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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Santa Clara, San Mateo County, CA June 5, 2012 Election
Smart Voter

Richard S. Gordon
Answers Questions

Candidate for
Member of the State Assembly; District 24


The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund and asked of all candidates for this office.
Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).

Questions & Answers

1. How will you prioritize the budget choices the Legislature must make to align the state’s income and spending?

Two years ago, California faced a massive deficit and "a wall of debt." Since that time, the voters of California acknowledged some of the dysfunction, authorizing budget passage by a majority vote. As a result, I was able to vote for a timely budget that reduced our deficit by 75%. Moreover, as Chair of a Budget Subcommittee, I developed a new budgeting format that brings greater transparency to the process and have championed outcome-based budgeting to monitor tax expenditures.

Moreover, we have begun realigning government function from the state to the local level. In 2011, we began by realigning many public safety functions. I expect that more services will be devolved to local government in the coming years, and the governor's proposed November ballot measure would provide the necessary certainty of funding to go with the responsibilities that have already transferred.

But more work remains. Therefore, I support:  Continuing to increase the role and responsibility of local governments + cities, school districts, and counties, which are closer to the communities they serve. As we realign greater responsibility to local governments, we must also provide local government with the guaranteed revenue or revenue tools to successfully serve the needs of Californians.

 Continuing efforts to stabilize our fiscal house, including the adoption of outcome-based budgeting, the two-year budget cycle, and an enforceable reserve policy so that the state has a "savings account."

 Reforming the initiative process to increase transparency, prevent its use as a tool of those seeking to end-run the public legislative process, and requiring that measures clearly identify a source of funding or the elimination of some other state expenditure.

For the immediate future, I support a balanced approach to the current year's budget. We will need to cut expenses, but I also support the Governor's proposed temporary tax increase that will be on the November ballot. Our number one priority for spending must be education and as new tax dollars come to California they must be spent on our schools and universities.

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

To return California to its glory, we must continue to reform how the state is governed and how services are provided to Californians. I sought election to the Assembly two years ago not out of a longstanding desire to serve in the Legislature, but rather because I felt that there was a need to transform the way California and its government functions. I continue to believe that the first priority must be dealing with the dysfunction of California government and, until we do so, it will be exceedingly difficult to deal with other significant matters.

I am committed to ending the gridlock in Sacramento. I have been focused on fixing the dysfunction of the state's governing system and structure, ensuring that California invests in the education of its children, maintaining the state's position as a leader in environmental protection, and fighting for all California residents to have access to healthcare. Acknowledging that heightened partisanship has limited the ability of legislators to fully serve their constituents, I have worked to forge relationships on both sides of the aisle and across all ideologies. This approach has been a crucial part of my legislative success; I am proud to be recognized as "Most Productive Legislator" with the highest percentage of bills signed into law of anyone in the Legislature.

We are at a time when significant change is possible because the need for change has become too great for convention to resist. Key leaders in business, non-profit organizations, and government at both the state and local level, have united in a call for governance reform and, there has been measurable progress. I am working with those inside and outside of the Capitol who are championing and fighting for change. We cannot waste this opportunity for reform.

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?

When I meet with business leaders here in the Silicon Valley and discuss their concerns about doing business in California, they raise three concerns: regulations, taxation, and workforce. They admit that they can plan for issues raised by regulation and taxation, but they cannot plan for the lack of a qualified and educated workforce. Our success in the Silicon Valley has been driven by a prepared and educated workforce. We will do harm to our economy by under investing in higher education.

As the state has cut back on funding for the University of California and the California State University, the regents and trustees of these institutions have raised tuition. California's Master Plan for Higher Education holds out a promise that California students who complete high school will have a place at a public institution of higher education. We are no longer keeping that promise.

I am a co-author of the "Middle Class Scholarship Act" which will resolve the single sales tax issue for out of state corporations. This will result in $1 billion in new revenues for California. These revenues will be dedicated to reducing fees and tuition for middle class students at the University of California and the California State University. This will be a start to restoring the promise made by the Master Plan for Higher Education.

Funding for education remains a priority. I support universal pre-school and adequate funding for the K-12 educational system. We must make sure that local school boards have the capacity to raise local dollars and we need to give them more flexibility with state funding. I believe strongly that the best decisions in education are made as close as possible to students and teachers in the classroom.

I am also concerned about our Community Colleges. These institutions have played a critical role in preparing students for four-year degrees. They have also helped prepare our workforce and been a place for life long learning. As funding has been reduced local community college boards have had to cut back in ways that may negatively impact the three-fold mission of the community colleges. Students are having a more difficult time getting classes and making progress toward their educational goals.

Again, as our economy grows and tax revenue increases we must reinvest in education. Our future and our economy depend on it.

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

My top priorities are Government Reform and Education + discussed in my responses above, as well as the Environment. I fully believe in the philosophy that the Earth is not left to us by our parents, but rather lent to us by our children. We truly are the stewards of this time and place, and unfortunately we have often neglected the most permanent of our legacies.

Stewardship requires that we protect our air and water, that we protect our soils and lands from erosion and contamination, and that we preserve what limited natural resources we have left. It also requires that we foster growth and development utilizing sustainable practices. We cannot turn to sprawl to inefficiently house our people, we must focus on higher density, in-fill development where public transportation exists or can be built. The alternative is to forfeit our agriculture, our forests, and our future.

California has long been a global leader on issues of clean air and clean water. Our current economic and fiscal crisis cannot be used as an excuse to retreat from this leadership, if anything it is a reminder of the consequences of mismanagement.

California faces a unique environmental challenge brought about by climate change and the related consequence of sea level rise. As a state with a long and beautiful coastline we need to fully study how sea level rise will impact our coastal communities and industries. There are places where sea level rise will negatively impact built infrastructure, threatening bridges, ports, and homes. We need to better understand how all of this will impact California, and plan accordingly.

In my first year in the Legislature, I focused my work on two environmental issue areas + land and water conservation and recycling. For land and water conservation, I successfully carried AB 703, which extended and preserved a long-standing property tax exemption for habitat and open space lands. I authored legislation, AB 612, to provide the Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space Authority the ability to more efficiently use its revenue, thereby increasing opportunities for open space preservation in our region. Also, I authored AB 587, which ensured the continuation of volunteerism in California by allowing public works projects that use volunteers to be exempt from prevailing wage requirements.

As far as recycling is concerned, I authored AB 1149, which expanded by $20 million the state's successful Plastic Market Development (PMD) Program. The PMD program provides incentives to recycle more plastic bottles here in California into new and better products, all while decreasing the number of them that are shipped overseas. The bill has already created much-needed green jobs here in California.

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.

Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: May 23, 2012 18:04
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