Feb. 23, 2012 | AC Transit board member Joel Young says he would support further cuts to the state budget, if elected to the Assembly’s 18th District.
Young’s response came in a questionnaire from the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club. The Progressive group is holding a debate/forum tonight featuring all three candidates in Oakland. It also plans to offer an endorsement afterwards.
Young’s response differs with those of his opponents. Alameda Vice Mayor Rob Bonta and Peralta Community College Truste Abel Guillen also filled out the identical questionnaire.
When asked “Do you support cuts in the next state budget?”, Young checked yes. Both Bonta and Guillen check no.
“Like just about everyone in the state,” wrote Young, “I’d like to cut the budget for the [Department of Corrections]. I’m cautiously optimistic about the prospects of realignment for reducing recidivism among non‐violent offenders. I also believe that every dollar we invest in early childhood education will save us money down the road. I had a conversation with a lieutenant at Santa Rita jail who told me that they use 3rd grade reading levels to predict the future prison population. That’s shocking and perverse.”
In another section, Young said he believes the state’s sales tax is too high. “I think it’s regressive,” he wrote. “I support a 5% tax on services.” Later, he said the threshold for approving local tax measures should be lowered from a two-thirds majority to 55 percent. Doing so, though, often removes the biggest obstacle allowing measures like increases in sales tax from gaining passage.
Bonta said he would not support further cuts to the state budget, but instead focus solely on increasing revenues. Bonta wrote of three possibilities, two of which, he says, appear unlikely, including working with Republicans who have exhibited a hard “no tax” stance, hope Democrats achieve a two-thirds majority, or more likely increase revenues. Bonta said he would continue approving state budget matters by a simple majority from a two-thirds supermajority, explore the use of an oil excise tax, a split-roll property tax, close corporate tax loopholes and increase sales taxes on sugary beverages. Bonta would also raise tax on the “very wealthy,” according to the questionnaire.
Guillen’s stance almost splits the difference between Bonta and Young. “I think there should be a third option–a combination of revenue enhancements and cuts where we can achieve greater efficiencies,” wrote Guillen.
He says $1 billion in state revenues could be redirected from closing prisons and youth correctional facilities. Like Bonta, he would also close tax loopholes, but also increase funding to schools, parks and hospitals. Guillen also supports increasing taxes on the rich. “If we were to take tax rates on the richest 1% of the population back from 9.3% to 10% for people who make over $300,000 and increase and increase rates to 11% for individuals that make over $600,000 a year, we would be able to raise at least $1.5 billion in revenue to fund our shared infrastructure including public hospitals, health clinics and schools.”
Thursday’s Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club forum starts at 6:45 p.m. at the Humanist Hall, 390 27th Ave., Oakland.