Questions for Annie

Annie Oliva – She Speaks for Us

As I’ve traveled around our state senate district, I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with voters about their questions and concerns for the future. It has been an extraordinary experience and reinforced my commitment to be a strong voice for our community in Sacramento.

Here are some of the questions I’ve been asked on the campaign trail and my answers.

- Annie Oliva

I’m a mom – a city councilwoman – a small business owner – and a housing advocate who helps people find affordable homes. I understand the crisis of astronomical housing prices. I don’t think you should need an IPO to afford a home. I don’t think it should take hours and hours stuck in traffic to get to work. I don’t think we can keep the California Dream alive – unless it is open to everyone – and that includes housing that is affordable.

I am running for three reasons –
One – because I simply will not tolerate the status quo on homelessness. We need solutions. There are proven solutions like the right to shelter paired with the requirement to shelter. We need the courage to implement them.

Two – because housing is a crisis – and the politicians use the word crisis – but their solutions are tepid if not insulting. We need more housing near better transit. That’s the solution. What we don’t need to do is destroy or drastically alter every single-family neighborhood in this district.

And finally – because partisanship is tearing this country apart – and I think we can and must find common ground. We have one faction trying to make government bigger. We have another faction trying to make government smaller. I think most of us want to start by making government better – and that is what I will do.

My top priorities in the state senate will be creating more housing near transit, reducing homelessness and holding state government accountable.

Invest in mental health, drug treatment, supportive housing and affordable housing. Build basic shelter – and require people on the street to use that shelter when it is available. When people are so sick with mental health conditions or are so deep in the throes of addiction they can’t cope – require treatment intervention until they are well (with a judge’s approval). We know the answers – we are just not delivering.

Please read my 7-Point Plan on Homelessness, Mental health and Substance Abuse

As I said, we need more housing. I am running for office in large part to bring my expertise and passion in this area to Sacramento so we can build more housing while simultaneously creating the infrastructure that supports new housing.

SB 50 is a one-size fits all mandate from Sacramento that is not applied fairly and doesn’t address fully the need for new transit.

We need to require new housing – but it needs to be everywhere it is needed. I was deeply disappointed, for example, to see Marin County exempted. Everyone needs to do their part — and the solution needs to be tied to more transit to support the new housing.

So no – I do not support SB50.

I support protecting tenants in the most effective way possible – and that is not state-
mandated rent control.

I am running for office in large part to help address our serious housing crisis. And we need real solutions – starting with millions more homes and the basic infrastructure, like better transit, to support those homes. The solution to a scarcity of homes is more homes.

Unwise rent control is basically a form of rationing – and study after study says it backfires in numerous ways. First, it takes units off the market. It means fewer new units are built. And it locks people into homes – so you have cases where high-wage doctors, lawyers and computer programmers are in rent-controlled units and teachers, nurses, and janitors can’t find any place to live.

If it worked – I could see supporting it. But it just doesn’t work.

I support closing the loopholes in Prop. 13 that are being used by large corporations to avoid reassessment when properties are sold or transferred.

I do not support the so-called split roll proposal. It is a massive tax increase – and rest assured, we will all pay the price. We should focus on raising revenues by growing our economy and creating middle-class jobs. And we should also focus on continued improvements in government efficiency – so we can deliver more services for each dollar. Now is not the time to be raising taxes.

I support a public option that would allow any Californian who wants the ability to buy into our state’s MediCal system to do so. If single payer works – it will work in the marketplace and it will grow, become more efficient and be chosen by families and companies as the health care system of choice.

I support the option and choice – not a mandate from Sacramento.

I do. I know this is a divisive issue for some. But for me – I think health care is a human right and we need to value that right. I do believe it is less expensive in the long-run to keep people healthy than it is to allow them to get and stay sick – because our emergency rooms don’t turn undocumented immigrants away. And finally, as I have said, I have seen my own husband and his family live this.

People are not coming here to get health care – they are coming to flee oppression or poverty. We need comprehensive immigration reform – and we need to keep working to invest in peace and prosperity in Central America and elsewhere.

A state takeover of PG&E would not be my first choice of action. I think we have our hands pretty full addressing housing, homelessness, climate change, economic inequality, traffic gridlock and other very important issues. But when it comes to PG&E, we need to put everything on the table.

PG&E needs to prove it can operate safely before we take any action. And that just has not happened yet by my estimation. I am not going to support any change to existing laws that affect PG&E until I see that company has changed its safety culture completely.

We need to link the Central Valley to Silicon Valley – and that should be that start of high-speed rail, not Bakersfield to Merced. The plan is not complete and I don’t support it. The Governor has said he is working on that key leg – the leg to Diridon Station in San Jose. And I await that plan before I would give my support.

I do not believe that now is the time to be raising taxes. I think the best way to raise revenue is to grow the economy and create more good-paying middle-class jobs.

I support high-quality traditional public charters, which have an important role to play as places where we can innovate in education. Particularly in very low-income communities, charters are sometimes the only alternative parents have for their kids. I do not support for-profit charter schools. Additionally, we need to hold charter schools to the highest standards and not be afraid to revoke charters if those schools are failing.

Our goal is to lift up every kid and every school – whether a traditional public school or a public charter. And we need to do a better job of getting those two parts of our public education system to learn from each other. Charters are not the only answer, but they are one part of the answer when it comes to improving our schools.

I support protecting tenants in the most effective way possible – and that is not state-mandated rent control.

I am running for office in large part to help address our serious housing crisis. And we need real solutions – starting with millions more homes and the basic infrastructure like better transit to support those homes. The solution to a scarcity of homes is more homes.

Would you support eliminating single-family zoning in California?

Unwise rent control is basically a form of rationing – and study after study says it backfires in numerous ways. First, it takes units off the market. It means fewer new units are built. And it locks people into homes – so you have cases where high-wage doctors, lawyers and computer programmers are in rent-controlled units and teachers, nurses, and janitors can’t find any place to live.

If it worked – I could see supporting it. But it just doesn’t work.

Our goal is to lift up every kid and every school – whether a traditional public school or a public charter. And we need to do a better job of getting those two parts of our public education system to learn from each other. Charters are not the only answer, but they are one part of the answer when it comes to improving our schools.

No.

While I certainly think in most places we can and should have more housing – and I have supported for example laws that have made it much easier to build secondary dwellings – like backyard cottages or garage conversions, I don’t support a one-size-fits-all approach. For example, I oppose the bill SB50 that would have essentially ended single-family zoning on much of the Peninsula.

I support the Governor’s plan for one tunnel. I think it does a good job of balancing our need for water and our mandate to protect the environment.
In general, I don’t think this is the time to be raising taxes. There are some fees and costs I think tech companies should be working to address – because none of us should have to subsidize a prosperous business. But I take a very cautious view on new taxes – in part because they generally wind up hitting working families hardest and in part because I think we should be demanding government does better before we give them more.
In general, I don’t think this is the time to be raising taxes. There are some fees and costs I think tech companies should be working to address – because none of us should have to subsidize a prosperous business. But I take a very cautious view on new taxes – in part because they generally wind up hitting working families hardest and in part because I think we should be demanding government does better before we give them more.

I support a woman’s right to choose and I believe such an important decision should be between a woman and those she invites into the conversation with her, including her doctor and her family.

I do not support taking away people’s existing healthcare, so no, I do not support the single-payer concept as currently proposed. I support a public option that would allow any Californian who wants the ability to buy into our state’s Medicare system to do so. If single payer works – it will work in the marketplace and it will grow, become more efficient and be chosen by families and companies as the healthcare system of choice. I support the option and choice – not a mandate from Sacramento. Additionally, there’s no funding mechanism outside of new taxes I can’t support.

I do. I know this is a divisive issue for some. But for me – I think health care is a human right and we need to value that right. I do believe it is less expensive in the long-run to keep people healthy than it is to allow them to get and stay sick – because our emergency rooms don’t turn undocumented immigrants away. And finally, as I have said, I have seen my own husband and his family live this. People are not coming here to get healthcare – they are coming to flee oppression or poverty. We need comprehensive immigration reform – and we need to keep working to invest in peace and prosperity in Central America and elsewhere.

We need to link the Central Valley to Silicon Valley – and that should be the start of high-speed rail, not Bakersfield to Merced. The plan is not complete and I don’t support it. The Governor has said he is working on that key leg – the leg to Diridon Station in San Jose. And I await that plan before I would give my support.

I support high-quality traditional public charters, which have an important role to play as places where we can innovate in education. Particularly in very low-income communities, charters are sometimes the only alternative parents have for their kids. I do not support for-profit charter schools. Additionally, we need to hold charter schools to the highest standards and not be afraid to revoke charters if those schools are failing.

Our goal is to lift up every kid and every school – whether a traditional public school or a public charter. And we need to do a better job of getting those two parts of our public education system to learn from each other. Charters are not the only answer, but they are one part of the answer when it comes to improving our schools.

I support Common Core, but I think we need to build upon it. Not enough of our kids are graduating, especially among students of color. Addressing disparities in our education system is one of the most important things we can do to fight inequality throughout our society. Recent studies confirm the persistent California achievement gap.

Accountability should be critical for all of us. It shouldn’t just be teachers who are held accountable – hold elected officials, parents, principals and the students themselves accountable. It should be all of us. I believe that we need to spend more on our schools and pay our teachers more. What accountability helps us do is make the case. The way to get the public to spend more is to show them that we’re doing more with the money we have now. We need a clear assessment and accountability system for our schools and teachers. Student test scores should be one of the many factors measuring success. I would also like to see some thought devoted to how we can better promote critical thinking and creative learning in this era of metrics.

We absolutely need to do more to make college more affordable for all students. Unfortunately, many of the plans for free tuition ignore the fact that for low-income students, the biggest expense isn’t tuition (which is mostly already covered through grants and other forms of assistance), but housing, food, books, travel and other essentials.

Making college free for wealthy families doesn’t help close the gap between rich and poor. It makes it wider because we are taking money that should go to books, tuition, living expenses and better pre-K-12 public schools and giving it to wealthy families.

Making community college free in Marin or Atherton or Beverly Hills does not close the gap between the rich and poor – it makes it wider. We need to make books, transit and even living expenses free for low-income kids so they can get vital job skills and help grow our economy.

I believe we can create more opportunities for those who need help the most by starting with a fair evaluation of where higher education dollars really go and then creating grants and programs that meet those needs. This can mean progressively discounting tuition based on income with grants to better help low-income students cover their room and board. Or it could mean starting with free community college – with cost of living stipends – when we know that lower-income students are more likely to attend two-year colleges.

Yes. We all know the benefits of early education. Studies have shown that pre-K education leads to higher test scores and a reduced chance of being held back a grade. Further, it can lead to fewer children with special education placements, which means investment in early education can reduce the cost later down the line. There are a number of policies to provide quality early education to California kids. We need to look at ways to encourage coordination between pre-K and K-12 to improve transitions for children. We also need to ensure there are established comprehensive early learning standards and that pre-K teachers receive the training, support and compensation that’s comparable to K-12 teachers.
I think we should be able to sit down in good faith and negotiate a solution to our coming pension crisis with our public employee unions. This issue is in the courts. But I agreed with former Governor Jerry Brown – we need to reform this rule so we can negotiate in good faith to everyone – union members, future retirees, taxpayers, and most importantly, our children and grandchildren who will be called on to pay the debts and close the deficits if we don’t act.

Yes. Unions are a path to strong middle-class jobs – and I support the ability of unions to protect their members.

Do you have a question for Annie? Ask it here, and we will post her answer as quickly as possible!