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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
Los Angeles County, CA June 5, 2012 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Member of the State Assembly; District 63

The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund and asked of all candidates for this office.     See below for questions on Budget, Government reform, Higher education, Major issues

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?

Answer from Jack M. Guerrero:

-Cut wasteful government spending immediately
-Renegotiate all union contracts in good faith; approximately 70% of the State's General Fund pays for compensation and benefits of government workers
-Gradually phase out all non-essential government programs
-Serious pension reform now; current benefits (at $500 billion in unfunded obligations) are egregious and economically unsustainable
-No more $100k lifetime pensions starting at the able-bodied age of 50
-Reform the prison industrial complex, which expends nearly $50k per inmate; consider cheaper rehabilitative and educational alternatives for youth and nonviolent drug offenders
-Reduce compensation (and eliminate perks)for state legislators and Sacramento bureaucrats

Answer from Cathrin "Cat" Sargent:

I will first protect those who need it most; children (no education cuts)& the elderly (protect social security and pensions). With all other categories I will work to protect the exploited first. I believe in our infrastructure (police, fire, cal-trans, etc.) and support keeping their budgets as they stand and increasing their funds ASAP. I will support budget cuts to areas where there are questionable practices (such as reimbursement accounts) and administrative areas. I have a very general ideal of cutting from the top and trickling down.

? 2. What types of changes or reforms, if any, do you think are important to make our state government function more effectively?

Answer from Jack M. Guerrero:

-Smaller government
-Reduced state government workforce
-Decentralized organization
-Part time legislature
-Term Limits
-Respect for constitutional limits
-Bring back the supermajority requirement for tax increases
-Automatic triggers for reduced spending across the board

Answer from Cathrin "Cat" Sargent:

Honesty and integrity would fix our efficiency and overall functionality. Do what we say and stop making side deals and incorporating "loopholes" which allow candidate sponsoring special interests to have a piece of whatever funding or legislation is being proposed. Nothing is simply what is said on the surface, there are ALWAYS catches attached to every piece of paper passing over our lawmaker's desks.

? 3. Fees for public higher education have gone up dramatically and funding has been cut. Is this a priority concern, and if so, what measures would you propose to address it?

Answer from Cathrin "Cat" Sargent:

#1 priority is to restore all cuts made to education and insure that all funds promised to education are in fact going to their intended destinations. There should be no need to increase taxes or budgets for education if the funds which were intended for it are actually being supplied to education and not some vaguely related interest with their hands in the virtual pot.

Answer from Jack M. Guerrero:

I understand first-hand the powerful impact that an education can have on individuals and their families. I am the son of hard working Mexican immigrants who instilled in me respect for education early in my life. By the age of 15, I enrolled at Cal State Los Angeles for university coursework to supplement my high school education. After high school, I attended Stanford University on academic scholarship, and later, Harvard University for graduate school. Today, I support non-profit organizations focused on education, and serve on the Southern California Advisory Board of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund.

Given my background, I support a properly funded and high-quality education for all Californians. However, I also believe that funds need to be managed responsibly, and that the focus of the education system needs to be on core academic disciplines, and not wasteful social experiments or useless curricula. In our local school district we spend approximately $30,000 per pupil and produce a 50% drop-out rate.

This is simply unacceptable and funding levels are no longer a reasonable excuse for failure. We have some of the largest and most expensive non-teaching bureaucracies in the country and the most expensive school construction costs in the history of the United States.

At the state university level, wasteful spending is even more pronounced with operating costs increasing faster than inflation and comparable costs at private institutions. Yes, schools must be properly funded, but they must also be held accountable for their spending priorities and cost management practices.

In addition, we must raise academic standards, demand accountability from teachers and students alike, and empower parents to choose schools for their children.

I support school vouchers, public access to standardized test results, charter schools, and parent trigger laws to remove status quo administrators if necessary. I also support a teacher evaluation process that values results over seniority, and a performance-based system that rewards exceptional teaching.

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

Answer from Cathrin "Cat" Sargent:

Care and employment opportunities for our returning and or discharged service (wo)men. Sustainable (full-time with medical benefits) jobs, focusing on manufacturing but also looking at jobs of the future, jobs where we are the innovators and the trendsetters of the world. I would love to see language incorporated into our children's education, from the start, in kindergarten. I will work to see more encouragement in math and sciences as well as in the arts. We need to foster the imaginations of our young while giving them the tools, the education, to build on those visions.

Answer from Jack M. Guerrero:

My platform is clear and unwavering:

1. Government Accountability - I will demand transparency in all proceedings, and I will vote to eliminate perks and excessive compensation for all politicians, at every opportunity. Elected officials must serve the citizenry, not the other way around.

2. Pension Reform Now - As an economist and former pension auditor, I believe our state has a serious problem with approximately $500 billion in unfunded pension obligations for CalPERS, CalSTRS, and the UC systems combined. The unfunded obligations continue to accrue at alarming rates, and we can no longer afford to ignore this. We must renegotiate prudent contribution policies, manage assets in ways that limit volatility, and reset benefits to sustainable levels for current and not just future public employees.

3. Serious Education Overhaul - This issue is very personal to me, because I graduated from an underperforming public school. We MUST raise academic standards, demand accountability from schools and students alike, and empower parents to choose schools for their children. I support school vouchers, public access to standardized test results, charter schools, and parent trigger laws to demand reform. I also support a teacher evaluation process that values results over seniority, and a performance-based system that rewards exceptional teaching.

4. Private Sector Jobs and Economic Growth - At 12% unemployment and 1.2 million California jobs lost in three years, we need a better business climate to promote investment in the private sector. This means lower taxes, less regulation, and a reduction in wasteful government spending. California must attract more businesses, and encourage entrepreneurship.

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Candidates' statements are presented as submitted. References to opponents are not permitted.

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: July 26, 2012 13:02 PDT
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