The race for the 66th Assembly District is heating up. On Oct. 4, 2012, the first debate between the two contenders, state prosecutor Al Muratsuchi and small-business owner Craig Huey, took place in the George Nakano Theater in Torrance, sponsored by the Torrance Police Officers Association.
About Torrance Unified School District Board Member Al Muratsuchi, I have commented that he appears to be “union bought and paid for.” Still, he also advertises himself as an “Independent,” a real choice for the voters looking for sound representation in Sacramento. In a recent mailer, Muratsuchi claims that he is “Pro-Choice”, while Huey is an “Anti-Choice” ideologue, trying to play up a social issue which does not weigh on the minds of voters, unlike the disturbing number of businesses fleeing the state because of high taxes and overregulation.
Yet at the end of the debate sponsored by the Torrance Police Officers Association, Mr. Muratsuchi still refused to give up the $8,000 that he received from the California Teachers Association, citing that he was receiving money from many sources. For a candidate who supports choice, he apparently does not differ with organizations which refuse to empower school districts with the choice of removing predatory and dangerously dysfunctional instructors from the classroom.
Furthermore, Mr. Muratsuchi has failed to establish his views—or his choice, if you will—on the matter of Proposition 13, the spearhead of the 1978 Tax Revolt that required legislators to amass a two-thirds majority before raising taxes while fixing property tax rates low.
In the October 4 debate, Mr. Muratsuchi did come forward declaring that he supports Prop 13, despite the “false accusations” of Mr. Huey. He emphasized that he “does not like taxes.” Yet the Torrance School Board member neglected to mention that Huey has signed a pledge to protect Prop 13, while all we have is Muratsuchi’s word.
The word of a political candidate means nothing when he has received considerable contributions from public sector unions and other special interests. Not once has Mr. Muratsuchi explained how he would lead or even contribute to comprehensive pension reform in Sacramento, nor did he allay the latent concern that he has a vested interest to protect – his pension as a school board member and state prosecutor. He remains mum because of public sector money, no doubt.
Later in the debate, the Torrance School Board member signaled that Torrance schools are suffering tremendously because of the severe budget cuts severing funding from the classroom. Unfortunately, not once did Muratsuchi explain the increasing role of spiraling pension and medical costs for retired teachers imagine on public education because. He claimed that retired teachers take in an average of $36,000 a year. Yet even Cal-STRS submitted a larger sum, one which rivals the pay of active teachers in 28 states. Pension obligations in total in California have now reached $500 billion, yet Muratsuchi contends that he does not want to lambaste public sector officials as “scapegoats.” Of course, no mention was made of Mark Berndt from Miramonte Elementary, the alleged predator now on trial for multiple lewd acts against children. He is still slated to receive his $4,000 a month pension.
Prop 13 is about protecting the taxpayer and the property owner from the political class. Prop 13 forced Governor Jerry Brown to present and promote Prop 30 on the November ballot, which would impose a 0.25% sales tax increase and a series of higher tax rates on income earners from $250,000 and above. Like many “soak the rich” advocates, Muratsuchi, a Prop 30 supporter because of dwindling public school revenues, refuses to recognize that small businesses by and large file as individuals, and thus would bear the brunt of this job-killing, investment stalling tax increase. While Sacramento stacks schools against taxpayers, as if they do not have a choice, no one from the statehouse on down has established any comprehensive reforms relating to how the revenues are collected, allocated, and invested. Even The San Francisco Chronicle exposed the extraneous overlapping and waste which still dominate in Sacramento to this day.
At the end of the debate, the country prosecutor claimed that actions speak louder than words, rebuffing Huey’s repeated challenge for his Democratic opponent to divest himself of the funds and endorsement from the public sector unions and career politicians who define the dysfunction in Sacramento. If Mr. Muratsuchi wishes to maintain his independence and his insistence that he will honor the interests of the taxpayer and the property owners in the South Bay, the vast majority of whom want to keep their homes, keep their jobs, and keep their tax rates low, then Al Muratsuchi must sign the Petition to Save Prop 13. No action would speak louder than his signature assuring South Bay voters that he will protect Prop 13, keep the two-thirds majority requirement for tax increases and keep property tax rates low.
Sign the Pledge, Al, or get out of the race!