I am formally announcing my candidacy to be the next Governor of the State of California.
If you want to know why I am running, the answer is really quite simple.
Because there are two Californias — the one we have, and the one we could have.
The California we have is in trouble, and we need to do something about it.
We have the highest state income tax in the nation, but rank dead last in friendliness to business. We have the highest poverty rate in the country. Our unfunded public pension liability has reached the critical stage and we haven’t even begun to fund our huge public retiree health care liability. Our high cost of living, including our regressive taxes are hurting the middle class, with the highest state sales tax, and sky-high gas taxes, traffic fines, and utility rates. The list goes on.
It wasn’t always that way, of course. There was a time California was the envy of the nation. My mom and most of my family moved here, when we were truly the Golden State. The best schools, best roads and highways, a financially sound public pension system, good and plentiful jobs, affordable housing, and quality health care.
That’s not the case today and a major reason is the state legislature, whose members, instead of being policy leaders, have become full-time professional fundraisers and campaigners.
Why? Because today a California State Assembly Member represents more than 450,000 people, and a State Senate district includes nearly one million people. Campaigns that large take millions of dollars and armies of workers.
As a result, legislators spend countless hours on the phone raising money. They’ll start their day with a breakfast fundraising event, and end it with a fundraising cocktail party, and we all know where those millions are coming from.
Think about it. Legislators are largely funded, not by the voters, but by the lobbyists whose bills they’re going to vote on.
You couldn’t have designed a system more fraught with temptation, or ripe for reform.
This is not a Republican problem or a Democrat problem. It’s a problem for everyone who cares about honest government.
In a recent survey, voters ranked “Removing the corrupting influence of special interest money in California politics” as more important than climate change, pension reform, immigration, or jobs and the economy.
And more importantly, even with the public so sharply divided on so many issues, more than 90% of Democrats, Independents and Republicans ranked the corrupting influence of special interest money to be the most important issue facing California.
Well, I have a plan to make legislative districts small enough that anyone can run, and they won’t need special interest money to do it. These smaller, neighborhood districts will allow elections to be decided on issues and character, not 30 second commercials or vicious mail pieces.
Our plan also cuts the budget of the legislature by a third, saving you millions of dollars, and allows people to once again run for office as a public service instead of a career — people who aren’t looking to make a buck, but to make a difference.
I believe that’s our best hope for putting our state back on the road to financial accountability, to getting government off the backs of the small businesses that create jobs and, and out of the pockets of those who today must often choose between buying groceries or filling their tank to get to work.
There are two Californias, all right. Isn’t it time we chose the one that could be? To restore the promise of a decent life in the Golden State?
The future doesn’t belong to Republicans or to Democrats. It belongs to our children. Let’s leave them a California worthy of their dreams