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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
Alameda County, CA November 6, 2012 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Member of the State Assembly; District 18

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 Abel Guillen:

My chief goals and priorities as Assemblymember will be to represent our progressive values in Sacramento to get our State back on track. We need to make the tough decisions to reprioritize education, invest in (green) jobs to rebuild California's infrastructure and ensure that all Californian's have access to quality affordable healthcare. We can move toward achieving these goals by working to update California's tax and revenue policy to better reflect our knowledge- and service-based economy.

California is grappling with a fiscal and economic crisis of historic proportions. To continue making investments in our schools, protect the safety net, keep our neighborhoods safe, and meet the demands of a growing state, we must find long-term revenue solutions to our state budget problems. As Assemblymember, I will work to enact meaningful long-term budget reform, fight against "cuts-only" budgets, and champion majority-vote requirements for approving revenues.

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

Answer from Abel Guillen:

In broad terms, California needs to support fiscal infrastructure changes that improve the sustainable delivery of quality community and regional services. Provided it is part of comprehensive fiscal management and performance improvements, revenue reform should help better align the tax structure with the new economy. In California, the continuing transition to a knowledge- and service-based economy has ramifications for how tax structure influences investment decisions, as well as how much revenue is generated by certain taxes.

We need a comprehensive approach to balancing the budget and providing vital public services. We cannot rely on spending cuts or balance the budget on the backs of students, our elderly or working families. Especially given the size of the current deficit, we will need to consider sensible revenue solutions as well. We should also consider looking at two-year budgets as opposed to one-year budgets + this would bring more stability, efficiency and planning to government agencies. We need to establish a long-term, sustainable and fair-share revenue structure to help minimize the constant need for drastic year-to-year cuts that hurt the most vulnerable segments of our population.

We need to set our priorities straight and invest in the future. For example, if we were to take tax rates on the richest 1% of the population back from 9.3% to 10% for people who make over $300,000/year and increase rates to 11% for individuals making over $600,000/year, we could raise at least $1.5 billion to fund our shared infrastructure that includes public hospitals, health clinics and schools.

We need to modernize our tax policy and make investment decisions now to secure a more prosperous future. I support an oil and gas severance tax. I will also support splitting California's property tax roll between commercial and single-family residences to modernize our major revenue collections. We need to close corporate tax loopholes + not schools, hospitals or state parks.

? 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 Abel Guillen:

California was in the top ten in education funding but has now fallen to 47 out of 50 states in the U.S. This is unacceptable. As Assemblymember, I will fight to increase investments for our students and teachers, improve accountability, and put more resources into the classroom.

Higher education is on the frontline of preparing individuals for good jobs and revitalizing our economy. We need to invest more in education and training programs, especially for growing sectors like high-tech and green business. To make education more relevant for today's student in this economy, it is also crucial that we focus on career technology education programs at the high school level and beyond. Despite state funding cuts, as a community college trustee, I have secured over $20 million in grants for career education and green jobs at Peralta Colleges, and led collaborations with other local agencies to deliver results that matter. Because our colleges are on the frontlines of job training, I have pushed for effective educational programs in health care, biotech and green businesses to get our people back to work.

California is at an economic crossroads. With smart and sustained investments, our public education system can be the economic engine that propels our state to long-term prosperity for everyone.

As a school finance expert, I helped deliver over $2.5 billion to build and modernize neighborhood schools and community colleges throughout the state + benefiting over 100,000 students. I will continue to push for smart, effective investments in our public education system. I have the education experience and financial expertise needed to make smart investments that improve our public schools. For California and the East Bay to compete in the global economy, we must refocus and reprioritize our public education system. That means fighting cuts to education and making sustained long-term investments in our schools.

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

Answer from Abel Guillen:

Please read more about my priorities and solutions for California at

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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