Attendees: From San Jose/Santa Clara: Marie Arnold, Sandy Mory, Leslie Hallenbeck From Santa Cruz County: Barbara Lewis (lead), Sue Becker, Marcia Minnihan
Q1: Funding of Elections: What legislative measures would you support to ensure adequate and stable funding of election administration in California? Make sure elections get consolidated, e.g. by having fewer off year elections and fewer special elections. Electronic voting systems need updating and new equipment is needed, and unfunded mandates are a problem. Since the General Fund is under stress this year, Assemblyman Stone supports updating equipment and systems and whatever can be accomplished in this area.
Q2: Public Higher Education: How can California meet the challenge of enrolling more students, including students with greater needs, at the UC and CSU? Is more state funding needed? Where does this issue rank in your legislative priorities? Assemblyman Mark Stone supports making higher education a priority and continuing this year's success in funding it at a higher level than prisons, a reversal of the prior funding priorities. He supports focusing on the under served community by pell grants and other such aid. There are not enough slots for California students in the mix. The fact that public higher education is not covered in Proposition 98 as well as the passage of Proposition 13 putting more pressure on K-12 has contributed to the budget problems.
Q3: Water Resources: What kinds of legislative proposals would you support to ensure that enough water of adequate quality is available for municipal and industrial uses, agriculture, and the environment in the face of over-stretched surface water and groundwater resources and climate conditions different than those California experienced in the last century? We are the last western state to manage groundwater. Most surface water is caught up in over allocation of water rights. Residential water is 20% of use and industrial and agriculture the other 80%. A better job of moving water around would produce energy savings. The Environmental Safety and Water, Parks, and Wildlife committees are very important in the work on managing water resources. Mark Stone supports using storm water as a supply source, recharging aquifers, long-term storage, recovering dam capacities, holding water from snow packs, improved battery systems for water and solar, and using cap and trade money. Water and energy are related.
Q4: Affordable Housing In discussing the affordable housing question posed by the San Jose/Santa Clara League, Assemblyman Stone recommended changing the fixed tax structure to fund what we need funded. Following the passage of Proposition 13, home owners are paying the bulk of the per cent of property taxes while commercial properties can change hands many times without a property tax increase.
Q5: What other major issues do you think the Legislature must address in 2017? What are your priorities? The legislature should prioritize the health care system, the federal push back on immigration, and environmental protection. The legislature also needs to address transportation infrastructure and water. Some personal priorities are reforming the child welfare system, the juvenile justice system, prison reform, coastal and climate change adaptation.