10 Bold Steps to
10 Bold Steps to Change California
Fight Poverty with a True Living Wage
So many of our problems are complicated. Lifting millions of Californians out of poverty is simple – make the minimum wage a true living wage.
Do you want to lower crime, make government more efficient, and address homelessness in a smarter way? It starts with a real living wage that brings hope and dignity to every worker. When more people work, crime goes down. When people make a living wage, they don’t need government subsidies. If people can afford their rent – they don’t have to live in their cars or on the streets.
Of course a true living wage makes economic sense. But beyond the proven economic fundamentals, the people who cook our food, wash our dishes, clean our homes and offices, and take care of our kids should make enough to pay rent and put food on the table. It is that simple.
And that is what I will do – take on the corporations profiting from an economy that exploits low-wage workers and pass a true living wage.
I am the only corporate-free candidate in the race for Assembly. Many of the other candidates are talking a good game – but we all know how this system works. Candidates funded by corporations have a nearly unbroken record of breaking campaign promises and towing the corporate line when the going gets tough.
The corporations and the billionaires know I won’t play that game. They are attacking our surging grassroots campaign nearly every day. Why? Because they know we are not afraid to do what’s right – including passing a real living wage.
Pass Medicare for All in California
Under intense pressure from the for-profit healthcare industry, Sacramento politicians just ducked a crucial vote to adopt quality and universal healthcare in California – Medicare for All.
We already know the lack of quality and affordable healthcare care is literally killing Californians. And during the pandemic we saw the terrible reality that Black people are up to twice as likely to die of COVID-19 and Latinos in California are up to three times more likely to die.
What we don’t talk about enough is that passing Medicare for All won’t just save lives – it will save billions of dollars. Up to one third of every healthcare dollar goes to insurance company costs and profit and medical bureaucracy. We can eliminate these billions of dollars of waste – and spend the money saving lives and making California healthier – with money to spare.
I have been fighting for universal and quality healthcare for virtually my entire career in public service. As a child, we frequently went without healthcare. Maybe that’s why I fought so hard to keep St. Luke’s Hospital open and to safeguard San Francisco’s pioneering universal healthcare program. I know it saves lives.
The reason politicians in Sacramento ducked a vote on Medicare for All is clear – a massive lobbying campaign from the for-profit healthcare industry backed by obscene campaign spending. We see that in our race for Assembly, with the for-profit healthcare industry backing on of our chief opponents – Tenderloin Supervisor Matt Haney.
Our campaign is completely corporate-free – and we accept no funds from the for-profit healthcare lobby or any corporations.
Pass A Green New Deal for California
Whether it’s orange skies in San Francisco, fires burning in our hills or California’s punishing droughts, we see the effects of climate change everywhere.
And the science shows — things are getting worse quickly. Climate and weather-related disasters have surged five-fold in the last 50 years, affecting communities across California and beyond.
Fortunately, we have solutions. We know what it will take to reduce emissions and create a healthy California for generations to come. But we need to stop being timid and embrace bold solutions now. Here are mine.
We need to transition to clean renewable energy now. We are waiting too long to require the lower-cost and safer energy from wind, solar and other completely renewable sources. Moving towards this energy not only creates middle-class jobs now, it stabilizes prices so our energy bills don’t keep going up. Here is another dirty little secret the energy companies don’t want you to know – renewable energy is now dramatically less expensive than carbon fuels.
We need to ban fracking now. Fracking releases methane, trapping about 86x more heat in the atmosphere than CO2, pollutes our drinking and wastewater, causes erosion, earthquakes and dangerous sinkholes, and the effects disproportionately impact communities of color, especially indigenous groups. The only way toward a clean, renewable energy future is to ban fracking everywhere, starting in California.
We need to establish a Blue New Deal now. 68.5% of Californians live in coastal areas and have seen the effects of sea-level rise in their backyards. This is why one of my first proposals in the state Assembly will be based around a Blue New Deal involving the end of offshore drilling, the restoration of our coasts, and the investment into a “blue economy” that will create middle-class jobs for Californians.
We need to create a Civilian Fire Corps now. We must utilize indigenous knowledge of forest management to reduce wildfire risk across the state. I propose the creation of a “Civilian Fire Corps,” made up of 1 million Californians making a living wage who are trained and tasked with taking care of our forests and preserves, led by indigenous groups. Nationally, a similar program consists of 20,000 members who have managed to restore 1.73 million acres, plant 1.3 million trees, and build or maintain over 25,000 miles of trails.
These proposals will protect our state for years to come, not to mention the immense costs that we will save in the future by tackling the climate problem now. Natural disasters related to climate change cost us precious lives and, on average, $1 billion each.
End Childhood Hunger & Create an Equitable School System
This is simple. This is just. And this is possible. We can end childhood hunger in California – and we can do it in the year ahead.
It is estimated that 1,490,300 children are food insecure in California today. Even before the pandemic, nearly 14% of children did not know when their next meal would be. California’s budget surplus gives us the power to end childhood hunger now – so that children can go to school and focus on what really matters.
California’s public school system guides most children through their development. To ensure California’s bright future, we need to create the best possible education system for our future generations.
After ending childhood hunger, part of California’s budget surplus should be spent towards additional funding for public schools. But we need to make sure that this funding prioritizes education in Black and Brown communities. Only 23.7% of black students and 36.1% of Latino students are prepared for college or postsecondary careers when they graduate. We need to ensure that all students receive an equitable education because disparities in college and career readiness set us all up for failure.
Our support shouldn’t end after graduation. High school graduates should be able to choose between vocational school, community college, or a four-year university without the immense burden that tuition is today. California needs more skilled workers, and providing a year of free job training will help grow a highly-skilled and well-paid workforce – made possible by a tax on billionaires.
If you agree that we need to end hunger and create an equitable school system now, please join our campaign along with San Francisco’s classroom teachers, City College faculty, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of teachers who are with us because they know I will be a champion for our students.
Prioritize Affordable Housing for Californians and Pass a 'Displacement Fee' for Wall Street Landlords
Wall Street speculators are thriving off the housing crisis as California residents are being displaced from their homes and communities.
Rising housing prices and the economic impact of the pandemic have enabled large investors to snatch single-family homes off the market and drastically alter the character of our neighborhoods. For example, in 2021, Wall Street speculators owned nearly $60 billion worth of homes across the country and have continued to expand at an alarming rate since.
Wall Street Speculators put outrageous profits before people – that is what they do. Here is what I think we should do – pass a “displacement fee” for Wall Street landlords. Speculators snatching homes should pay the cost of helping to re-house those they are displacing.
This displacement fee would also be used to develop affordable housing across our state. The people who cook our food, wash our dishes, clean our homes and offices, and take care of our kids should be able to find affordable housing in the communities where they work.
End Crushing Student Loan Debt
Student debt is crushing California. It doesn’t just hurt those who are in debt, it is hurting our entire economy and we must forgive it.
4 million Californians are burdened by student debt. They owe on average almost $40,000 and range from recent graduates, to parents trying to put food on the table to people nearing retirement who STILL are unable to pay off loans.
These student loan payments do not benefit Californians. Every dollar spent repaying student loans is siphoned away to predatory institutions far away when that dollar should go to paying for housing, providing for a child, or be spent locally on our small businesses.
College does not need to cost more than the average worker makes in a year and the exorbitant increases in college tuition are only allowed to continue because we have a system that allows 18 year olds to take on life-altering amounts of debt. This system punishes all but the wealthiest students, and thus worsens our state’s inequality.
Institute a Guaranteed Basic Income
Do you want to lower crime? Reduce the level of homelessness? Lower the poverty rate?
I do. That’s why I am a strong supporter of a Guaranteed Basic Income that would target a minimum payment of $1,000 per month to all low-income Californians to make sure they have a basic safety net.
This is no longer some wild idea. It has been tested in numerous states and cities – and the results are clear, this kind of minimum investment more than pays for itself.
By making sure low-income families have just a basic cushion they can use to make the rent – we will lower the rate of homelessness.
By making sure people have the few dollars it takes to print a resume, buy some interview cloths, fix their car so they can make it to an interview – we actually increase the level of employment (that’s what happened in Stockton when this was tested).
By reducing the driver of economic crimes – we will reduce our crime rate. (That’s what happened in Alaska with their form of a universal distribution of state oil revenues, crime went down when the disbursements went up).
This works – and it saves money in the long run. Because the rigorous science now backing Guaranteed Basic Income plans show it is actually much less expensive to lift people out of poverty than to pay to treat the many symptoms of poverty – from crime, to poor educational outcomes to homelessness.
Most Californians, working and not working, are worried about making sure their tax dollars are spent well. That’s why this is such an important moment to move Guaranteed Basic Income forward – it saves money while improving the lives of millions of Californians.
Save Lives with
Safe Injection Sites in Every County
The human tragedy of the Tenderloin was preventable – and we can save lives now by opening a medically-supervised safe injection site where drug treatment and counseling is also available.
But every single county in California should have a safe injection site – so we are taking care of the most vulnerable everywhere and so everyone is doing their fair share. In the State Assembly, that is exactly what I will work to do – make sure there is a safe injection center in every California county.
But that is just the beginning. If you have thought we should “follow the science” then you will agree that we should follow through on the most recent scientific recommendations that we treat addition for what it is – a disease.
We need to get people suffering from this disease in treatment, not jails. A new study just published in the prestigious scientific journal The Lancet makes exactly that recommendation.
By focusing on treating addiction – not criminalizing it – we will all be safer. First of all, we will save lives. But we will also be able to focus on serious and violent crimes more effectively.
This is just common sense – and the science strongly shows that we need to stop jailing addicts and start treating them. We need to take drug use off of our streets and into medically supervised and safe places in every county.
In this race for Assembly corporations and billionaires are spending over $1 million already to stop our surging grassroots campaign and elect their corporate-free candidate.
Because they know we are not afraid to do what’s right – starting with treating addiction as a disease, not a crime.
Charge Big Tech for Using OUR Data
Our data has immense value. But we give it away for free. Every time we click a link, or post about a friend’s birthday, we give tech companies essential information that advertisers pay big money for.
From October to December 2021, Facebook made $32.8 billion in advertising revenue. This $32.8 billion would not be possible without us – and our data.
But what would it look like if WE took control of our data?
Once elected to the state Assembly, I will propose that a percentage of the profit that tech companies make using our personal data be shared – with the state and the public.
These profits should go towards helping to close the massive digital divide in California, with nearly 40% of low-income students without reliable internet access in fall 2020.
In the minute it took you to read this, 277,777 stories were shared to Instagram, 400 new users created a Facebook page, Google handled 3.8 million searches and Facebook made $220,000 off of our data.
It’s time WE took control of our data instead of letting Big Tech make billions off of it at our expense.
Don't Let Billionaires Buy our Elections – It's Time for a "Truth Fee"
There is a reason we don’t have Medicare for All, a Green New Deal or a true Living Wage.
The billionaires and corporations keep buying our elections.
You see it in your mailbox and on your screens in this election for Assembly, with more than a million dollars already spent for the corporate candidates and attacking our grassroots campaign.
I am proud to be the only corporate-free candidate in the race for Assembly – and honored that such a broad range of community groups and leaders have joined our cause, including the Sierra Club, the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club, the BAR, Bay Guardian, California Nurses, classroom teachers, Mark Leno, Tom Ammiano and so many others.
But rejecting corporate contributions is only the beginning. We need to keep the corporations and billionaires from using “dark money” to buy our elections. In our campaign for Assembly, we are not accepting any corporate contributions and have accepted the voluntary overall spending limit.
But the corporations can spend any amount – and they are. Their slick ads are designed to look authentic, but an unlimited reservoir of corporate profits fund those ads and mailers with one goal in mind – keeping control of our politics.
We need bold ideas to break the stranglehold of unlimited corporate money – and here is mine.
In the Assembly, I will propose a “Truth Fee” be assessed on every dollar spent by outside groups trying to buy our elections. I would like to ban them outright, but at the moment, Supreme Court rulings make that impossible. But it is legal to impose reasonable rules and I propose we require 25 cents of every dollar spent by outside dark money groups and these so-called “Independent Expenditures” go into a fund to counter their lies. (I would propose more honestly, but we have to withstand a legal challenge, so this is real, not political rhetoric).
All of the funds would go to fact-checking and providing funds to respond to attacks – so the billionaires and corporations would no longer be able to buy our elections with impunity.
This is just one way to change California – but it is vital. We won’t win Medicare for All, a Green New Deal and a true living wage if the corporations and billionaires keep buying our elections.
We can’t stop their spending (at least with this Supreme Court). But we can counter their lies – and make them pay for it.