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John Campbell

John Campbell (R-Irvine) is an Assemblyman representing the 70th District in Orange County. Mr. Campbell is the Vice-Chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee. He is the only CPA in the California State legislature and recently received a national award as Freshman Republican Legislator of the Year. He represents the cities of Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Tustin, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Woods and Lake Forest. He can be reached through his Assembly website and through the website for his California Senate campaign. [go to Campbell index]

Favorite State Crises
Something to look forward to after the electionů

[John Campbell] 11/2/04

Obviously all eyes right now are focused on the election. But Tuesday, November 2nd will come and go. Victory parties will be held. Concession speeches will be made. And then the business of governing will begin anew. Thankfully, due to a bill by Senator Ross Johnson that was signed by the Governor, the primary election in 2006 has been pushed back to the first Tuesday in June, rather than the March primaries we have had since 1996. So, after 3 straight years with at least one statewide election (because of the recall), it appears we will have a full 19 months without an election.  So, when we get back to the work of governing, what will be the big issues? What are the proposals and crises that will bubble to the front pages over the next year or so? Here are some of them:

Budget: The budget crisis is not over, but we've taken positive steps under Governor Schwarzenegger's leadership. This next fiscal year beginning July 1, 2005, could be amongst the most contentious yet with the usual battle between those who want tax increases and those who prefer to not increase spending. On the positive side, the governor has a year of budget negotiation experience and there will also be major structural proposals to restrain future spending to prevent deficits. With some hard work on the coming year's budget and positive economic conditions, we can correct the years' worth of damage done under Gray Davis' helm by the '06/'07 budget.

Economy: This is inextricably tied to the budget because economic prosperity generates tax revenue. Job growth in California has been slow, but it has turned the corner from 9/11 and the high-tech bust and is beginning to grow at a quicker pace. Unfortunately, some of the propositions, if passed, could stymie our recent employment gains and could potentially bring more job losses. California clearly still has a ways to go to restore its luster as a place to build companies and jobs, but I believe we are heading down the right track.

Energy: As I have said many times, the energy crisis of 2001 is far from over, because the legislature never enacted a long-term solution. Your electric rates are still the highest in the country and a hot summer in 2005 will likely bring blackouts again. Fortunately, major energy reforms will be undertaken that will create a competitive marketplace for energy for large businesses, to encourage and reward more solar, hydrogen and other renewable and homegrown energy generation and to give more regulatory certainty to those wishing to develop or distribute energy in California. When these reforms are complete, I believe California's consumer will get cheaper, greener, more reliable power.

Public Employee Pensions: You have heard about big companies who have underfunded pension plans. Well, the same thing has been happening in state and local government and finally the issue has hit the mainstream media. Over the last five years, politically powerful unions have achieved some of the most lucrative pension benefits in the country. These same unions have driven down investment returns to fund these pensions as they have taken to "politically correct" investing and rewarding union-friendly cronies. If nothing changes we will have huge pension liabilities that will be unfunded in the future unless the taxpayers (whose pensions aren't nearly as generous) dip into their own pockets to pay for government union employee's ever higher benefits. I don't want to do that. I don't think you do either. Stay tuned. There are rumblings of potential reforms.

Housing/Transportation: As the average house price in Orange County surges over $500,000, those of us who already own here may feel good. But if you are a first time buyer or trying to move in, affordability is a huge issue. And this is not an issue just of housing for the poor, it is an issue of housing for the middle class. If you choose to live someplace where housing is cheaper, you may have a long commute to work, thereby straining both family time and our transportation infrastructure. So, whether we are looking for housing the average person can afford close to work, or a way to get to work quicker, the joined issues of housing and transportation are bubbling to the surface.

Political Reform: How will the next redistricting be done? By us in the legislature trying to draw ourselves districts we like? Or by an independent system? The discussions will commence. Currently, there are reform efforts being discussed and I'm optimistic the efforts will gain steam.

Education/Water: No, These two issues are not connected, except by the fact that both have big problems which are not being addressed. As is often the case in Sacramento, it may take a water shortage severe enough to cause rationing or the collapse of the education bureaucracy under its own weight before we deal with either.

This list is not exhaustive. So, if I left out your favorite crisis, do not despair. I'm sure it will come up eventually. Over the next couple of months, I will expand on solutions to and proposals for all of these issues I listed. Until then, enjoy the election. CRO



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