Monday, May 9, 2016

Q&A – San Luis Obispo Tribune and Steve LeBard Candidate for State Assembly District 35

1. Has the state of California been a good steward of our tax dollars? If not, please point to one or two specific expenditures of the past few years that you found unnecessary.

California’s budget for health care is massive.  Health insurance is going to continue to escalate. Health care benefits and pensions for the public sector are totally out of sync with the private sector.  We need to take a hard look at how health care is administered. Computers will play a role in the automation of modern health care, bringing down costs. The private sector is the economic generator. The health of small business – the backbone of the economy – must be a priority. Health care costs are killing small businesses.

2. How can the Legislature best ensure California has a dependable water supply?

Desalination - the Pacific Ocean covers one third of the world’s surface. Currently desal water costs twice as much to produce as state water but that will change with emerging desal technology with the rise in demand for state water. California is the 8th largest economy in the world, and we need a dependable water supply to remain there. Unlike high speed rail, water is used every day by every Californian.

3. If the state does take over management of the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin, what should basin property owners expect?

The basin has a finite supply of water, the demand has continually risen, the basin is in overdraft and must be supplemented, especially in drought cycles, where usage far outweighs rainfall. With 26,000 acres of vineyards planted, by my calculations, vineyard water usage on a hot summer day equals a supply of water needed to sustain 885,000 families.

Although I’m not in favor of water well meters, you have to have some means of determining water usage to determine who’s going to pay for the supplemental water needed to protect the health of the basin.  This is one of those unfortunate situations where the community has not been able to manage the use of the resource and the government has to step in.

Pumping state water “horizontally” if far more efficient, than pumping water “vertically” from deeper wells.  Earthen dams in our rivers could assist ground water recharge. Grapevine root zone watering and drought resistant rootstock could save significant amounts of water, considering the acreage planted.

4. Do you support relicensing Diablo Canyon? Should PG&E decided not to seek a license extension, what role, if any, should the state play in aiding the economic recovery of San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara counties?

I support re-licensing Diablo Canyon if all the safety issues are satisfied, including seismic concerns. Diablo Canyon has been producing seven percent of California’s electricity to the benefit of everyone and the state should certainly play a role in the economic recovery of our district.  I think we should be looking at a new marina, possibly combined with a major desalination plant, somewhere along the district’s coastline.

California will spend 68 billion dollars plus on high speed rail, it will end up being subsidized and it will not benefit our district. We need to make sure our roadways meet the needs of the future. Developing battery technology will revolutionize the automobile industry, perhaps even before the high speed rail comes online.

Airlines are more competitive than high speed rail – think Amtrak vs. American, Delta, United, Southwest – our needs for air travel/airports will continue to rise on the central coast.

5. San Luis Obispo County is among the areas of California where high housing costs are making it difficult to attract new businesses and employees. Is there something more that can be done at the state level to encourage construction of lower-cost housing?

I’m an advocate for tiny houses.  The permitting process for these homes should be streamlined, with a cap put on permitting fees. The legislative body should encourage the use of tiny houses and reward the builders that design innovative features into these homes such as the use of solar, led, composting toilets, smart devices and recycled materials. This encouragement of ingenuity could resonate into mainstream housing.

While not for everyone, students, grandmas and young people seem to be drawn to tiny houses because of their practicality and affordability. Tiny houses also brings back the American Dream of being able to build your own home - a dream that has turned into a nightmare for many because of the horrendous regulations, fees and long permit processing times.

6. Aside from those issues we've already discussed, what do you see as the most pressing problem in this district, and what is your solution?

Our Assembly District is overwhelmed with illegal immigration.  This escalation of illegal immigration has evolved over decades as the demand for cheap labor has risen. We are footing the bill for their health care, education, law enforcement, social and government services. Neighborhoods are turning into ghettos and gang violence is out of control.  Our pockets are being picked by some illegal immigrants that come here knowing full well how to work the system, even defrauding the IRS by claiming dependents that don’t live in the U.S. or don’t exist at all.

Many of the products produced locally, utilizing cheap labor, are consumed in other counties, states and countries, yet we, the taxpayer, pay to subsidize those products. The reality is the big producers are using cheap labor at our expense. This is unfair to each and every one of us. Products produced here and consumed outside of our district need the consumer of those products to subsidize our community’s burden. And it’s not just the money; it’s impacting our quality of life in so many other ways.

We must embrace the immigrants that want to become patriotic Americans and design a system that monitors the migrant labor force, keeping it safe and accountable. It is our duty to elevate immigrants to American standards, not lower ourselves to third world conditions.

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