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Bob Huff

In 2014, there’s Room for Republicans in California

We’ve seen the election results. We read the polls, too. It’s no secret that Republicans have not fared well in California. So it’s up to us to reach out and build trust with the people. And building that trust depends on connecting with groups of voters who may have come to distrust who Republicans are – though not necessarily what we stand for. Talk is one thing, but actions speak louder than words. In 2014 and beyond Republican lawmakers will build trust through legislative efforts and policy initiatives that show we’re on the side of all Californians. We’re going to show California that Republicans believe government can work efficiently by doing what it’s supposed to do: serve the people.

Right now that’s not always the case. The other party controls both the governor’s office and the Legislature. Their voting records show the priority for their chosen special interests – no matter the cost to taxpayers. In too many cases, the needs of the people are pushed to government’s back burner. It’s no secret why. Nobody wants to anger friends – especially when those friends turn out to walk precincts and support their campaigns. That misplaced loyalty has forced them to choose between serving the public, or serving special interests. There’s a need to hold the other party accountable. And in doing so, Republican lawmakers will get the chance to show that we too, are worthy of the public’s trust and support. Here are the areas we believe the people care about most:

The Economy – The other party continues to fail at new job creation. Our unemployment rate remains stubbornly high at 8.7 percent and yet the fastest growing industry in California is government. Only five other states have an unemployment rate higher than California. This will be one of the big issues that Senate Republicans will focus on: helping California workers find jobs.

Health Care- We have to make sure that as California’s version of Obamacare, Covered California, rolls out in the coming months that the new health care system works. As the Legislature and governor adjust to the new system, Republicans will stand for making sure that money sent to Covered California gets dedicated to patient care first. Otherwise we could easily find ourselves with a health care system that gives better benefits to the government workers shuffling health care paperwork than those who need treatment.

Protecting Students – Our kids deserve safe schools and the best teachers in every classroom. But when students are sexually molested in public classrooms and we still can’t pass a solid law to protect them, it’s clear the needs of the public aren’t being heard by the other party. We know what the public is rightfully demanding, and we will try once again to pass a student protection bill that quickly takes criminal teachers out of the classroom and off the public payroll.

Water- It’s obvious that California is suffering from yet another drought. This year, Republicans will be pressuring the other party to complete their revisions of the multi-billion dollar water bond ballot measure that they agreed to in 2009. We will do everything we can to make sure the final product put before voters includes new water storage capacity for California. Otherwise, why spend billions of dollars for a water bond that doesn’t actually include any new water?

Public Transit- The other party has made it clear that they want Californians to rely on public transit as a way of life. That makes government responsible for ensuring reliable public transit. That’s not the case as was made clear during two recent BART strikes. California Republicans have offered legislation to ban public transit strikes throughout the state. As with police and firefighters, vital public services cannot be allowed to be treated simply as a bargaining chip for public workers.

High Speed Rail- The estimated costs have tripled, hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars have already been spent and they haven’t even broken ground. Two court rulings prove this “Train to Nowhere” is not what voters approved back in 2008 and there’s no more funding available. But the other party favors pushing forward because it will allow them to dole out new jobs to their friends. Republican Senator Andy Vidak is pushing for a statewide ballot measure re-vote on High Speed Rail. We’ll do our best to get that measure passed.

State Budget – A balanced budget is a good thing but it’s not enough unless that public money is spent wisely. The other party will be under great pressure from their friends to “reinvest” in new programs. We have to recognize and pay down our existing debts, such as the multi-billion dollar unemployment insurance liability and long term pension obligations before considering new programs. Like High Speed Rail, new programs offer up new opportunities for public worker jobs. That’s tempting for the other party, but it’s not as important getting our money’s worth from government.

Public Safety – Last year Republican Senator Anthony Cannella proposed directing state government to send all the money it saved from the early release of prisoners, to local governments. The goal was to make sure cities and counties could safely handle their new crush of inmates and parolees. The other party killed that bill. The people are being cheated when public safety is short changed just for the sake of bragging about a balanced state budget.

Republicans expect to gain more influence in Sacramento, and earn the trust of more Californians to represent their interests after the 2014 election. As long as the other party continues to enjoy supermajority rule, it has no real reason to change. California deserves a government that works for everyone. And that’s why there’s room, and relevance, for Republicans in California in 2014 and beyond.