In the race for the California State Senate Seat that represents the Monterey Bay Area, incumbent Democrat Bill Monning is facing Republican Palmer Kain.
Monning served two terms in the California State Assembly before being elected to the State Senate in 2012. This would be his second term in the District 17 State Senate seat.
Rick Kleffel (RK): You're a Democratic incumbent. What Democratic values will guide and inform you as you govern, and as you craft and vote on legislation?
Bill Monning (BM): I've been a lifelong Democrat and as Majority Leader of the Democratic Party we have several ways of shaping what those principles are. I think to summarize I would say principles of prioritizing education, protection of the environment , good middle-class living wage jobs, and building a sustainable economy, an economy that's both looking forward in terms of protecting our environment and creating living-wage jobs for California's workforce which is again inked to good education opportunity.
RK: Water supplies for agricultural, commercial and home uses are an issue throughout your district. How would you address them at the level of the State Senate?
BM: The leading employer in that district is agriculture – highly water dependent; the second leading employer is hospitality/tourism, also water dependent for hospitality, hotels, restaurants, etcetera. And we've been under a state order to reduce our over-drafting of the Carmel River, that's for the Monterey Peninsula water users. So there's been several initiatives. So I think it's been fair to say my philosophy on water is there's not a single solution or a single fix. We're working on exploration of desal, also conservation, capturing water, saving water, charging our water tables. There's this Monterey Pure Water project that's using waste water, running it through a reverse osmosis process, similar to desal, that can be injected into our water table. I'm also very interested at the state level to expand ways for residential and commercial users to capture what we call "gray water," that's maybe been used for washing dishes, or in showers, so that we're not using precious potable water when we can use secondary use by better managing the water that we're using already.
RK: Give me a précis for what you understanding of and your plans are for the California economy.
BM: So we have a very strong economy, over two trillion dollars of GDP, and we're supporting that with about $120 billion dollars a year state budget. We balanced our budget the last six years, on time. We now have a seven billion dollar reserve. That said, we face on-going trends of challenges to invest in education at the levels we would like to. K-12 and higher education have been the biggest winners in our budgets during this economic recovery. We've moved the state from 49th in the nation of per-capita funding to 35th. Our best economic investment is investment in education. For the first time in over 20 years, this year's budget, 2016-2017 budget, we invest more in higher education, than in state prisons.