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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
San Mateo County, CA November 4, 2014 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Member of the State Assembly; District 22

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 Fiscal Choices, Water, Education, Your Priorities

Click on a name for candidate information.   See also more information about this contest.

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

Answer from Kevin Mullin:

This May, the State Assembly and the State Senate unanimously approved Governor Brown's rainy day fund proposal. With an economic surplus for the first time in years, it is a prudent proposal to put money aside in times of plenty to be accessed in times of need, and to pay down some of the state's debt. The Governor's proposal addresses the most pressing short-term and long-term fiscal predicaments facing California.

Because state finances are largely dependent upon sales tax and income tax, state coffers are, to a large degree, at the mercy of the market. As economic activity varies over time and as typical business cycles take their course, state revenues have been volatile and have varied, sometimes drastically, from year to year. The Governor's rainy day fund proposal goes a long way toward creating a system to smooth the peaks and valleys created by economic booms and busts that the state has experienced in the past and toward creating economic predictability in California.

The largest fiscal emergency facing the state in the long-term is funding our state employees' and teachers' pensions and benefits obligations. To do so will require pension reform and a serious commitment by the state legislature and all Californians to meet our commitments. The State's liability continues to grow and due to our legal obligation to fulfill our pension and benefit commitments prior to others, as payouts increase and require an ever-increasing portion of the budget, other programs and services are increasingly squeezed out of the funding equation. If we do not make reforms that make the system more equitable for all Californians our state will suffer. The long-term solution to the pensions and benefits problem we face must be one in which all interested parties make more significant contributions to keep the system solvent and to allow other programs and services to receive the funding needed to function and serve the people of California.

In addition, the legislature must (continue to) pass laws that make the state function more efficiently. For example, in 2013 I authored AB 989 which allows the Teachers' Retirement Board to issue benefits account statements via electronic delivery rather than by mail. While this may seem like a simple change in the law, it is common sense legislation like this that will allow the state to realize the benefits of technological advance and reap their operational and financial rewards.

Answer from Mark Gilham:

As usual the state legislators are out of touch with the citizen's, tax's payers and voters of our state. The reality is that as long as our legislators believe they have an open check book and can spend money as they see fit, getting spending under control will never be a reality.

If I were granted the position of honor by the voters to be elected as the representative of this district and sent to Sacramento- how I would prioritize income and spending would be the following:

1) Cut the size of the state employee's by 10% -to- 15% across the board in every department. If that doesn't slow spending, then I would advocate an additional 10%. When the US Government and State's had applied this principle- spending is slowed and revenues are increased. History has proven this to be true.

2) Eliminate all pensions for those who are elected as public servants (representatives), public unions pensions, with the exception to law enforcement and fire departments- then only having the pension set to about 20% -to- 25% of the base pay, and advocate 401K's and other retirements plans for all those working for the state, just like the rest of the working class tax payers of this state.

Taking these simply steps would eradicate our state spending problems and would generate income to our state treasury and thereby allowing us to pay down the state debt and pay off our state creditors, which never appears to be addressed nor a consideration for our current leadership of the State of California.

? 2. Given our current drought condition, concern for water rights and usage is an important issue. What solutions would you support to address our water problems?

Answer from Mark Gilham:

Here we see the reality of the missed management of our resources by the current state legislative leadership.

The reason we build water reservoirs in other parts of our state with more rainfall is due to most of the State of California being a semi-desert region which is known for drought conditions to occur.

But due to EPA Federal, State and local regulations imposed, trying to build and improve our reservoir system is almost impossible. As a result, California will continue to suffer with a lack of water which impacts the ability of our state to generate income through state and local taxes, and push our businesses out of our state to other states who actually address such concerns.

This is a circle that if not complete, ends up hurting us as a state and local community.

I would advocate the suspension of EPA regulations via the voters and streamline the development of new reservoirs in the portions of our state that receive higher levels of rainfall to benefit the portions of the state that receive less and sometime none at all.

The EPA impact would be minor but the benefit to our state would be major. Starting from the center of our state down to the boarder, our cities and businesses could grow, our famer's and ranchers could produce food and taxes could be generated.

This is a win for the citizens, tax payers and voters. But the current conditions are a lost and as a result, California will continue to stuffer with no change in sight.

Answer from Kevin Mullin:

The "water issue" can be thought of most simply in terms of supply and demand. Over the long-term, supply cannot meet demand in California. This is the case due to a number of factors, including a growing population, major population centers existing in parts to the state that cannot provide for their own water needs, unpredictable weather and rain patterns, an antiquated water storage and distribution system, our state's indispensable but water intensive agriculture sector, environmental and biological concerns, the fact that water rights have entitled consumers in the aggregate more water than is available, etc. Because water is an essential component of life, one must think about water in terms of needs versus wants. We must first allocate water to fulfill the needs of our state and our people before allocating it for discretionary usage. Primary uses for water (e.g. drinking and farming) based on need must be given priority over secondary uses for water based on want (e.g. landscaping and recreation).

? 3. California high school students rank lower than many states in student performance. What do you see as the ongoing role of the Legislature in addressing this problem?

Answer from Kevin Mullin:

There is no question that education must be improved in California. The Local Control Funding Formula will allow for greater fiscal control and decision making at the local level to best serve students. The greatest understanding of local students' and communities' needs exist at the local level.

California faces many challenges that other states do not. Our population of over 38 million people is incredibly diverse. This reality provides many opportunities and poses many challenges to our education system. The many cultures and languages that make California what it is create heterogeneity in our schools that can make teaching and learning challenging.

We must consider education holistically and view the outputs of education through the lenses of workforce development, economic development, crime, physical and mental health and wellbeing, familial impacts, social engagement, civic participation, community building, etc.

There is not a simple fix to the problem we face. The legislature can influence education directly and indirectly and take steps to improve not only test scores, but the other elements of a well-functioning society that education is inextricably linked to. A holistic approach to educating our youth is the best way to address the issues we face in education and society.

Answer from Mark Gilham:

Are you kidding? They are the problem. Addressing it is simple: disband public education and move to private, charter and home education system as a state system to educate our students.

It appears to me that the only driving issue with public educators is money. With hundreds of millions of dollars annual being poured into our state education system, one would think we would be rank #1 in the nation but that is not the case.

Prop 30 was another "education" bill designed to help improve our education. We were told that if the voters would pass this bill it would help our state education system for the next 7 to 10 years, and no bound measures would be requested for education. If this is true, then why is the education board of Redwood City trying to get a 230 plus million dollar bond issue for the next election cycle? Again, wasn't prop 30 to be a fix to our education system?

One way to fix our broken state education problem is to remove Sacramento out of the equation completely. Place the reasonability in the hands of our counties and local cities. The requirement standard of our counties and cities would be that of our private education system, which appears not to be plugged with money as the number concerned but education of our students.

At the moment, and the continual future, the current system is all that is offered to us. But if one were to ask a parent if they had a choice of whether to allow the child to attend public school or private school and the cost was the same, which do you think one might choice?

This is the question we should be asking ourselves: which is best of our students? The current education system is a failure. So the choice shouldn't be too hard to make.

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

Answer from Mark Gilham:

Lower the business tax: California has a flat corporate income tax rate of 8.840%. The federal corporate income tax, by contrast, has a marginal bracketed corporate income tax. California's maximum marginal corporate income tax is the 10th highest in the United States, directly below Maine's 8.930%.

I would reduce the business tax to 0.0% for the first 3 year, then to 1% for the next 3 years, then 2% for the next 3 years, to a maximum cap of 3.5%.

Most states who we are competing with have a business rate tax of 0.0%. If California is going to be competitive in attracting and keeping business in our state, we are going to need to be aggressive in our taxation.

When a business knows what they can expect several years in advance concerning taxation, they can potion themselves and know what the state and local taxes are expected from them. This helps a business plan for the future and allows them to determine whether or not they can grow or should they relocate elsewhere.

Employee payroll tax: I would reduce the employee payroll tax to 0.0% and move to eliminate employee payroll tax completely. Most states don't have payroll tax for employees. The benefits to the tax payers would be realized immediately as an increase of personal income.

Answer from Kevin Mullin:

My legislative priorities are to promote job creation, enhance education and workforce development systems, encourage environmentally sustainable regional planning, and work in a bipartisan way to reform state governance.

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 23, 2015 14:59 PDT
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