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|League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Paul H Betancourt
Read the answers from all candidates.
1. What does California need to do to address the current budget crisis?
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?
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.
3. What measures would you support to address California's water needs?
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.
4. What should the Legislature be doing to address the needs of Californians without health insurance?
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.
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