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League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Patricia Ann "Pat" Washington
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?
As an Assembly Member, I will help stabilize and strengthen working families by introducing or supporting legislation to increase the minimum wage, impose a moratorium on foreclosures, allow families who do not qualify for Medicare or Medi-Cal to purchase low-cost healthcare from a public source, and make it illegal for banks to charge fees on unemployment debit cards.
I will fight budget cuts to our schools, demand good faith adherence to Proposition 98 and work diligently to make our public universities accessible and affordable to low and middle income students. To help safeguard all our families and communities, I will work to find funding for vital public services in health, education, public safety and veterans affairs.
2. What types of changes or reforms, if any, do you think are important to make our state government function more effectively?
The state has a persistent structural deficit that, if not addressed, will continue to result in greater and greater deficits. The state legislature has a history of taking stop-gap fiscal actions, including deficit bonding, short-term borrowing and non-routine fund transfers to find money to fund programs because there is more money being spent than revenues coming in. In addition, California has little flexibility in addressing budget challenges creatively because a powerful and active citizen initiative process has produced several measures that dedicate large amounts of funds to specific programs, further hampering spending flexibility.
I believe the state must overhaul its budget process and institute performance-based budgeting. The state has already taken a comprehensive, long-term look at its infrastructure needs and is finally beginning to address them in a systematic way. Voters approved a Strategic Growth Plan and an accompanying $42 billion bond package. A bond accountability Web site launched last summer allows voters to see where their money is going by tracking all bond-funded projects and keeping tabs on their progress.
Although the governor is using the Strategic Growth Plan effectively to set a strategic direction for the state's infrastructure, California lacks an overall statewide strategic plan. It does not use performance information to manage agencies or influence budgeting decisions. The California Performance Review recommended implementing a strategic plan and performance measurement system related to budgeting. For the most part, these recommendations were not implemented, though some agencies have made considerable progress. In addition, poor technology hampers the ability of the state to produce and track performance information. Several initiatives to improve and integrate technology are underway. However, a long-term strategic plan and a performance measurement system related to budgeting will stop the annual budget shortfall and tax increase cycle.
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?
Student fees have increased seven of the last eight years. I oppose placing the burden of paying for the cost of a college education at a public institution on students and families. I support rolling back student fees.
State funding for public higher education has been slashed over the past decade + most recently by $750 million in the 2011-2012 budget.
Budget cuts and tuition increases for California's publicly funded higher education institutions are not only a result of the state's budget crises, but a changing perception as to whether a good public education should be funded by the state.
Recent moves toward privatization by using alternative sources to fund public higher education are moving in the wrong direction in finding a permanent solution. We must guarantee funding from the state in a manner that would institutionally prioritize higher education.
In 2009, state and local appropriations nationwide declined an average of 7-8% and tuition was raised an average of 4-5% to buffer the cuts, according to the "Trends in College Spending" by the Delta Cost Project. That year was the closest tuition revenue had come to equaling state funding in the entire decade and the situation has worsened since 2009.
More schools have turned to out-of-state students and other types of student fees to earn extra revenue -- just look at what UC Berkeley did. According to the Delta Cost report, funding patterns have been forming for the last two decades that are characterized by privatization and polarization. Privatization is not only increased dependency on tuition to fund the universities, but also the shift toward private sources.
These investments can skew research priorities away from serving the public interest to satisfying the interests of university benefactors, or allow sponsors to place undue influence on university research. Relying on private funding will exacerbate the focus on research at the expense of teaching.
The solution is to re-prioritize education. That is why I support the Governor's tax measure expected to be on the statewide ballot in November 2012, which should raise an estimated $6 billion. With those funds, we can:
- Re-hire laid off teachers to reduce class sizes
- Roll back college tuition increases
- Restore cuts to essential services for children, seniors, and disabled persons
- Re-hire laid off emergency responders
- Create jobs by repairing roads and bridges.
4. What other major issues do you think the Legislature must address? What are your own priorities?
I would like to see the state allocate financial resources to encourage colleges and businesses to work together to train workers in high-growth industries and provide incentives to ensure that trainees find permanent jobs.
Our tax dollars need to be spent in the classroom, with equal opportunities for all our students. Our state colleges and universities belong to California families. We need to fund them adequately and roll back tuition increases and cuts to classes that have hurt our working families.
For many families, workers don't have access to employer-sponsored health insurance and wages do not pay enough to cover the cost of health care. Health care costs are rising out of reach. We need comprehensive reform to ensure that everyone, regardless of health care need or income level, has access to affordable coverage.
The state legislature has enough politicians beholden to big-money donors and powerful special interests. It's time to focus on the needs of regular working families, including access to head-of-household jobs, affordable and safe homes, accessible quality healthcare, affordable, quality schools and colleges, a fair tax system where millionaires and corporations pay their fair share, and holding banks, mortgage lenders and others accountable for creating the situation we are in.
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 12, 2012 19:27
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