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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
San Francisco County, CA November 6, 2012 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Member of the State Assembly; District 17

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 Budget, Government reform, Higher education, Major issues

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

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

Answer from Tom Ammiano:

I believe California's budget should invest in services and infrastructure for the future. I oppose arbitrary budget cuts and believe that all options, including increased fees and taxes, must be on the table.

? 2. What types of changes or reforms, if any, do you think are important to make our state government function more effectively?

Answer from Tom Ammiano:

As a strong advocate for schools, health care and civil rights, I have been at the forefront of reform in California. I came to Sacramento with a desire to unite the state behind a strong leadership for change in California.

? 3. Fees for public higher education have gone up dramatically and funding has been cut. Is this a priority concern, and if so, what measures would you propose to address it?

Answer from Tom Ammiano:

My first priority for California's public schools is to make sure that Proposition 98 funding levels are protected. Our children's future should not be sacrificed because of the Governor's bad fiscal and political choices. Beyond defending Proposition 98, I will work with legislative allies and the education community to return California to its rightful place as the nation's premier education state. This will take a fresh look at raising revenues and finding the most effective way of using them to promote first class education for all our students.

We need to commit state resources and our best educational minds in the fight to bridge the achievement gap. Too many of our poor, African-American and Latino students are cheated-out of a real equal opportunity to succeed in school and thus succeed in life. We must do all we can to recruit new teachers and retain outstanding veteran teachers. We must create exciting learning communities in our poorest neighborhoods so that teachers will want to teach there, knowing there will be the support necessary "to make a difference" in students' lives. This will take an enormous effort since California faces a teaching shortage of ten's of thousands as the baby boomers retire. We need to create compensation and benefits so that teachers can afford to live in places like San Francisco. And, we need to make schools, in all of our communities: suburban, rural and urban and poor and middle-class, attractive places to tech by providing professional development that supports new teachers and allows veteran teachers to take leadership positions in the schools, alongside well-trained administrators.

Finally, our schools must once again become centers of community life. Recreation and after-school activities must be available not only to students, but also family members. Young families, especially in poor communities, should find counseling and parenting assistance at school sites. Communities at the core of the "achievement gap" must have schools that not only provide outstanding educational programs, but also programs that will promote family involvement in the schools.

Community colleges are a great example of the American Dream. They exist so all students can choose an academic or high-skilled career path after high school. More San Francisco students attend City College, by far, than any other post-high school program. Unfortunately, the Community College system in California, like the k-12 system, is grossly under funded for the enormous task of providing college level academics and outstanding adult and career path training for those students in or entering the job market. When funds are cut, programs are cut, student fees are increased and student choices are narrowed and often student dreams are deferred to a day that may never arrive. We need a mechanism that guarantees consistent adequate funding for the Community College system. The Community College system must receive enough funding so faculty can become full-time members of their college community. At present, too many of our community college faculty work part-time and this has to change. Every community college needs a stable, well-compensated faculty with health care and retirement security. That is, faculty committed to their local community college and its students and respected and rewarded for making that choice.

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

Answer from Tom Ammiano:

If re-elected to the State Assembly, my priorities will include: Universal access to health care I am proud of authoring and passing San Francisco's Health Care Access legislation which makes San Francisco the first City in the nation to provide universal health care. However, I believe single payer health care reform, is essential f In order to provide quality public schools and colleges, one of my priorities is to bring additional resources to the education system. There are loopholes in Proposition 13 which permit commercial properties to be transferred without triggering an update on property taxes and I plan to look into how these loopholes can be removed. I also would like to take a serious look at "split rolls", where certain commercial properties could be taxed at a different rate than residential properties.

Affordable housing We hear news daily about the horrible status of our home ownership market with foreclosures on the rise. We must remember that California faces a crisis in the availability and affordability of housing and I will respond to this crisis by promoting housing bond measures, protection of rent control, and other actions that will make funds available for more affordable housing.

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: December 17, 2012 13:48 PST
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