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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
Los Angeles County, CA November 6, 2012 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Member of the State Assembly; District 51

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 Luis Lopez:

The state failed to grow responsibly when fiscal times were good. Now Sacramento lawmakers are slashing education and essential services and enacting temporary fixes that often create more problems. We need new revenue to sustain our long-term investments in schools, public health, parks, courts, and the campuses that launch careers and spark innovation. These are the pathways of advancement in our state that helped me get ahead and are key to opportunity and growth here in our neighborhoods, now and tomorrow. We also need new leadership and fresh direction on the budget, not machine politics and band-aids. My career has been in community healthcare, where we always need to achieve more, and do so with limited means. This is the mentality I will bring to Sacramento, where progressive values and responsible leadership have never been so necessary.

Answer from Jimmy Gomez:

We need to revisit our tax code and level the playing field: no more special treatment for corporations and wealthy individuals. We need to reform the tax code to smooth out revenue collection to avoid boom and bust cycles, and crack down on corporations and individuals that ship their profits offshore.

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

Answer from Luis Lopez:

1) We must elect people who represent and have roots and a record of service in the communities we represent. A solid background of local community leadership prepares decision-makers to be responsible and responsive to diverse constituents. Broad-based support from district voters and stakeholders ensures lawmakers are accountable to voters, not beholden to PACs and special interests.

2) We must adopt a long-term approach to budgeting. And we must honor and sustain our investment in people's advancement, through education, healthcare, job training, and basic infrastructure, as well as parks, recreation, and environmental preservation. Unless these essential functions are on a strong budget footing, we put our present at risk and our future education and economic opportunity, our job and tax base, and our shared quality of life in peril. By focusing on and making the difficult decisions to strengthen our pathways of advancement, we can restore the California dream.

3) We must overcome the barriers to new revenue in our state. And we must recalibrate some taxes to ensure they are fair to working and middle class families and sufficient for our state to function. When two dozen other states assess a tax on oil removed from their soil, there is no excuse for our state not to do so on the corporations that extract our common resource. With homeowners now bearing the greater burden of our property taxes, instead of commercial holders, we need to revisit the gaps in reassessment of commercial property to restore integrity and generate uncollected revenue. And the very wealthiest Californians, making more than $1 million annually and who have prospered greatly in our state, can afford to pay slightly more in taxes and must be asked to do so. All together, the additional revenues gained through these means will help put our state and the pathways of advancement for people here on a sound footing, going forward. We have made progress in adopting, with the insistence of state voters, budgeting based on majority votes in the legislature. We need to extend that to revenue and tax policy so that there is honesty and accountability in the process. I will be a voice of fairness, discipline, and independence in overcoming the barriers to implementing these commonsense reforms.

Answer from Jimmy Gomez:

We need to end the partisan gridlock that has created a stalemate in Sacramento. In my professional life and even my personal life, I live by a simple motto, which is: Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. This happens often when people are holding out for legislation that is perfect or a program that is perfect. And what they fail to accomplish is what is good for the community or the family

You need to able to reach across the aisle and compromise when necessary.

? 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 Jimmy Gomez:

As a Community Colleger teacher, I know first hand the affects the high tuition cost has on our students.

We need to invest in our educational system. I will restore funding to our schools, lower tuition rates at community colleges, and fight to fulfill the promise of California's education system to our students.

Answer from Luis Lopez:

I have firsthand experience with the value of our public higher education system, as does my family. Two community colleges provided me critical coursework after my graduation from Pomona College and before I entered Harvard University, from which I gained a masters degree in 2000. ALL Angelenos have a stake in keeping higher education in reach for middle-class Californians. Evidence shows, however, that state budget cuts and repeated tuition hikes have nearly doubled tuition over the past 3 years and decreased middle-class access to both the UC and CSU system, while limiting or denying many students' access to community colleges. Meanwhile, students face increasing levels of college debt: an average of $25,000 from mortgage-like loans with no homes to show for it. I support a tuition freeze at state campuses and efforts by Assembly Speaker Perez to provide middle-class scholarships for California students. And I support full funding of the California Grant Program, as well as the federal Pell Grant and TRIO programs. I also support extension of federal Stafford Loan interest rate at 3.4 percent. In addition, I support education opportunities for returning veterans and consumer protections against pressure to enter and pay for-profit providers. I support similar consumer protections for student-loan borrowers in bankruptcy. Pursuing higher education, like gaining access to life-saving or life-sustaining healthcare, should not leave Californians saddled with debt that undermines productivity. Instead, our state must honor hard work and the quest for health and educational advancement, as well as the people who preserve these paths for neighbors and the next generation, by keeping them open and making their pursuit less onerous.

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

Answer from Luis Lopez:

1) Our state must continue its course toward full equality for all Californians. I am proud of my leadership and coalition-building in this area and will be a champion for legislation and oversight necessary to advance this purpose and ensure equal protection of the law for LGBT people as well as committed same-sex couples, their children and families.

2) I am proud to have the endorsement of former state supreme court justice Carlos Moreno, a native of our 51st District and a resident who, throughout his career, has been an independent and conscientious voice for fairness for workers, for students, for immigrant families, and for equal access to services and opportunities in our state. But leaders of his caliber do not and cannot exist in a vacuum. I am deeply concerned about the continuing toll of budget cuts on our state courts, on the children and families who depend on them for justice, and on the people who follow in the footsteps of retired Justice Moreno through public service in the administration of justice. Our state court system is in critical need of rescue from the neglect of its systems, delay of cases, and discharge of staff, trends that fuel cynicism and corruption. I will shine a light on this problem and be a champion for the return to good health of our state's court system.

3) We also need to renew our state focus and strategic engagement with the arts and the creative economy. Artists' incomes and the pathways toward jobs and opportunities in creative professional took severe hits during the economic downtown of the past 4 years. Northeast Los Angeles and East L.A. are historic engines of creativity in all areas of the arts and arts education. I will be a champion for the arts, for arts education in and outside our public schools and campuses, for incentives to include artists in economic development, and for access to the creative professions for people in my district.

Answer from Jimmy Gomez:

Health Care: Every child in California should have access to quality health care, and we should lead the way in guaranteeing every Californian health care coverage.

Jobs: I'm already fighting for good jobs in the health care industry, but we need to invest in our community colleges, infrastructure projects, and other programs that prepare workers and create good jobs you can raise a family on.

Schools: Education is the pathway to a better life for our children, but students can't succeed if schools fail. I will make sure our schools have the funding, support, and resources they need to prepare our students to succeed in college or the workplace.

I know how education can make a difference because it did for me.

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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