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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
Riverside, San Diego County, CA November 2, 2004 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Member of the State Assembly; District 66

The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of California and asked of all candidates for this office.

See below for questions on Budget Crisis, Education, Water, Health Insurance

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

1. What does California need to do to address the current budget crisis?

Answer from Laurel A Nicholson:

We need to cut spending and stop borrowing. At the same time, however, we must be careful not to cut education or other programs so deeply that will hurt our future and our children's future.

So here's my idea: If the legislature can't pass the budget by the mandated date, the new budget should automatically revert to last year's budget. That way, we're never without a budget or in danger of having our credit rating impugned again.

It would also serve as an incentive for our legislators to act as if they're working for the same goal -- to improve and protect the lives of their constituents -- instead of just posturing for their next campaign (and blaming the other party in the meantime).

If a new budget is not approved and automatically reverts to last year's budget on a certain date, you can bet that our legislators would be working earlier, harder, and in good faith to get the budget approved on time -- especially if legislators wanted to get their pet projects into the budget.

None of us want to see this budget fight year after year; it hurts the State. With the increased revenues coming from personal income due to a stronger economy (almost $14 billion in the last 2 years), we can balance the budget by just holding the line on spending. It's not rocket science.

We also need to increase revenues but without a general tax increase. My solution is to reassess corporate property when it changes hands and real estate purchases by limited patnerships. This is simply a fairness issue. Everytime we buy a new home, taxes are reassessed on our property. Businesses should not be exempt.

2. What should the state's priorities be for K-12 education? For the Community College System?

Answer from Laurel A Nicholson:

For K-12, we need to provide more financial control to the local schools with teachers and parents having a vote on how that money should be spent. Depending on the school and the student needs, money can be used for more English or math classes, or it can be used to reinstate art and Band programs that were discontinued because of lack of funds.

We need to put a higher importance on gathering and maintaining student data so we will be able to measure the progress of policy decisions, textbooks, and teaching programs in our schools. Also, standards need to be better aligned with grade testing.

In addition, we need to eliminate excessive testing. (There is no need to test every grade every year.)

Also, I strongly support the PTA's resolution to provide equitable funding throughout the state for school transporation and replace school buses that do not meet current safety standards. Currently, California public schools operate the oldest and most outdated school bus fleets in the nation, many of which no longer meet current federal safety standards. Fast-growing districts, like the 66th Assembly District (such as Murrieta and Temecula) are hurt the most because the funding for transportation has not changed in 25 years. So transporation expenses are charged against money that would otherwise be spent for the classroom and our children's education.

For Community Colleges, we need to keep costs low so that anyone who wants a college education can afford to get one. In addition, we need adequate funding for teacher training programs. And again, we should allow more flexbility at the local level so that the schools can adapt their curriculum to the needs of the students.

3. What measures would you support to address California's water needs?

Answer from Laurel A Nicholson:

We need to have the Municipal Water boards work together to reinstate California's fair share of the Colorado River supply. In addition we need to look at constructing desalination plants to convert saline water into fresh water. This is not only a long-term necessity, it is also an excellent source of job growth.

4. What should the Legislature be doing to address the needs of Californians without health insurance?

Answer from Laurel A Nicholson:

We need to strive to provide access to health for everyone; although this should be a federal, not state, mandate. At the same time, we need to support non-profit community and public facilities which offer health care to the uninsured. In addition, we need to keep our trauma centers open to any emergency.

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League. 

The order of the candidates is random and changes daily.

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Created: December 15, 2004 13:39 PST
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