When the Legislature convenes for the 2023-2024 session December 5th, some big issues will be waiting for us. They include crime, the cost of living, water supply – these problems and many more need immediate attention.
According to a recent report from the Attorney General’s office, violent crime increased by 6.7% from 2020 to 2021. Property crimes increased 3%, the total arrest rate decreased 7.3%, adults on probation are at the lowest level since 1980, and the total number of full-time criminal justice personnel decreased by 2.7%. So crime rose, but law enforcement personnel, arrests and probation rates have gone down. Even so, we can reduce crime; we just need to put criminals in jail, with supervised probation and substance use and mental health treatment programs that prevent future crimes.
The rising cost of living is a national problem, resulting largely from the federal government printing trillions out of thin air – a policy that always causes inflation. Rising oil costs are another factor. California has massive inland oil reserves, while most of our oil is imported from overseas. But our gas taxes add more per gallon than the national average.
What about water? Voters approved a water bond in 2014 to fund new reservoirs and aqueducts, with minimal progress on two reservoirs underway and no big projects being planned. I have introduced multiple bills to expand storage facilities and encourage use of recycled water for agriculture. Unfortunately, those bills were blocked by the majority in Sacramento. Desalination is one partial solution, but it took over 14 years to get the Poseidon plant in Carlsbad approved and a similar plant in Orange County was recently blocked. Bureaucratic hurdles standing in the way of vital water projects must be eliminated.
These are just a few of the many critical issues we face. Hopefully, bipartisanship and commonsense won’t be in short supply next session.