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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
Fresno, Tulare County, CA November 2, 2004 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Member of the State Assembly; District 31

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 Juan Arambula:

We must have a balanced, long range plan to improve California's economic health. The State budget must be balanced, the economy stimulated and revenues stabilized.

I have a proven track record of bringing people together to solve problems. I know how to set priorities and make the difficult choices necessary to balance a budget. In fact, I have passed a balanced budget, on time, each year for the past 17 years, even during tough economic times. The same thoughtful and reasoned approach I have used to address budget challenges while on the Fresno School Board and the Fresno County Board of Supervisors will be applied to the challenges currently facing the State budget.

I will continue to be a fiscal watchdog, who is ready to work with the Governor and members of both parties to solve the State's budget deficit and create real change in Sacramento. We must learn to live within our means, accept that we cannot afford to fund every program we want, and fund those essential services that have the highest priority.

Some say we can balance our budget with budget cuts alone, others believe we can balance our budget solely by increasing taxes, while others prefer to borrow our way out, and pass the cost on to the next generation.

I believe we must first set priorities and determine what services are essential for State government to provide. We must look at each department to determine that taxpayer dollars are being spent in the most cost effective manner possible and ensure accountability measures are in place.

In order to get out of our current budget problems, however, there will be many sacrifices and real cuts to be made. We must make common-sense decisions about what is most important and what can be cut. The Legislature and the Governor must work cooperatively to make reasoned and necessary reductions in State expenditures, always remembering that we have been elected to solve problems and provide essential services.

Answer from Paul H Betancourt:

Governor Schwarzenegger has called for a top to bottom audit of the State's budget. The taxpayers deserve to know where our tax dollars are being spent. Once that has been completed we can see where cuts need to be made and priorities re-arranged..
The Governor has proposed a budget that seeks to protect public education and public safety. I think those are our top priorities.
We Californian's spend an average of 35-45% of our income in taxes. I think that is enough. The Governor has said we have a spending problem not a revenue problem. I agree.

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

Answer from Paul H Betancourt:

The value of public education is at an all time high. The jobs of the 21st Century will require more education and training than ever. We need to continue our investment in public education but we must also encourage higher achievement.
There have been a lot of reforms in education in the last ten years. We must hold our educators accountable for the achievement of their students but we must also give them the tools they need to do their job. I am a firm believer in local control. Our schools must be given clear goals and the tools to do the job. Then they must be encouraged and held accountable to get the job of educating the next generation of citizens and workers educated.

Answer from Juan Arambula:

Having spent nine years on the Fresno School Board, the third largest school district in the state, with over 100 languages spoken and a majority of students living below the poverty level, I am well aware there are no easy answers.

I strongly support adequate funding for K-12 public schools as well as for community colleges and state universities. I also believe the legislature needs to significantly reduce the costly and burdensome regulations that micromanage almost every aspect of public education while, at the same time, holding public schools accountable for their performance.

We must focus more on getting the results we need, and less on telling people how to do their jobs. We must significantly decrease the drop out rates and greatly improve the skills and academic achievement of those that graduate. We must also provide our instructors with the resources and the support they need to do their jobs.

Technical and vocational training programs can play a critical role in providing individuals with marketable skills to meet the demands of a changing economy. I would place a renewed emphasis on technical and vocational training. We also need better coordination been high school, community college and workforce preparation programs. A better-educated workforce will improve the state's economy.

I strongly support the use of an exit exam to ensure students have achieved the level of competency that employers and the general public expect. We should have had an exit exam all along. In addition, parents should be provided meaningful information on their child's academic performance all the way through their child's education, long before they graduate.

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

Answer from Paul H Betancourt:

We must improve our water supply to meet the needs of our growing population. Increased conservation in our homes and on our farms is a start. We must also fundamentally increase our water supply. Low energy desalinization will help our neighbors on the coast but, we must look at increased storage inland. I support Congressman Nunes' plans for Temperance Flats since it will increase storage on a river we already utilize. We must also look at improving water re-use for irrigation, landscaping and the environment. It is also important to invest in the research at Fresno State to improve irrigation efficiency. Water has been a precious and limiting resource in our Valley for over a century. We need to continue to improve the stewardship of our water supply so our environment can remain healthy and our communities and our farms can prosper.

Answer from Juan Arambula:

Because our water supply is finite, each drop of water in California is precious.

We must have a consistent and reliable water supply for all Californians, which will require expanded and better-managed storage and delivery systems. We must also increase conservation and reuse.

Groundwater supplies a significant proportion of California's drinking water. In rural areas, 90% of the population relies on groundwater as their only supply of drinking water.

California's groundwater resources are threatened by over-drafting and chemical contamination.

Water quality is of grave concern.

  • The state must fully enforce state laws that govern construction and maintenance of individual disposal systems such as septic tanks.

  • Oil companies must phase out the use of the gasoline additive MTBE, a possible carcinogen, which is highly mobile in water. MTBE contaminates 10,000 groundwater sites throughout California.

  • When contaminants are discovered in water wells, the Water Board must promptly identify the source of the pollution and limit spread of the contamination.

Ensuring a stable supply of safe drinking water and water for agricultural and industrial uses is crucial to the health of our residents and the economic vitality of our Valley.

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

Answer from Paul H Betancourt:

We must create a system where our emergency rooms are used for trauma cases not as health care providers of last resort. This is a state wide problem that has been aggravated here in the Valley because we have been neglected by Sacramento.

Another thing that must happen is that out small businesses and farms must be allowed to join together in pools large enough to get affordable health care. Most small business employers are priced out of the health care market because they cannot get into the pools enjoyed by larger employers and government agencies. This must change. This is an issue that I have been working on through the Farm Bureau the past few years. It is an idea who's time is long past. It will be one of my priorities in Sacramento.

The State must also address the nursing shortage. Yes, we have a budget crisis but we also have a severe nursing shortage. One of the reasons is we have not invested enough in the nursing programs in our community and state colleges. That must change. With our aging population and increasingly complex medical technologies we are going to need more nurses in the future.

Answer from Juan Arambula:

I support the goal of ensuring all Californians have access to affordable quality health care. We must strive to develop a high quality health care delivery system, which serves the health care needs of all Californians.

We must reduce the numbers of uninsured and underinsured, both from a public health policy perspective and because of the tremendous human toll. Far too many Californians, with limited access to health care, simply suffer in silence and eventually flock to our emergency rooms, which are ill equipped to handle the deluge. Our emergency rooms are overwhelmed with minor illnesses and uninsured people are caught in medical emergencies, caused by delaying necessary medical care until their medical condition has reached a crisis. Revenues can be saved by shifting treatment costs from expensive emergency room visits to less expensive and more effective early preventative treatment.

As a legislator, I would work with my colleagues who have taken a leadership role in bringing this critical issue to the forefront. Everyone benefits as more people are brought under the umbrella of healthcare insurance.

The workers compensation system still requires reform. Reforming the workers compensation system will provide needed relief to employers and could also free up additional funds for health insurance expansion.

I support increased state funding of Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to health care providers, given the actual cost of providing care, to reduce cost shifting to private health care plans. I support effective outreach programs to increase enrollment in Medi-Cal and Health Family programs. I also support the use of technology and computerized systems to improve chronic disease management and care coordination, by targeting the 20% of the population that accounts for 80% of healthcare costs, to significantly reduce costs for those patients and taxpayers in general.

In summary, I support finding ways to ensure that all Californians have health care, and ensure the entire health care system is financially sound.

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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