In 2021, US News and World Report ranked California at #40 for K-12 education. We have the largest school system in the nation with over 6 million students in public schools, almost 650,000 students in private schools, and over 6,000 students in college prep/boarding schools. In our public school system we have a student-to-teacher ratio of 23:1. The national average is 16:1 and the top 10 states on the list have ratios between 17:1 to 12:1. Many consider that undocumented students are a major impact to our K-12 educational system but it is estimated that only 72,000, or 1.2% of students in 2021 were undocumented. The problem is we do not have enough teachers. For California, this should be our top educational priority. We should be seeking more support from the Federal level to add teachers and to reinstitute art and music programs.
As a nation, we have supported our veterans in many ways. As the only veteran in this race, I can attest to some of the benefits I have received, and continue to receive. Two of my biggest issues concerning veterans are Mission 22 and the VA health system. Mission 22 brings awareness to the approximately 22 veterans who commit suicide a day. According to the VA, between 2001and 2019, 80,000+ veterans committed suicide in California. over 42% were with firearms. Within the military there is a stigma with seeking mental health assistance. For many vets, this carries over into their civilian lives. Instead of thanking our vets for their service, we need to start asking how we can help them with the demons that many vets carry, especially those who have experienced war. In that respect, we are all paying for a government health care system. The VA health system has its problems. Before we talk about universal health care, or government sponsored health care, we need to show that the government can efficiently and effectively run a health care system. Let's start with the VA because we are already paying for it.
Our national debt is a continuing plague on the economics of efficient governing. Our current debt is over $30 trillion. The interest on this debt if over $400 billion. As our government continues to spend beyond its means (deficit spending), and not doing a better job of managing this debt, we are truly leaving a mess for future generations. We cannot continue to lower taxes and expect to fix this major problem. The facts are that democratic administrations have dealt better with deficit spending and debt than past republican administrations. The reality is we are in this together and unless we change our revenue streams, we will continue to dig ourselves into a bigger hole..
According to the IRS, in 2020 over 240 million people filed personal income taxes bringing into the government, after refunds, $2.8 trillion. Between personal and corporate income tax, this accounted for 93% of government revenue for these 2 categories. Republicans favor lowering taxes, I favor lowering taxes, but the reality is that the short term gains of lowering taxes have an overall negative effect to the long term health of our economy. I would like to look into a tiered, flat-rate, personal income tax system where taxes are divided into 5 tiers, each accounting for 20% of income taxes filed. The lowest earners tax rate would be 10% ($6.2k/yr), followed by 15% ($9.4k/yr), 20% ($12.5k/yr), 25% ($15.6k/yr), and 30% ($18.7k/yr) for highest 20% of earners. I would like to see the elimination of tax loopholes and that all earners, no matter status, pay personaly into the system. Annual revenue would be set at a specific amount, for example $3 trillion, and any revenue above that would be returned to tax payers in pro rata shares. This would be done in conjunction with increases in corporate taxes.
In the same period discussed above, 1.8 million corporations submitted income taxes and contributed $1.5 billion in government revenue. This accounted for 7% of revenue for the 2 categories. The Fortune 1,000 corporations made revenues of approximately $15 trillion and took in profits of approximately $1 trillion. Corporations argue they create jobs and taxes will kill those jobs. Corporations are in business to enrich their shareholders. Their business is driven by supply and demand. Their effect to society is not to the business alone but its impact on the communities they serve, the services they obtain and the infrastructure used as a whole. It is time for corporations to contribute financially to government revenues. I would propose corporate taxes account for 30% ($900 billion) to 50% ($1.5 trillion) in relation to personal taxes paid. If the Fortune 1,000 paid 15% of their profits in taxes, the average for the remaining 1.8+ million corporations would be $750,000.
Increasing tax revenues is not a free ride for increased government spending. Tax changes would also require a balanced budget amendment with caps on spending. I also believe, as presidents from both parties have requested, that we approve line-item veto authority.
I believe there is a "go big, or go home" opportunity in the inland empire and imperial valley that, using infrastructure investments, will create higher paying jobs than the influx of fulfillment centers and the barely above minimum wage jobs they provide. In addition, this opportunity would address multiple issues important to our district and Southern California. The Salton Sea is a potential resource that is slowly fading away and the current use of this resource is to mine for lithium. Mining, in general, never ends well and while somebody profits from it, in the end it is the community that pays the price for the destruction left behind. We can do better. By building pipelines from the ocean we can replenish the Salton Sea. Building a desalination plant, we can produce water to feed our dwindling supply. Delivery pipelines would supply Lake Elsinore, Lake Perris, and Lake Matthews. Additional delivery can be made into the Prado dam basin to help replenish the aquafer. More water will be available for the expected increase in forest fires. It will also lessen the demand on water from the Colorado river that could be better utilized in central California for farming. The area around the Salton Sea also has space for renewable energy to provide power to the project. The major issue this raises is brine. Desalination plants near the ocean dump brine back into the sea, damaging the aquatic environment. The area can become the hub on research in brine conversion and usage for such applications as farming and above ground brine-to-lithium conversion. Over time, the high levels of salt in the Salton Sea will be diluted to where it is equal to normal ocean levels. This will bring tourism and growth as a recreational haven back to the area. This solves multiple problems, creates jobs, and provides for a long-term positive outlook for an area that has been given up on. This is an example of where I would like to see infrastructure dollars brought into our area. The benefits out-weigh investments in project such as bullet trains.
New threats, both foreign and domestic, are taxing our intelligence collection capabilities but we talk more about the need to increase our military power. In 2020, we spent 3x more than China, 11x more than India, and 13x more than Russia; the next top 3 nations. Warfare has changed and we face asymmetrical challenges. Increasing our assets, such as aircraft carriers, has no effect with an asymmetical threat such as we experienced on 9/11. Nor will increasing the size of our services have great effect on domestic threats where our police forces and National Guard will be involved. Better intelligence gathering and information dissemination is what will give us the advantage for future threats. I whole-heartedly believe we need to keep some programs going to maintain our industrial base. We need to focus attention on current systems and their maintenance and upkeep, than making large investments in technologies that are failing us with cost overruns and delays in getting new, untested hardware to the warfighter. A current example would be Boeing's KC-46 Pegasus aerial tanker. A program plagued from the beginning of the proposal process in 2001. With the delivery in mid-2020 of the first aircraft, by early 2021 the Air Force had 42 planes that were placed into limited operational use. This was four years after its planned introduction. Full combat readiness is not expected until 2023. All of this on a system where the airframe, 767, existed and were being converted to tankers. It was not a ground up build. We need to spend our national security dollars better.
Comprehensive immigration reform is one of the biggest, if not biggest, issue that has evaded bipartisan support for decades. With the complexity of this issue, I have no solutions other than working in small steps to move forward. I do know that instilling fear (MS-13 armies are amassing across the border to invade) or invoking lies (Mexico will pay for the wall) are not going to solve the problem Such statements are made for the sole reason of creating a bogeyman to inflame anger and solicit votes. We open our borders to Ukrainians evading the war in their country, but shut the door on immigrants from countries like Venezuela who are trying to escape real MS-13 armies, or Mexicans trying to escape territories controlled by drug cartels (remember our war on drugs?). This is one of those areas where empathy towards those who support either side is important. If we cannot discuss the discrepancy between these approaches, we will never solve this issue.
Over 10 years ago Forbes writer Ralph Benko wrote an article about ending the Welfare/Warfare state. A major point of the article, that is spot on, is that based on political party control, we shift between a welfare state (Democrats) and a warfare state (Republicans). When it comes to jobs, a warfare state is a preferred outcome. However, where Southern California was once a dominant player, it no longer has the presence of defense contractors or military bases that it once had. Our region no longer benefits from the warfare state as it once did. To get away from the expectations that warehouse and logistics are the solutions, we need to think more of the welfare side of the coin. Infrastructure is our best option. We need to build our infrastructure in the Inland Empire to attract business. We have the talent, a drive on the 91 and 15 freeways on any weekday will show you that talent driving out of the Inland Empire for work. Pharmaceutical companies are thriving in counties around us, why are we missing this opportunity? We see housing and high-density development happening all over the Inland Empire to provide affordable living for the wages many of us get from our OC, LA, and San Diego county jobs. California is one of ten states that get back equal or less than one dollar for every dollar paid in taxes yet Californians provide the most money of any state to the Federal budget (15%). It is time we adjust this trend and get the federal government to invest more back into California, especially the Southern California region.
A little more about the givers/takers mentioned in jobs. People are leaving California for many reasons. One key one is taxes. They are moving to states where there are perceived tax advantages. In some respects, this is true. Property taxes are lower in states such as Texas, Florida, and Idaho. However, each of these states are takers of Federal taxes. For every dollar they give, they receive $1.20, $1.15, and $1.75 respectively. In essence, these are welfare states benefiting from the redistribution of wealth from those 10 states who receive less than $1 given. If this was an apples-to-apples comparison with states getting back what they put in, things would be much different.
Over one year after the last federal election, there are many state legislatures still fighting to overturn the last election; rewriting their state laws to be able to overturn future elections; making it harder to vote for many people; or continuing to gerrymander their districts to favor their candidates. It is time to nationalize election standards to include redistricting standards and ensuring that each person's vote counts. It is time to get rid of the electoral college. Its purpose is no longer needed. Each state has equal and fair representation through their elected members of congress. Implementing a national six-sigma standard to account for voting irregularities. That would be 3.8 out of every one million votes. Only when proven voting deviations outside of this standard occur, can be documented can challenges for fraud be made and redress be requested from the courts.
Over the last 10 years, the Supreme Court has become overly politicized. From Mitch McConnell holding up Garland's nomination, to the fast-tracking of Barrett, to the comparison of the Kavanaugh and Jackson confirmation hearings, to senators now being said they were lied to both in private meeting and during hearings. Life-long appointments to the federal bench were meant to prevent the politicization of courts. I believe this still holds true at the district and appellate levels. I believe life-long appointments to the Supreme Court need to end. The highest court in the land has been politicized, some might even argue weaponized, for the benefit of a loud, but minority point of view. To better represent the nation over time, the court also needs to change over time. I believe Supreme Court term limits need to be implemented.