Issues

My family came to California in 1853 and flourished in the rough-and-tumble Gold Rush economy. I’m forever thankful for this state and I’m fully committed to a future as bright as our past. But we are so far removed from the freewheeling environment that attracted the dreamers of ’49. California could not have a Gold Rush today. Government would choke it off immediately, regulate and tax it out of existence.

Why is that the case?

I served in the legislature for many years and although I typically disagreed with the Democrat majority, I knew them personally and know they acted in good faith. But it’s time to step back and look at the effects of the policies coming out of Sacramento, not just their intentions.

Has California government made the state more affordable? Safer? More livable? Has it lifted up our most vulnerable? Has it provided the basic infrastructure we need at a reasonable price? For someone who loves this state, who is a father of six children who all live here and seven grandchildren (four born this year!), it breaks my heart to say the answer to those questions is, without a doubt, “NO.”

I want a “YES” California. A California where families can buy homes, take vacations, save for retirement and for their kids’ educations. Where we can all be safe, free, and prosperous. A state that is confident and plans and builds for the future. We have the most beautiful state in the union, and we should match it with the best government.

As Governor, I will be open to all ideas and committed to working with everyone sincere in their efforts to improve our state. Here are some ways I will restore the freedom and promise that made California an unrivaled destination for builders and creators from around the country and the world.

Proposition 13:

Before Proposition 13, property owners were subject to huge increases in their property taxes. Some elderly and other fixed-income homeowners couldn’t keep up with the increases and were forced to sell their homes. Family budgets were blown apart by massive and unpredictable tax increases.

I want stability for families and seniors so they can plan for the future. I don’t want a return to the days of property tax sticker shock that forced people out of their homes. That’s why Prop. 13 is so important.

I was an straight-A rated legislator by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and will defend and protect Proposition 13 and crush any attempts to increase property taxes.

Tax Increases:

Taxes are unavoidable, but we should strive to make them fair, simple, and as low as possible. I want to honor the hard work that goes into earning a living by guaranteeing that our workers and entrepreneurs keep as much of their earnings as feasible.

In Sacramento, it’s too easy to see every problem as not enough money and every solution as higher taxes. But we need to move beyond that tired model. It hasn’t worked well for our state. For too long, Californians have paid some of the highest taxes but gotten some of the worst services and results.

Before we even consider another tax increase, we need to exhaust other avenues to make government more efficient and responsive to taxpayer needs. We need to review all of our spending to make sure we aren’t forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for wasteful or frivolous programs. We need to look for low-cost solutions to our problems and remember that every dollar government spends is earned by – then taken from – a taxpayer. We need to treat every tax dollar with the greatest respect.

It’s for those reasons that I will oppose new taxes. Government growth has put a heavy burden on our families and I want to lighten that load. I will defeat all new tax increase efforts and push affordability so middle-class families are not priced out of our state.

Gas Tax:

For years we’ve been paying some of the highest gas taxes in the nation and have some of the worst roads. That’s a terrible bargain for taxpayers!

We have a chance to turn that around though, by altering some of the state’s labor and environmental rules to make road building here faster and more affordable. Our costs to build and maintain roads are way out of line with most other states, but that is a policy problem that can be addressed in Sacramento.

High gas taxes also punish our poorest Californians, who spend more of their incomes on necessities. They are hard on commuters who might not be able to simply pull up stakes and move closer to their work. They hurt rural Californians who might be driving 45 minutes to see their doctor or to get to a grocery store.

The gas tax is mercilessly regressive. That’s why I’ll repeal our highest-in-the-nation gas tax and use the state’s overflowing general fund to rebuild our once-great road system without crushing our working families.

Public Safety:

I want every Californian to feel safe in their homes. I want everyone to be excited for a family visit to San Francisco and our other great cities, not scared. We should all be able to leave belongings in our locked cars without fearing a smash-and-grab theft. That’s the minimum we want in a civil society. But right now, that means we need to have a firmer hand with those who would victimize their fellow Californians.

I’m sure most people have seen the viral videos of open, broad-daylight crime in our state. These brazen crimes tell me that some of our policies, even if they are well intentioned, are creating the wrong environment. One that tells criminals they can operate without consequence. That sentiment will rot a society quickly and it must be stopped.

That’s why step one to a safer California must be holding criminals accountable. I will overturn Prop. 47 to make our cities, neighborhoods, and businesses safer. I will always support law enforcement, who are risking their lives to protect us and our property. Instead of defunding police, I’ll strive for “re-funding the police,” so they have the tools, training, and personnel needed to enforce our laws. I won’t take guns away from law-abiding citizens while putting 70,000 felons back on our streets. I will never lose sight of the trauma suffered by victims and their families.

That will be a start. But I will also invest in reintegration and rehabilitation programs for released inmates so they can more easily re-enter society productively and have a lower likelihood of committing additional crimes.

Housing:

Did you know that adjusted for cost of living, California has the highest poverty rate in the nation? It’s like the old saying goes, “It’s not how much you make, it’s how much you keep.” Californians might make good nominal incomes but don’t have much left after paying for the basics. High income taxes, gas prices and energy prices definitely tell part of that story, but nothing drives our poverty more than astronomical housing prices. I want every family in our state to afford the American Dream of homeownership. That won’t happen with the median housing price around $800,000.

We need to build vastly more housing. The good news is, we can do it! Homebuilders obviously want to build more homes. Homebuyers are desperate for affordable homes. The building trades are happy to have work that sustains their members and supports families. We just need to give them a helping hand.

One important step we can take is to lower the cost of construction. We might not be able to change the cost of lumber but government can act to remove some of the cost drivers it’s forced onto housing in past years. As Governor, I will slash costly regulations and cap fees that push housing prices out of reach for young families. I will unleash a building boom that promotes housing affordability.

I want people to know that they can build a future in this state without spending half of their incomes on housing.

Homelessness:

If you live in any city in California, it’s obvious that homelessness is growing unchecked right now. Tent cities are lining entire city blocks and areas such as Los Angeles’ Skid Row are much larger than that.

This issue is one of the most challenging for our state. Many of the homeless are not simply lacking housing but have mental health or substance abuse issues. We’ve seen and heard of seemingly random, violent attacks from transients on others around the state. Ending homelessness is not just a question of putting a roof over someone’s head – there are other problems that must be addressed to ensure long-term improvements in their lives and in our public spaces.

I’ve come to believe that an entirely voluntary approach is a failure. For many homeless, coercion will be necessary to get them help and integrated back into society and living the lives that they deserve.

Our current homeless crisis, with tens of thousands living without shelter, without medical treatment, without mental health services, is inhumane. To look at the streets of San Francisco or Los Angeles is to know that merely inviting this population to use these services, is inadequate.

I will ensure homeless get off streets through humane, mandatory treatment.

Energy:

Let’s be an ambitious state! It is frustrating when state government pleads with Californians to limit their energy use during heat waves. Instead, we should be building a power system that meets our needs even when they spike, as they do every single summer.

And we can make it affordable, too. Our residential electricity rates have risen dramatically as we’ve worked to integrate more renewable energy into our power grid. Even if that is a worthy goal, it should not be our only goal. We need to be cost-competitive with other states so our energy-intensive businesses will stay home and provide jobs right here. We need relief to families who are paying more and more of their budgets for this basic good.

I will support reliable, affordable, and abundant energy so we don’t suffer blackouts and create energy poverty.

Immigration and Border Security:

In my years of meeting with constituents up and down the state, I have rarely been as inspired as when I have visited with immigrants and heard their stories. Just this year I met with a man whose family had lost everything in his home country, who fled on a boat that was adrift at sea for days before being rescued and finally making his way to America, then California, as a refugee. He and his family had nothing. They crammed into a studio apartment and started picking up paper and other recyclable material off the street for extra money. Decades later, he owns a massive recycling company and is wealthy man. Only in America!

God bless him and his family for their work and success.

California is home to more immigrants than any other state and Silicon Valley is brimming with the world’s technology talent. We have thousands and thousands of success stories here and I look forward to many more in the future.

But our immigration system has problems that we must address. Our border is in crisis and not enough is being done federally to control who enters our country. Illegal drugs such as Fentanyl flow freely across the border and ruin lives as they fall into the hands of users. Policy should decide who and what enters the United States, not a lack of enforcement. I will authorize all available state resources to the border to aid the federal government in border control.

I welcome all immigrants who come here legally, but as Governor, I will end Sanctuary Cities and deport dangerous criminals here illegally.

Wildfires:

My former Senate District and current Board of Equalization District are home to some of California’s most beautiful forests and rugged terrains. That’s a rough combination for wildfires, though, and the state must do more to thin out our forests in select areas to help protect life and property. I’ve seen firsthand the devastation these wildfires leave behind, met with people who’ve lost loved ones, talked to families who don’t know how they will rebuild their homes and their lives. Wildfire trauma lasts far beyond the flames themselves.

This is not a problem that will be solved quickly, even with the best policies and implementation. There are simply too many acres that need to be treated, but I will make massive forest thinning and improved management a top priority to prevent damaging wildfires. I will make it a top priority to harden the wildland-urban interface to protect homes and provide the most safety for our efforts. I will also reward homeowners who create adequate defensible space around their homes.

Vehicle Registration:

This may not be the biggest issue facing the state, but it’s got great symbolic importance and changing it would make a practical difference in our lives, as well. I have talked to people who have moved out of state or are planning on moving out of state, and the cost of car registration comes up all the time! The feeling is that it’s another area where California government gouges citizens. I agree. There is no reason why this state, sitting on a massive surplus in our general fund, can’t lower car registration fees. When you add registration to our ultra-expensive gas prices, Californians could be paying thousands more a year than people in other states to drive the exact same cars!

I have spent my career trying to get more money back into taxpayer pockets. Sometimes it’s not one big cost that’s the burden, but many smaller costs that add up. This is a great example of a smaller area where better policy could help create a more affordable California.

I will lower car registration to $40 every-other-year on all vehicles while fully funding public safety.

Voting:

I’ve been through many elections and I’m thankful that I’ve had volunteers reviewing ballots, monitoring county procedures, to ensure that the ballots counted in my races met all legal requirements. We are so blessed to live in a democratic republic where our votes have meaning. Our favored candidates might not always win but it’s good to know that the system works fairly.

I want reasonable safeguards to protect that tradition of fair and free elections, for everyone in California. We should be fanatical about our voter rolls, ensuring they are up to date before every election. Voting should require a valid ID – provided at no cost to the voter – so that poll workers can ensure no fraudulent votes are cast.

We all win when we have faith in our elections.

I will ensure election integrity and require Voter ID to prevent fraud.

Water:

I talked earlier about a “YES” California, a state that tackles problems and isn’t afraid to act. That’s the mindset we need for new water storage. We haven’t built a new state water project facility since 1978, when the state had a population of around 20 million. Now we have around 40 million! Conservation is great and we are more effective with our water than we were then, but conservation can only be part of a solution. We need to build more water storage now to meet current needs and growth in the future.

When I was in the legislature, I successfully fought to get more than $3 billion for new water storage into our state water bond. But the projects identified in that bill, notably Sites Reservoir, have not gotten the bond money they need to finish construction.

Droughts are natural, but water shortages aren’t. Adequate water storage lets us bank water in wet years to use in dry years. Wouldn’t it be nice to have Sites Reservoir available to meet our needs this summer, when the state is asking us to cut back our water use?

We should say “YES!” to building more dams, freeways, airports, bridges and on and on down the line, so we leave a legacy of useful, first-class infrastructure for generations to come.

I will fight for new water storage such as Sites Reservoir so suburban families can water the lawns where their kids play, and farmers can have every drop they need.

High-Speed Rail:

This one is simple: I will kill the wasteful high-speed rail project and redirect funds to our roads.

With our high-speed rail, never before have so many, paid so much, for so little. This project failed every test of good governance when it passed out of the legislature to the ballot and has only gotten worse from there.

Almost all trips in California are taken in automobiles on roads. Let’s build the world’s best road and freeway system to meet the actual needs of California travelers.

California:

Let’s work together, Democrat and Republican, young and old, men and women, every race, every creed, to make the Golden State once again the envy of the nation and world. Our future is bright!