's going to get worse before it gets better. We need innovative solutions to our budget problems now so we can continue investing in our schools, expanding access to health care, building much needed infrastructure, and securing the public's safety. We need to recover money that is owed to the State, find areas where we can save money, and spur economic development to get people working again.
Recovering unpaid taxes: We should vigorously pursue billions of dollars that is owed to the State.
Implementing an aggressive tax amnesty program. The Board of Equalization estimates that $24 billion is owed to the State of California, and we could recover $10 billion of that money through tax amnesty programs. By developing a comprehensive program to bring in delinquent tax payers, the State can quickly and fairly realize revenues that have gone unpaid for years. We must initiate this effort immediately.
Aggressively prosecuting those who participate in the `underground economy'. In the City Attorney's office, I have prosecuted the sale of pirated DVDs, knock-off designer jeans, and other illegally manufactured goods. Sales of these items cheat legitimate manufacturers, their employees, and government coffers. According to some estimates, the loss to Los Angeles County fims from piracy and counterfeiting totaled $5.2 billion in 2005. Construction projects that don't pay the prevailing wage or employ illegal labor also hurt California workers. We must pursue these illegal activities so we can protect jobs and bring in more revenues to the State. Government Efficiency: With smarter use of the public dollar, we can increase government effectiveness and save money.
Reform the criminal justice system by diverting thousands of homeless and mentally ill individuals from our courts and jails and into publicly funded treatment programs. As a City prosecutor, I have personally handled hundreds of criminal cases involving homeless and mentally ill defendants. These cases create logjams in our courts and jails, while seriously violent criminals serve only a fraction of their sentences. The recidivism rate for mentally ill and homeless defendants is 82%, and these troubled individuals do not receive any long-lasting treatment while in custody. We can do better by funding treatment programs using Prop. 63 funds, which have remained unused. This reform is long overdue, and not only will it increase the efficiency of our criminal justice system, but it will save the State billions of dollars by relieving overcrowding in our jails and prisons.
Increase the State's Energy Efficiency. Saving energy saves money, and clean renewable energy is the cheapest energy of all. We need to expedite the implementation of these methods as a way to deal with our budget crisis. We can start with simple changes to lighting, insulation, and HVAC systems, all of which can save the State up to 30% on its electric bills. We can also use cleaner and less expensive biofuels in our existing State fleets, which allows us to produce our fuel domestically, decrease vehicular greenhouse gas emissions by 80%, and save money in the process.
We have also seen great success in our renewable energy bonds, where many solar installations continue to generate savings long after they've paid for themselves. Many other governments around the world have implemented these innovative technological solutions + California can too, with the right leadership. Get California Working Again: Our State will not fully recover until the private sector is flourishing and hiring again.
Expedite Infrastructure Build-outs with Existing Funding. Much of the stimulus money for shovel-ready projects has not been spent, and other monies allocated for infrastructure projects have been tied up in government bureaucracy. We need to put Californians to work immediately, and that means spending existing funds now. There are also agencies with money, like the Metropolitan Water District, that have urgent infrastructure projects which could be expedited. Whether it's High Speed Rail, a Peripheral Canal, modernization of airport terminals, or school construction projects + California's infrastructure is falling apart, and now is the time to use designated funds to put California back to work.
Tax incentives for Film and Television Production, Cleantech firms, and new technologies. The 53rd district is home to one of the highest concentrations of engineers, Phd's, and high-tech programers. The Aerospace industry, the Entertainment studios, and the innovative small businesses that make up the 53rd district will craft the future of California's economy + if they have the right business climate. My experience working in the Mayor's Office of Economic Development showed me how government can help the business community. Through tax-incentives, gap-financing with low-interest loans, expedited permitting, community block grants, infrastructure improvements, and other business-friendly practices, we can provide the right leadership for our business community by knowing what businesses need.
By collecting what is owed, finding savings through efficiency, and helping the business community get back on its feet + we can solve the $20 billion budget deficit and get California working again.
Position Paper 3
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