Editor’s note: On Sept. 30, former state Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia and current candidate for the state Senate’s 28th District spoke to the Town Crier on a variety of issues from the campaign. This is the second in a two-part interview. The first ran last week and is available here.
Role of the Brown Act
The Brown Act is the source of California’s open government laws. When asked her opinion of this law, Garcia adamantly replied, “It doesn’t go far enough. It should cover subcommittees of elected officials.”
And she disagreed with Gov. Brown’s recent veto of AB 194 that codified many court rulings implementing the law. She recommended that the actions of any elected or appointed official or group of officials who recommend the use of taxpayers’ resources should be open to public knowledge. “What’s wrong with public transparency?” she asked. “Public is the key word.”
Garcia stressed that she believes the approval of Proposition 30 in 2012, which raised some tax levels, was a temporary, not a permanent, fix to the state budget.
Personal income tax increases expire in 2018, and sales tax rate increases sunset in 2017.
Yet, Garcia said she worries about adequate funding for education and classrooms to help students learn.
Hemet Fire Department
Recently, the Hemet City Council approved an agreement to transfer management of its fire department to Riverside County. This decision is quite controversial and many voters would like to see a referendum on a ballot.
Garcia agreed that “local communities should have a voice in something that dissolves 100 years of performance. It’s a decision that should be made by voters and not the council.”
Garcia is proud of her past efforts and vowed to continue to stress funding for improving work-force training and support for the California state university system. This extends to the recent legislation passed and the governor signed to allow community colleges to award bachelor degrees in fields not currently served by the California State University or University of California
The new four-year-degree programs could be offered in vocational occupations for which an Associate of Arts degree had been acceptable in the past, but now increasingly require a bachelor’s degree to be competitive. These fields and occupations can include dental hygiene, industrial technology, allied health technology, emergency medical technology and data management for health care.
Also, she will work for programs aimed at 30- to 50-year-old adults who seek new career paths. And she strongly supports plans for statewide pre-school education. “Education is the great equalizer and better for all of us. Income level or community school shouldn’t matter,” she believes. “There should be no barriers to access for education.”