I am a persistent advocate for governance reforms that will help make our state legislature and agencies more citizen-focused, transparent, accountable, and effective. These reforms include transparency and bill notice requirements, sunset review, performance-based budgeting, and longer-term budget planning.
Legislative Transparency Act - Bills should be available online for analysis and public review at least 72 hours before they are voted on. The Legislature has a bad habit of introducing bills at the last-minute, with little or no time for review, especially toward the end of session. This practice is a recipe for bad decision making no matter what your ideology is, and should no longer be allowed. In addition, members of the Legislature should be required to regularly post their office budgets on their Web sites. The public has a right to know how taxpayer money is being spent. I am committed to transparency in my own Assembly office and am introducing a bill, called the Legislative Transparency Act, to require more transparency throughout the State Legislature.
Sunset Review - I am working to implement a bipartisan system of accountability in California that will outlive in any one individual legislator or governor. Sunset Review, as modeled by the state of Texas, will send state agencies, boards, and commissions through a periodic and thorough review to ensure they are held accountable to meeting specified goals and objectives. Right now, California's 550 bureaucracies are accountable to no one, and too many of these boards and commissions offer little tangible benefit for Californians. State government operations should be reviewed on a regular basis, and we should eliminate or streamline boards and commissions that have outlived their usefulness or are inefficient.
Performance-Based Budgeting - I co-authored SB 14 this year which would have enacted performance-based budgeting in California. Under our current, broken system, budgets for state agencies and departments are based on baselines of how much was spent the previous year. Mandatory spending formulas lock in spending at higher levels that are unsustainable and that will worsen our long-term deficit. No accounting is done to ensure budget expenditures reflect our priorities and achieve desired results. Year after year, state budget writers fail to review whether an agency is getting the job done or whether bureaucrats are spending the people's money efficiently and effectively. Performance-based budgeting changes this, requiring state departments to justify how they are spending our hard-earned tax dollars. Unfortunately, the Governor vetoed SB 14, but I will continue advocating for the implementation of performance-based budgeting in California.
Two-year Budget Planning - I introduced Assembly Constitutional Amendment 8, which will change California's annual budget plan to a two-year budget plan, providing better stability and certainty to local governments, school districts, and private business vendors. ACA 8 also prohibits the adoption of a budget by the Legislature that leaves the State with a deficit in the succeeding year unless specific solutions are provided to eliminate that deficit. ACA 8, if passed, will return common sense to budgeting and require better long-term planning in California.
Californians are already being taxed to death, yet the current legislature is constantly proposing new ways to tax hard-working families. Just in the last couple of years we have seen an increase in sales tax, an increase in DMV licensing fees and there are taxes on the table right now that would increase the cost of gasoline and other items.
Late last year, the California legislature pulled a fast one on us and collected extra money straight out of our paychecks.
It’s time to tell the legislature to get its hands out of our pockets.
As an Assemblymember, I will fight to make sure the California legislature understands the people of the Central Valley are not their personal piggy bank. It is time to reverse the burdening taxes that have helped put the state in the financial mess it is in right now.
Let’s give money back to the families and businesses that are struggling to make ends meet to increase spending and get the economy back on track.
The Economy and Jobs
From the gold rush days up until recently, California was really seen as the “Golden State,” full of endless economic opportunity. The California economy is now the laughing stock of the country. The current economic climate in California is so gloomy that businesses continue to leave for other states at a record pace. Going with them are the thousands of good paying jobs that should stay in California. Those businesses that choose to stay are faced with increased regulations and tax burdens, causing them to make tough decisions like laying off employees or closing up shop for good.
On the Modesto City Council, I sought out ways to increase investment in the community, and partnered with business leaders in Modesto’s manufacturing industry to establish an Economic Capacity Bank, which will bring new business and create new jobs in Modesto.
I promise to continue to fight to create an environment that will attract businesses back to California, increase the number of jobs in the Central Valley and stimulate the economy. Small business is the driving force behind our economy, not big government interference. I will pursue policies that promote business growth and investment, and I will oppose policies that hinder it.
I want a California that I can be proud to call home and that will provide future business and economic opportunities for my children when they grow into adulthood.
For too long, state government officials have been extracting tax dollars from our local communities to fund their special interests. Serving on the Modesto City Council, I have dealt with the detrimental effects of the state’s irresponsible fiscal decisions. Cities and counties have been forced to shrink their budgets and cut basic civil services like police and fire response, infrastructure and education. Control is being lifted out of the hands of the people and dropped into those of bureaucrats who reallocate the funds as they see fit.
Taxpayer money should directly benefit the taxpayers. As an Assemblymember, I will fight to keep tax dollars working at the local level, allowing counties and cities to allocate funds where they are most needed to serve citizens.
Water is the lifeblood of the Central Valley, integral to the health and vitality of not only our agricultural fields, but of our economy and livelihood. The water crisis we are now in is man-made. California stood by and watched as the federal government shut off our water to save the Delta Smelt, but what did they sacrifice as a result? Acres upon acres of farm fields now lay fallow and thousands of jobs have been lost. The economy has suffered as we literally starve ourselves in favor of a two-inch fish. Current legislators are too busy trying to secure funding for their own special projects to take interest in the lifeblood of California’s economy. Our priorities are truly out of whack when a two-inch fish takes priority over human life.
California needs to pressure the federal government to repeal its ban on the Delta pumps and get the water flowing again. Without water, we have little hope for economic prosperity. Additionally, we must address the water storage problem immediately. Without addressing these issues, we are no doubt inflicting long-term economic damage to our state.
Public safety is the core service of government and should be prioritized as such. Unfortunately, it has been battered by state budget cuts. As a local government official, I dealt with the devastating impacts of Sacramento’s fiscal decisions that have trickled all the way down to public safety budgets. Our police and fire personnel provide vital, life-saving duties, and employees within our criminal justice system supervise some of the most volatile offenders, yet they are consistently the victims of heavy budget cuts and staff reductions. This has to change in order to keep our communities safe.
Cities and counties should not be forced to shrink their public safety budgets to pay for Sacramento’s special interests and irresponsible spending practices. As a mother and a citizen, I want to make sure that our law enforcement officers and firefighters have the necessary equipment and resources to provide top-quality protection for citizens and to fight against gangs, drug-related violence, robberies, fire, and other dangerous threats.
As an Assemblymember, I will fight to reduce government waste in order to alleviate the pressure on public safety departments around the state to keep our homes and children safe.
We must regain our status as #1 in educational excellence. The quality of California’s future workforce and, therefore, the strength of our economy depends on it. I am a strong advocate of education as the pathway to opportunity and economic strength.
To improve education, lower drop-out rates, and increase college-going rates, I am a strong proponent of local control. Local school boards should be empowered to choose how to best allocate education funds rather than state agencies. By streamlining education bureaucracies and empowering local school districts, more money can be directed into the classroom. In addition, public schools should be given the same amount of flexibility that charter schools currently have in order to attain educational excellence.
I am also a strong defender of parental rights, and believe that parents should play an active role in their children’s education. We have a responsibility to our children to strip away bureaucracy and to give them top-quality education so they have the opportunity to compete at top levels.