After serving in the California Assembly for almost two years, it has become even more clear to me that the status quo is simply not working for our state not only in terms of bad policies and oversized government, but also in terms of the vacuum of effective leadership among elected officials.
Too many politicians today settle for the easy, more comfortable road of placating voters by telling them what they want to hear and offering trite solutions to complex challenges. But we need hardworking leaders to turn this state around, not recycled politicians. We need solution-focused leaders who will develop and implement thoughtful, strategic plans to revitalize our economy and attract the jobs we need to grow and remain competitive in a global marketplace.
Our Founding Fathers were masterfully skilled at critical thinking, problem solving, writing, persuasion and consensus building skills that, in many respects, are a lost art in politics today. They have been replaced with divisive partisanship, short-term ideas, and allegiance to pledges and special interests over constituents. One of the more visible examples is the well-known no-tax pledge.
I signed this pledge during my first Assembly campaign because I am committed to the principle that the best way to improve an economy is to lower taxes, as evidenced by my 100 percent "perfect" score from the California Taxpayers Association the oldest, most respected taxpayer watchdog group in the state. Higher taxes have never led to economic revitalization, and California's ability to restore its economic health will be severely limited as long as we remain the third-highest taxed state in the nation.
The problem with the no-tax pledge is that entrenched special interests interpret what is or is not a violation of the pledge in order to serve their own agendas and sometimes their interpretations defy logic. Also, the pledge is frequently misconstrued and has become a distraction to the Republican Party's winning message of jobs, low taxes, economic freedom and opportunity.
To grow the Republican Party, we have to get away from relying solely on "No" messages. We are better than that, and Californians deserve and desire solution-focused leadership that will help bring legislative Democrats over to our side on the need for lower taxes and substantive reforms.
These are the reasons I have decided not to renew the pledge as I seek re-election in the new 12th Assembly District. Signing a pledge that is subject to arbitrary interpretations serves no purpose. I am committed to standing up for my constituents and to the fact that I am accountable to them and them alone, not to illogical interpretations of a document that was authored by someone thousands of miles away from California.
I want to be clear; my commitment to my constituents remains the same. I will always strive to keep taxes as low as possible on individuals, families and businesses to help foster a vibrant marketplace of good jobs and to help create a more healthy business climate; I will defend Proposition 13; I will demand fiscal responsibility and fight for a cap on state spending while working to increase transparency throughout the legislative process and state government. But I will not allow myself or my constituents to be bullied by outsiders.
We need principled pragmatists who will think long and hard about the problems plaguing our state and offer thoughtful solutions on how to bring Californians together to rebuild trust, to grow our economy and to reform our failing schools.
California is where the American dream became a reality, but we have lost our way. I will do the best I can to go against the grain and provide a new kind of leadership leadership focused on solving problems instead of spewing tired rhetoric, leadership in service to constituents instead of entrenched special interests, leadership aimed at putting economic freedom and prosperity back within our reach.
Getting our state back on track won't be easy. It's going to take extraordinary leadership and cooperation. It's going to take commitment, focused determination and persistence. But if more citizens get engaged and if elected officials choose to take the hard road of leadership, instead of the safe road of divisive and paralyzing politics, I truly believe California has the opportunity to be better than we have ever been before.