The following information was released by Congressional candidate Gary DeLong. Emphasis added.
Note that Mr. DeLong addresses only his Democratic opponent, Alan Lowenthal. Because of the new “top-two” primary, the June primary election will send the top-two vote-getters on to the November election. In the June election, Mr. DeLong is also running against Republicans Steve Kuykendall, Sanford Kahn and Steve Foley.
Recently my opponent for the 47th Congressional District, State Senator Alan Lowenthal, held a public meeting at Cal State Long Beach to discuss the ongoing budget cuts to our educational system. Alan stated, “The future of affordable and accessible public education depends on the passing of the governor’s tax initiative in November.” That’s right, in today’s tough economy Alan wants to raise taxes on Californians.
In Long Beach, there has been some talk of increasing taxes. However, Mayor Bob Foster, myself and others have pointed out we shouldn’t even think about raising taxes until we’ve made government more efficient, evaluated more cost effective delivery systems and reformed the pension system – which is the largest and fastest growing government expense.
And we’ve made some progress in both these areas: 1) The number of City General Fund employees has decreased from 3,367 in 2002 to 2,578 in 2012, a decrease of 23%, and 2) The Police union, Fire union and and several other City labor organizations have agreed to significantly reduce their pension benefit, as well as pay more into the system. However, we still have a ways to go in both pension reform for all employees, and making government more cost effective.
Meanwhile what has the State legislature accomplished? Well, the number of State employees has increased from 282,000 since Alan became a state official in 1998 to 341,000 currently, a 21% increase. And in regard to pension reform, Governor Brown proposed a 12 point pension reform plan over a year ago on March 31, 2011 and the State legislature has yet to enact any of it. Before asking Californians to pay higher taxes, should the State government reduce pension benefits to what they were in 2000 before they were significantly increased by the State legislature? And yes, Alan voted to increase the pension benefits to unsustainable levels, which is a major cause of the State’s budget problems.
Meanwhile, what’s been happening to our Education system (State Senator Lowenthal is currently Chair of the Education Committee)? In a recent conversation with Cal State Long Beach President F. King Alexander, he mentioned that the State has reduced funding to the Cal State system by over 30% over the last 18 months. Similar cuts have been made to the UC and Community College systems. Due to this reduction in state funding, the universities have had to increase tuition rates to all time highs, and fewer classes are available to students which will make it very difficult to graduate within 4 years.
Are our universities inefficient? Does it cost too much to educate a student in California? Not according to the New York Times. On Sunday, April 15th, the NY Times published an article indicating that the Cal State system is one of the more cost effective higher education systems in the country.
Meanwhile, the State spends over $50,000 annually to incarcerate a prisoner, but only $4,500 to educate a university student. Why isn’t the State legislature working on ways to make the system more cost effective? Apparently they’d rather incarcerate than educate.
Please let me know your thoughts on the best way to make our State healthy again. Is it time to increase taxes? Or should the State legislature reform the pension system and take other actions to make government more efficient? Should we be investing more taxpayer dollars in our education systems to ensure that our children will have the skills necessary to compete in a global economy?
I’m open to ideas from everyone. Please let me know which direction you think we should take – I can be reached at Gary@GaryDeLong.com.
Editor’s note: this article has been edited at the request of the DeLong campaign to correct minor typos.
Courtesy photo of Congressional candidate Gary DeLong.
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