Making Democracy Work

Interview with Senator Jim Beall

Jim Beall Interview 2017

Legislative Interview State Senator Beall, District 15 February 10, 2017 by the League of Women Voters Southwest Santa Clara Valley and San Jose/Santa Clara

1. Funding of Elections: What legislative measures would you support to ensure adequate and stable funding of election administration in California?

The funding of campaigns is very expensive and has become heavily influenced by independent expenditures and outside money," said Senator Beall. As a strong supporter of campaign finance reform, Beall has been a supporter of the DISCLOSE Act. He also supports overturning Citizens United at the federal level. Beall also focused on the high cost of holding special elections. He suggested studying whether they should be consolidated with regularly scheduled elections, such as primary or general elections. Ensuring that the community has proper representation is something that the state needs to continue working on. Senator Beall said he would also like to see a larger push to keep special interest groups from influencing elections at every level of government.

2. Public Higher Education: How can Californians meet the challenge of enrolling more students, including students with greater needs, at the UC and CSU? Is more state funding needed? Where does this issue rank in your legislative priorities?

The budget for education is a top priority for Senator Beall. He said state universities and community colleges need to focus on graduation rates and increasing enrollment for in state residents. He emphasized the importance of community colleges because students are able to attend at a much lower cost and are able to transfer to a four-year universities. Senator Beall supports the expansion of community colleges as well as a more CSU campuses. He believes the state should look into doing a bond to update facilities at CSUs. He also thinks that there is a need for more full-time tenure track professors rather than part-time adjunct professors to improve graduation rates and time to completion. Additionally, Beall supports more community colleges offering four year degrees and finding ways to make college more affordable.

3. Water Resources: What kinds of legislative proposals would you support to ensure that enough water of adequate quality is available for municipal and industrial uses, agriculture, and the environment in the face of over-stretched surface and groundwater resources and climate conditions different than those California has experienced in the last century?

California has faced one of the most severe droughts in the state's history in the last two years and Beall has work extensively with state and local leaders to find solutions for conservation and recycling of water. "Conservation is vital in our state," said Beall. "It is everyone's responsibility from a homeowner to a farmer to smartly conserve water." Beall is no stranger to helping get cities assistance for conservation. He authored legislation to get the city of San Jose the approval to fast-track the expansion of drought-proof ground water storage. The Purple Pipe project replenishes drought-exhausted ground water tables with recycled water that is naturally cleansed through percolation. When finished the project will save enough potable water for 175,000 people a year. He also has ideas about how to lower the usage of water on farms. "We need to find ways to incentivize agriculture crop owners and encourage a metering system state-wide," said Beall. Beall also believes that the state needs to repair and upgrade our levee system and consider what to do with the Delta.

4. Local issues in our district:

Beall emphasized the need for more affordable housing, locally and statewide. The high cost of living in Silicon Valley has caused people to move out of the area or to travel long distances to work. Beall introduced Senate Bill 3 to generate more affordable housing throughout the state. The bill proposes to put a $3 billion housing bond before voters to assist the homeless as well as create more homeownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income earners.

Beall also stressed that the savings of housing a chronically homeless person is far less expensive than using government resources. Housing studies show that they are better able to get services they need and to get a job that results in a better life.

5. What other major issues do you think the legislature must deal with in 2017? What are your personal priorities?

As the chairman of the Senate Transportation and Housing committee, Beall has been working to fix to the state's aging transportation infrastructure. Beall introduced SB 1 this session which will add more than $5 billion annually for road repairs and mass transit.

Another issue that the legislature must deal with is immigration. Not only is immigration a moral issue but it is an economic issue in California and could have a major impact on our interdependence. San Jose is home to over 100,000 undocumented residents that contribute to the well-being of our state.

Jim Beall Interview 2016

Legislative Interview State Senator Beall, District 15 January 29, 2016, League of Women Voters Southwest Santa Clara Valley and San Jose/Santa Clara

Voting and Elections California experienced historically low voter turnout in the 2014 primary and general elections Many bills were introduced in 2015 to address voter turnout and engagement; a number were passed by the Legislature and signed into law, while some remain on the agenda for 2016.

What legislative proposals would you support to improve the number of California citizens who register and turn out to vote? Are there other steps that government should take to engage more California residents in elections?

"We must focus on education and outreach to raise voter turnout. This dual approach would also increase participation in low propensity voting communities that are often overlooked," Beall said. He agreed there needs to be a greater emphasis on the use of technology. Senator Beall is open to the idea of exploring on-line voting, but only if it employs state-of-the-art security systems to prevent breaches by hackers. He is confident in Secretary of State Alex Padilla's plans to modernize outreach programs and as well as the balloting process, from the casting of votes to their collection and accurate tabulation.

Housing Increasing the supply of housing for people of modest means is a vexing problem in California. Underlying the problem is the clash of market economics (when housing is scarce, rents skyrocket) with the strong bonds people form with their homes and neighborhoods. Even if a family doesn't own their home, they form practical and emotional attachments to what they call home because it impacts every aspect of life-from employment opportunities and friendships to access to good public education and health care.

What will you do to ensure that your constituents are not displaced from their homes, and what steps would you take to increase the supply of housing- especially housing that is affordable to people of modest means? Do you agree this would require a stable and dedicated source of funding?

As Chairman of the Transportation and Housing committee for the State Senate, Sen. Beall is currently working to ensure those who work hard and save should be able to afford a home. In January, he introduced Senate Bill 879, a proposal to spur more affordable housing construction by authorizing the issuance of bonds whose proceeds would be used to finance housing-related programs that serve the homeless and extremely low-income and very low-income Californians.

Last year, Senator Beall introduced Senate Bill 377, which called for modifying the state low-income housing tax credit to increase the value of state tax credits by 40 percent at no additional cost to the state. The bill would have given developers and investors a greater incentive to construct more affordable housing. The bill was passed by the Legislature but vetoed by the Governor, who killed other bills relating to affordable housing.

Climate Change Climate change was a major issue in the first year of the 2015-2016 legislative session. The legislature passed SB350, which requires the expansion of the state's renewable energy portfolio to 50% by 2030 and an increase in energy efficiency of buildings by 50% by 2030. Similar reductions in petroleum use in vehicles were removed from the bill. SB32, which would have established a target of 80% reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the 1990 level by 2050, was amended to require only a 40% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 and to weaken the authority of the California Air Resources Board; it was held over as a two-year bill.

What are your priorities for state legislation and policies on climate change? Are there other related issues that you feel need to be addressed?

"I was a co-author of Senate Bill 350 and voted for it in its original form in the State Senate," Beall said. The bill, introduced by Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, called for a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use in cars and trucks; a 50 percent increase in energy efficiency in buildings; and a goal of half of the state's power generated from renewable energy by 2030. After amendments in the Assembly, due to pressure form the petroleum companies, SB 350 bill was amended to eliminate the call for a 50 percent reduction in petroleum.

In Silicon Valley, Beall has focused on bringing BART through San Jose to the city of Santa Clara. He also fought for funding to electrify CalTrain to reduce headways, meet future ridership demands, increase safety, reduce pollution, and to run quieter trains. Beall supports using some of the state's Cap and Trade dollars to finance large mass transit projects with the potential to slash voluminous amounts of greenhouse gas emissions.

Local Issue: BART Funding What does Senator Beall see happening with state funding for BART to San Jose? Possible follow up- Would SB9 Cap and Trade funds be available?

Funding for transportation projects such as BART is very competitive. I've been vigilant to ensure BART to Santa Clara gets its fair share of state funds. Last year, I advocated for and voted for an additional $675 million for the project through Cap and Trade program funds. By 2025, Phase 2 of the BART project would reduce GHG emissions reduction 29,171 metric tons per year.

"We need to get more cars off the road and the way to do that is having a smart, effective transportation plan. We need transit that focuses on connectivity, speed and safety," Beall said. There needs to be a focus on transit, walking and biking + and exploiting the ways we can tie them together -- in order to reduce the vehicle miles traveled," said Beall. "We have to concentrate on ways to weave public transportation into the heart of communities. Better access to transportation has been shown to improve the lives of poor families because it widens their opportunities for employment, education, and health care. By using Cap and Trade funding we are investing in a long-term solution for transportation." Last year, Beall's Senate Bill 9 was signed into law, the bill infuses practicality and speed into the process of building environmentally friendly mass transit projects, such as BART to San Jose. The bill guarantees long-term funding from the Cap and Trade program for eligible projects, eliminating the necessity to apply for financing in phases and the commissioning of repetitive planning studies for each stage.

SB 9 will ensure that Cap and Trade funding is invested responsibly in projects that maximize GHG reductions and meet the goals of AB 32.

Priorities What major issues do you think the legislature must deal with in 2016? What are your personal priorities?

"I agree with the Governor that the top priority is balancing the budget and having a rainy day reserve," said Beall. "That does not mean that we can ignore other issues that need immediate attention. The Department of Developmental Services is in a crisis. Homes are being closed, transportation for people with disabilities is being stopped, and beds for the disabled are being removed. Currently, there are 300,000 people with disabilities in the state. We need to address this issue quickly to help our most vulnerable people. With smart and careful planning, I believe we can balance the budget, make deposits in the rainy day reserve, and begin restoring funding for people with disabilities."

Local question: Workmen's Compensation What are you doing to bring justice for injured workers as a result of the workers' comp reform of 2012, since it eliminated (due process) for injured workers?

"The workers compensation needs reforms, but I couldn't support Senate Bill 863 because it was overly complex and rushed through the Legislature," said Beall. "There should have been more focus on the treatment for injured workers and less on overhead. Medical conditions that are chronic are becoming acute and treatments such as chiropractic and acupuncture were not considered. For example, this has affected policemen and firemen who legally cannot go to work if they are taking painkillers. Even if they want to work, they often retire, which is a more expensive option."

Jim Beall interview 2015

League of Women Voters Legislative Interview with Senator Jim Beall , District 15 on Friday, February 20, 2015 by League members Trudy LaFrance, Cecilie Schulze, Sandy Remmers, Connie Hunter from the San Jose/Santa ClaraSan Jose/Santa Clara League of Women Voters. The Southwest Santa Clara Valley League and the Cupertino/Sunnyvale leagues also attended.

Question 1. Money in Politics (Campaign Disclosure). Cal-Access is the database and website for online reporting and disclosure of state campaign and lobbying financial activity. It is antiquated, inflexible, and desperately in need of an overhaul to make it robust and user-friendly for the public and the media as well as for those who are required to file disclosure reports. Would you support funding for the rebuilding of Cal-Access? Possibilities that have been mentioned include an item in the 2015-2016 state budget and a loan from the state's General Fund that would be repaid over time from an existing fun dedicated to improvement of Cal-Access.

Yes, Senator Beall supports an overhaul. Secretary of State Alex Padilla is a Tech savy MIT grad who plans to propose and push an overhaul in this year's budget. Senator Beall supported SB 1442 (Lara) which would have required the development of a new internet-based campaign filing and public display system. This year, Senator Beall is a member of the Senate Budget committees and the Senate Appropriation committee so he will be involved with the overhaul.

He would like the League's input on what we would like to see done with the overhaul of the database and website.

Would you support a requirement that Cal-Access be structured to allow expansion to include electronic filing of local disclosure reports?

Yes, but it needs to be better integrated; currently when you search for local elected officials, the website links to the local clerk's office which has various processes that can be confusing and time consuming.

Question 2. Education, Part 1- Early Childhood Education Early childhood Education Programs were greatly reduced during the economic downturn Although significant funding was reinstated last session, it is still not at the previous level, and large numbers of children, with differing needs, go unserved. Among the options for increased funding of ECE programs are
1. universal access for all four year olds
2. limiting funding to low-income children and those with special needs while expanding the reach to three-year-olds,
3. expanding and improving service for the very young (ages zero to three), or
4. the ideal, all of the above. What would be your preference?

Number 4 would be the most expensive option, working your way up to the least expensive option. Depending on the tax returns in April, Senator Beall would like to increase all child care opportunities.

Last year's 2014-2015 budget included $273 million for early learning and child development. The biggest investment in over a decade. This year with DeLeon's bill, the Senate wants to increase childcare slots. More may be done in the budget revision in May.

What first?

Senator Beall wants expanded funding for the very young (zero to three) because it is so important to identify children with special needs early and get them help. Addressing the youngest children's needs in the first three years saves the most state money.

What do you think has the best chance of being funded and signed?

Senator Beall wants early intervention if there is money. He also wants to see if there is money in funds like the First 5 Commission that can be redirected. He wants to look at how that money is being spent. He believes that First 5 is currently speading the money too thin and the money should be concentrated on the programs listed above.

Education, Part 2 Cap on Reserves. As part of the 2014-15 state budget, the legislature adopted a trailer bill, SB858, one provision of which would place a cap on local school district reserves, including assigned and unassigned year-end balances, under certain conditions. That provision was linked to Proposition 2 in the November election, and with the passage of Prop 2, it is now in effect.

In August, at the close of the legislative session, there was an attempt to repeal the cap language, but it failed. Would you support a bill to repeal the cap and restore the authority of local school districts, in alignment with the norm of local control, to ensure school district can maintain healthy reserves to protect students and teachers from budget cuts during future economic downturns?

Senator Beall feels the cap may need modification, but it won't be through a bill. The cap was a request of the Governor who would have held the budget. If there are changes, it will be modified through the budget approval process. Senator Beall understands that schools vary in size and also their local fiscal capacity in order to provide funding for projected drops in enrollment, textbooks, technology upgrades, school buses, CALSTRS contributions, etc. He agrees that this last minute budget implementation needed to be discussed in policy committee in order to engage stakeholders and members of the legislature, and more voices needed to be heard. He looks forward to continuing the conversation with stakeholders, members of the budget committee, and the Governor's office.

Senator Beall wants an accountability measure rather than an across the board cap on funds. Schools need to show that the money given to the schools is being used for programs and services for students; or show that the reserve money is needed for a specific capital improvement. He does not want taxpayer money to be sitting in reserve accounts, except for a reasonable amount.

Question 2. Water. In recent months, voters approved the Proposition 1 water bond and the legislature passed significant groundwater legislation. Do you see these actions as having addressed the important water issues in your district? If not, what more should be done?

Yes, Santa Clara County will be helped by the water bond. The passage of the Water Bond will help leverage local funding sources to meet the infrastructure and delivery demands of our local water system. It will pay for conservation, recycling, percolation ponds, reservoirs, and to buy open space on hillsides to protect watersheds to keep our local rivers downstream clean. If we allow for continued housing growth along the hillsides, we can see an increase of water contamination due to septic tanks. Senator Beall is not a fan of the Governor's plan for the tunnels, the "high speed rail for water".

What can the legislature do to increase California's resilience in the face of future water supply uncertainties?

The state needs meters on all rural and urban wells and all water users. We passed three bills last year that Senator Beall supported that will monitor and preserve groundwater. The package of bills creates sustainable, local groundwater management for the first time in California history. The bond funding will allow for cleanups of contaminated groundwater sites and for groundwater storage projects.

We need to reward people who conserve water and who pull up their lawns. We need continued education on conservation.

A big factor in global warming is transporting water. We need to keep water locally. We are close to hitting our water reduction goals. We can save household water by using gray water .We can greatly expand .our local water recycling plant and put purple pipes to local business and homeowners. Car washes use recycled water for washing, but rinse with fresh water. If recycled water is pumped in, they would use it. He has a meeting with San Jose's mayor and other area leaders about water recycling and other water projects. Senator Beall was on the West Valley Sanitation Board so he is familiar with these issues. Locally we still need to compete for funding to upgrade our dams against failure during an earthquake, Engineers at the Valley Water District are currently undertaking extensive seismic stability studies at Anderson, Almaden, Calero, Guadalupe, Stevens Creek, and Lenihan dams. The Water District will make applications to the California water Commission which has the authority to allocate the $2.7 billion for storage projects. He was on the State Seismic Safety Commission so he is aware of this issue.

Question 3. Climate Change. What legislation promoting climate change solutions would you support?

Transportation emissions are responsible for nearly 40% of the greenhouse gas emissions within the state. California's freeways are clogged with cars. By improving mass transit and rail systems, we can get more commuters off the road and efficiently transport them to and from their workplaces and homes.

Climate Change is a priority this year for the Senate. His bill SB9 is one of several. Other proposals include historic benchmarks for pollution reduction, energy efficiency, and petroleum use that will spur innovation and investment and maintain California's lead in creating jobs in the advanced energy sector.

Electric vehicles still contribute to traffic congestion so we lose the benefit of electric vehicles. It would expand light rail and busses. Cap and Trade funding would allow for the expansion of light rail and buses. We also need to support high speed rail to get people out of airplanes. If we build High Speed Rail quicker and in fewer segments, we can reap benefits at lower cost. Senator Beall supports reforestation and retrofitting commercial buildings.

Currently AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, expires in 2020. He supports Pavley's SB32 which extends to 2035 the goal of using at least 50% renewable energy sources and 50% reduction in carbon emissions.

Senator Beall's goal is to localize sources of energy to not have long energy transmission lines from the desert or Bakkan oil shipped here on boats or by rail. The oil-by-rail is very dangerous and volatile as we have see from the most recent explosions. Keeping energy sources locally is key to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions.

Government is helping reduce the use of energy through tax credits for energy upgrades for apartments and housing, through the Public Utilities Commission , Cap and Trade, Green Bank, and the Property Accessed Clean Energy (PACE ) Program. In a meeting with Robert Reich, he emphasized now is the time to use tax-exempt, low cost bonds to finance energy programs.

Question 4 part 1. What major issues do you think the legislature must deal with in 2015? SB15 Expanding opportunities to attend college AB15 Expand slots in the UCs SB16 Funding of maintenance and road repair

In general, the Legislature is expanding its oversight of all departments. We are holding hearings on housing, transportation and maintenance issues.

Part 2. What are your personal priorities?

SB11 +Mental health training of police officers to help them defuse volatile situations with people with mental disorders. It would include crisis intervention training, which includes an emergency social worker. It could save lives and money. The state spent $4 million in two lawsuits last year against the CHP. The first was in Sunnyvale where a man was shot multiple times by a rookie. The second case was in LA when a woman wandering the street was beaten by a CHP officer and the incident was recorded on video. DDS-The Department of Developmental Services faces a funding crisis. Over 150 group homes for the developmentally disabled closed in the last few years. More are threatened. If the system collapses, the people will go into rooming houses or become homeless. Many individuals with developmental disabilities are dual-diagnosed, which means they have mental health as well . Senator Beall and others sent a letter to the Governor in November asking for a 10% increase in provider rates in the base rate of the budget. There was no increase. Now they have sent another letter to include an increase in the May budget revision. The developmentally disabled have no high paid lobbyists as other groups do. Senator Beall also wants an increase in the budget for the Foster Adoption and Kin- Gap programs. These are important programs to increase family adoption of foster children. They provide payments when relatives foster a child. In some cases, the biological parent can be part of the child's life depending on the situation. Senator Beall is introducing two pieces of legislation addressing the issues of overmedication in the Foster Care system which was highlighted recently in the Mercury News.