Working people built California's economy into the fifth largest in the world. I will lead efforts to shape that economy in order that all Californians can share in our prosperity:
- Reform Prop 13 to close corporate property tax loopholes.
- Raise taxes on corporate profits, millionaires, and housing speculators to fund strong public programs for all.
- Support local public banking and worker-owned business development.
- Ensure public access to, and privacy on, the Internet by regulating web providers as public utilities.
- Advocate a Million Jobs Program with public funding for high-need care work and Green New Deal jobs with living wages, strong benefits, unions, and career training.
Working people have built California into the fifth largest economy in the world but our wealth is distributed ever more unequally. The federal government feeds this inequality with giveaways to the wealthiest few, while social programs that benefit us all are being starved. California should lead the way in developing a just economy with fair taxes on corporations and the wealthy to support excellent public programs, high-quality jobs, and shared prosperity. On the Richmond City Council, I proudly led the successful effort to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, gain new tax revenue from Chevron, and bring good new jobs to the Port. From experience, I know how to assemble a progressive governing coalition to build a just economy.
Raise Taxes on Corporations, Millionaires, and Housing Speculators
I will strongly support reforms to close the corporate tax loopholes in Proposition 13. This law, passed in 1978, has disproportionately benefited large, long-time commercial landowners by exempting their commercial holdings from property tax revaluations until they are sold. Huge corporations that have not moved (such as oil refineries) now pay tiny property taxes compared to their vastly increased property values.
Before Prop.13, residential property taxes were 55% of collected property taxes, while commercial taxes were 45%. Residential owners now pay 72% of total property taxes, while commercial enterprises only pay 28%. California needs fair funding of its public programs. Our huge corporations benefit from our education and health systems and should pay their fair share. We need to close the corporate loophole in Prop. 13 and update assessments for commercial property.
Speculative housing transactions should be taxed higher than purchases for homes to be occupied by their owners. We can help limit runaway housing speculation by implementing a housing speculation tax on non-owner-occupied housing. A vacancy tax, already under consideration in many cities, could motivate large landlords to provide housing immediately rather than to hold properties vacant to drive up prices. A progressive property tax and luxury sales tax on homes above $2 million could help fund affordable housing for all and would re-orient new construction and renovation toward affordable housing.
Huge corporations and millionaires increasingly avoid paying to support our society through tax shelters and tax cuts from Washington. On the Richmond City Council, I helped hold Chevron accountable for its fair share in taxes, gaining $100 million in new revenue for our city. I know how to use legislation and public leverage to prevent evasion of public responsibility even when up against the biggest corporation in town.
To ensure a just economy I support an expanded state-level corporate profits tax, a millionaires' income tax, and a millionaires' inheritance tax. We need fair, progressive taxation as a foundation for the excellent education, healthcare and other public programs on which to build a prosperous California economy for all.
Support Economic Democracy
I advocate state laws that support formation of worker-owned businesses. As thousands of small business owners retire over the coming decade, corporate takeovers could outsource and automate countless jobs in our state. We should ensure public support for workers to buy and develop the businesses they operate. I support a "right-to-own" law, which would give employees the first opportunity to buy, at a fair price, when an owner sells a business. Our state business advisory offices should provide consulting and financing aid to business owners and workers to support transitions to worker-owned businesses.
A Medicare for All health system will vastly reduce stress on families and individuals during job transitions and increase workers' mobility between jobs. This will also reduce costs to employers who face exploding private health insurance costs. This would in turn free up resources for higher wages and other employee benefits.
To ensure a just economy, workers must be able to organize. As a longtime union member and mental health professional for Contra Costa County, I strongly support collective bargaining for workers in both public and private sectors (i.e. teachers, classified employees, professors, and early childhood educators). I will fight against efforts to constrain union recruitment, organization, and representation.
Each year, more of us become alarmed by huge corporations' dominance of the Internet, invasion of individual privacy, and exploitation of personal data. I support regulating the Internet as a public utility to ensure access, prevent for-profit manipulation of users, and limit corporate control of our lives.
I will press for state support and legal reform to encourage creation of public banking institutions. Cities across the Bay Area are leading the development of local public banks that would reduce the dominance of the huge banks, make financial institutions responsive to local conditions and needs, and help to finance the locally-needed investments that commercial banks avoid.
The Million Jobs Program for California
Our state has enormous work to do to protect and restore the environment, renew and expand infrastructure, rationalize and improve healthcare, and improve educational quality and access. These efforts represent huge opportunities for good jobs. If elected, I will advocate a Million Jobs Program to provide state funding for living wage jobs with benefits, good training, and unions.
Even in our current economy, California has nearly one million unemployed people seeking work, even without counting our long-term unemployed. New public jobs can focus on two key areas of public need: 1) Green New Deal jobs, for environmental restoration, natural disaster prevention, clean energy, and transit and housing infrastructure; and 2) Public Care jobs, for health aides, school aides, social workers, and public health workers. Local governments and state agencies would be invited to make proposals for these public jobs to meet local needs.
For many people long excluded from the job market, losing their jobs to industry changes, or just leaving school, the Million Jobs Program can provide a pipeline into union careers in industries where we have a strong need for skilled workers such as healthcare, education, clean energy, and construction. This public option for employment, by providing a wide range of living wage public jobs, will raise the floor for all wages and benefits, helping workers public and private. Developing this Million Jobs Program will take serious effort and input from labor and community leaders across the state, and I will be a dedicated facilitator and champion to make this vision a reality.