Catharine Baker: real results, not partisanship

When I ran for State Assembly two years ago, I ran with a very specific mission: to tackle the major issues affecting our community and our state – education, our infrastructure (water and transportation), our state spending and debt – but to do so in a different way… a way that goes beyond partisan lines and special interest powers, that reaches across the aisle and listens to any good idea regardless of which political party came up with it. I’ve done just that from day one, and I’ve seen how effective it’s been.

Here are a few examples of how well this approach works – my bipartisan legislation unanimously supported and signed by Governor Jerry Brown:

- Establishing child abuse prevention training in our schools for the first time in California history (AB1058).

- Helping transition veterans to success in higher education when they leave active duty (AB 1401).

- Bringing accountability and transparency to the Bay Bridge project (AB 1284).

- Addressing the shortage of mental health professionals by removing the red tape in the hiring process (AB 773).

- Ensuring victims of violent crimes receive full restitution for the losses he or she suffered (AB 2295).

- Providing critical funding to domestic violence programs and emergency shelters (AB 1399).

- Combating fraud by creating a location search function for licensed contractors through the licensing board website (AB 2486).

- Removing unnecessary and burdensome hurdles to the hearing process at the Department of Social Services (AB 2346).

- Providing protection for reproductive healthcare workers and domestic violence survivors enrolled in the Safe At Home Program  to protect them from stalkers and abusers (AB 2263).

Because I am in the State Assembly, the legislature chose to pay down unfunded retiree debt and transportation bond debt instead of raising taxes on health plans by $650 million. By breaking the 2/3rds supermajority with my election in 2014, I helped stop $29 billion in tax increases and put the focus back on restraining spending and paying down debts. But there is much more work to do. Below are additional issue areas on which I’ve worked and hope to continue to work with your support for my re-election. Check it out and let me know what you think!


Reforming, modernizing, and holding our education system accountable

I’m a parent of school-age twins, and have been an active parent leader in our local schools. In fact, I am the only candidate who is a parent of school-age children experiencing our education system as it is now, first-hand. 

I believe classroom teachers should have every dollar they need to help each child meet his or her full education potential.  As your Assemblywoman, I’m fighting to ensure school funding actually reaches the classroom rather than being diverted into the education bureaucracy. That’s why I authored legislation to repeal the harmful cap on school district reserves. I also believe it is our duty to keep our kids safe in school. My bill AB1058, passed unanimously and signed by Governor Jerry Brown, helps train school personnel for the first time in California history on how best to prevent child abuse. I authored legislation to reform the rigid seniority system so that school districts can consider the needs of children and the school, and not just rigid seniority rules, when faced with layoffs. I support legislation that creates a more comprehensive and useful evaluation system for teachers - to support and reward effective teachers, to provide more training and mentoring for those that are struggling, or to get rid of the ineffective ones. I also support giving more meaningful opportunities for parental input in decisions affecting our children.


Putting Californian students first in higher education

I believe that California colleges should be for California students first. California students are being disadvantaged in UC admissions because UC administrators are admitting more out-of-state students who pay higher tuition. I have authored bipartisan legislation that will limit the number of out-of-state students UC admits, ensure out-of-state students admitted do not have lower academic qualifications than in-state students or preference over California students for their choice of campus or major, and will require UC to identify and implement cost saving measures that will help reduce UC’s reliance on out-of-state student tuition. I also authored a bipartisan bill that helps transition veterans to success in higher education when they leave active duty.


Protecting our environment

As an avid hiker, I enjoy the outdoors with my family, and fight to preserve and protect our environment.  I believe that we must preserve and enhance our parks and open space and keep our water clean. That’s why I’ve voted to protect our open spaces, and voted to do our part in fighting climate change.  I also:

  • Voted to increase renewable energy resources by 50% (SB 350).
  • Was the only Republican to vote for historic climate change legislation (SB 32).
  • Supported critical funding for our State and local park districts (AB 2444).
  • Coauthored a bill that allows BART to increase its use of renewable energy, enabling BART to reduce the carbon footprint of hundreds of thousands of Bay Area commuters (SB 502).
  • Supported banning the sale of products that use microbeads, which harm environmental systems such as water and sea life (AB 888).
  • Voted to increase pipeline biogas development to reduce short-lived climate pollutants (AB 2313).
  • Voted to require pipelines in ecologically sensitive areas be retrofitted with enhanced spill prevention technology (AB 864).
  • One of only three Republicans to vote to fund clean-up and mitigation of toxic lead-acid battery sites and facilities (AB 2153).
  • Voted to improve fleet modernization programs to remove high-polluting cars off the road in low income areas )AB 1691).
  • Voted to enact a moratorium on gas injection into Aliso Canyon wells (AB 380).
  • Co-authored legislation to develop a regional biosolids to clean energy project in the East Bay Area (SB 1213).


Fighting against BART strikes and High Speed Rail and for smarter transportation solutions

I am the only candidate in this Assembly race to take a stand supporting real, specific legislation that would have banned the 2013 BART strikes before they happened and future BART strikes. The first bill I introduced in the legislature would prevent future BART strikes in a way that is fair to workers and riders. I am the only candidate in this race who will fight for new laws to end BART strikes.

I also fight for smarter transportation policy in California. I oppose High Speed Rail, and support legislation that would re-direct High Speed Rail funds to better transportation investments in roads and transit and to water infrastructure. I authored legislation to connect BART to ACE (Altamont Corridor Express) to remove 30,000 cars from I-580 every day. I also continue to support enhanced BART parking and commuter options, streamlining burdensome regulatory review of transportation projects, and reforming Caltrans so money goes to transportation, not bureaucracy. Specifically I:

  • Support eliminating the High Speed Rail and Twin Tunnels and redirecting those billions of dollars to water storage, schools, and transportation.
  • Authored a bill to prohibit Metropolitan Transportation Commission from transferring toll bridge money to extravagant office space (AB 1938).
  • Supported requiring $1 billion in truck weight fees that are diverted away from transportation to be redirected to transportation funding as they were originally intended (ABX1-18).
  • Support the independent Legislative Analyst’s Office recommendation to eliminate 3,500 redundant jobs at Caltrans, and capture more than $650 million in savings by eliminating 25% of long-term vacant state positions.
  • Support putting transportation dollars in a lockbox to be spent on transportation, not redirected to unrelated spending.


Paying down the state debt and not leaving it for our kids

The state government is literally hundreds of billions of dollars in debt, a debt that is growing, not shrinking. As your Assemblywoman, I’m fighting to stop the state from accumulating more debt, and fighting to pay down the debt we have now so it is not a burden on us or our children. I am also fighting to keep taxes and spending down. Because I broke the 2/3rds majority, I was able to help stop $29 billion in new taxes. I also:

  • Supported SB 86, paying down $240 million of unfunded liabilities and $173 million of transportation bond debt.
  • Support state labor contracts that require state employees to contribute to their pensions.
  • Voted to reform the maze of unfair regulations by requiring the Governor every year to collect and report on all regulations that effect small businesses.


Protecting women’s equality and health

We need to ensure women are treated equally in the workforce and are afforded the same opportunities as their male counterparts. We also need to work to reduce healthcare costs and ensure that we have a strong provider network to serve the growing needs of our state. I also support keeping a woman’s reproductive choice safe and legal to protect women’s health and human dignity. To these ends I:

  • Authored a bill that provides protection for reproductive healthcare workers and domestic violence survivors enrolled in the Safe At Home Program to protect them from stalkers and abusers (AB 2263).
  • Supported a bill that streamlines access to contraception for patients with prescriptions (SB 464).
  • Supported a bill to allow doctors to provide patients with 12 months of continuous birth control (SB 999).
  • Supported a bill that requires the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to monitor and report on assessment of access to care in Medi-Cal and evaluate the adequacy of Medi-Cal reimbursement rates and the existence of other barriers to access to care (AB 366).
  • Voted for legislation allowing women to seek reproductive care directly without requiring a referral from their primary care doctor (AB 1954).
  • Supported a resolution recognizing the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade (HR 32), and supported a resolution urging congress to continue funding of women's reproductive healthcare facilities (SJR 12).
  • Voted for the historic Equal Pay Act that was signed by the Governor (SB 358).
  • Voted to prohibit employers from paying a lower wage to an employee than that paid to the opposite gender solely based on the employee's prior salary (AB 1676).
  • Voted to require an employer to allow employees to take up to six weeks of parental leave to bond with a new child (SB 654).
  • Voted to increase the maximum duration of paid family leave benefits from six to ten weeks per year (AB 908).


Making California a pro-job, pro-employment state again

My grandfather, my Uncle Fred, and Dad operated our small family business in California for decades. As counsel to small businesses in my career, I have seen how difficult our state makes job creation and innovation in the workplace. I am dedicated to making it easier to create and keep jobs in California.  Our future depends on it.  We have the best state in the Union and the best workforce, yet our state government makes it entirely too difficult to create jobs and economic growth. I’ve been working across party lines to modernize outdated regulations that suppress job creation, to make smarter infrastructure investments that support economic prosperity, and to promote innovative job opportunities for working families. Specifically, I:

  • Authored a bill, which passed with bipartisan support, to remove red tape to help address the shortage of mental health professionals (AB 773).
  • Supported AB 419 to reform the regulatory process by requiring the Governor each year to collect and report all regulations that affect small business. 
  • Co-authored legislation to allow employers and employees to agree to more flexible work arraignments (AB 1038)


Reducing Gun Violence In California

Preventing gun violence is in the interest of every Californian, and should not be a partisan issue. Criminals evade laws and get guns with the intention of killing. Poorly stored firearms lead to accidental deaths and guns falling into the wrong hands. While gridlock in Washington prevents more federal laws from being passed, I worked across party lines with my colleagues to take real steps towards promoting a safer community. In the Legislature, I voted for common-sense gun control reforms and even personally co-authored more effective gun control bills, often as the only Republican. For example I:

  • Voted to stop "straw" purchases. This prevents someone who is prohibited from owning a firearm from purchasing it from a person who is legally allowed to own it (AB 1695).
  • Voted to strengthen the Assault Weapons Ban (SB 880, AB 1664, and AB 1135).
  • Voted to strengthen to close loopholes in background checks and licensing (AB 1235).
  • Authored legislation to keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons (AB 2666).
  • Voted to require firearms to be properly stored by public safety officials to avoid theft (SB 869).
  • Voted to strengthen the 30-day waiting period to purchase a firearm (AB 1674).
  • Co-authored a bipartisan bill to lift the ban on gun violence research (SB 1006).


Bringing bipartisan cooperation and independence to the Legislature

When I ran for the Legislature, I promised to be bipartisan and independent from political parties and special interest powers. I’ve done just that: working with Democrats and Republicans on legislation that would impact the day-to-day lives of people in our community and state.  Good ideas don’t come from just one party.  My record shows I put good policies over partisan lines. I’ve proven that I can be effective working across the aisle. I’m also proud that I had broad bipartisan support on many of my bills, and am proud to have co-authored over 100 Democrat bills, not just Republican bills. 



Working with organizations like the Trinity Center, and other support programs in our community. I believe homelessness doesn’t have one simple solution or magic bullet, and it is not something that can be solved just by throwing money at it. It takes partnerships, public and private efforts, good government policies to ensure housing is affordable and isn’t out of reach, and jobs and job skills training is more readily available and accessible to the homeless community. Providing streamlined access to housing and support services so people get the right services at the right time is critical, and expanding programs like Coordinated Entry in Contra Costa County that do just that is a prime example. We also need to create more opportunity for transitional and permanent housing, especially for homeless who have substance abuse and mental health issues. It is also imperative we engage our veteran services agencies so we can ensure that the homeless veteran population has a unrestricted access to the support services they have earned through their military service.