Election 2022: Q&A with California Comptroller Candidate Steve Glazer
There are six candidates for the post of comptroller in the June 7 ballot: tax adviser/educator Lanhee Chen, a Republican; California State Board of Equalization member Malia Cohen, Los Angeles City Comptroller Ron Galperin, State Senator Steve Glazer of Orinda and Chief Financial Officer Yvonne Yiu, all Democrats, and financial analyst Laura Wells, Green Party candidate. The first two voters will qualify for a runoff on November 8.
The San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board sent out six-question polls to each candidate and publishes their responses here.
If you have any comments or questions about the election or any of the candidates after reading this interview, please email Director of Editorial and Opinion Matthew T. Hall at [email protected] .com.
Below are Steve Glazer’s answers and a link to other answers.
Q: What is your background that makes you the best candidate for this position?
A: I have a strong reputation for independence and powerful advocacy. I believe that transparency, integrity and honesty are essential elements of public service.
I have never accepted gifts or special interest trips. I have drafted some of the strictest conflict of interest and public disclosure laws in the country.
I know how to fight entrenched interests and win.
– I wrote a law closing the assault weapons loophole.
– My bill prevented tobacco companies from marketing products aimed at children.
– I took on powerful banking interests to enact the nation’s first small business lending truth law.
– When the Bay Area’s transit system spun out of control, I fought successfully to create an Inspector General to hold the system accountable.
I have over 20 years of experience in auditing public agencies. I served on the audit committee as mayor of my hometown, Orinda, and again as administrator of the 23-campus system at California State University. In the State Senate, I serve on the Legislative Audit Committee.
As Comptroller, I will ensure corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes and protect the pension funds that millions of people rely on for retirement security.
I am a lifelong conservationist who has led numerous campaigns to protect natural lands and habitat. The Comptroller sits on the State Lands Commission, and as a member of that body, environmental preservation will be at the forefront of every decision I make.
I pledge to you to be an independent citizen watchdog.
Q: Rate outgoing controller Betty Yee. What did she do well or not do well?
A: In my opinion, the comptroller was wrong to defend and assist a contractor who was trying to obtain a “no tender” state contract, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. I have read the reports very carefully and fully support an independent investigation to make all the facts public. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
If elected Comptroller, I will work hard to earn the public’s trust and restore the integrity of the office. The monitor should be the guardian of taxpayers and ensure that funds are disbursed based on merit and not insider dealings.
Moreover, I have long believed that state comptrollers for many years have failed to effectively use the office’s audit powers to promote transparency, and with it accountability, for the billions of dollars that California spends every year. We are spending hundreds of billions of dollars and many results are clearly sub-par.
A few examples: We’ve spent billions to help the homeless — and it’s getting worse. Most of the state budget is devoted to education. We have great schools, but we also have over 500 failing schools. We have spent billions more on drought relief and wildfire prevention.
Even our most laudable goals are meaningless if the programs designed to achieve them fail. California needs an activist comptroller who isn’t afraid to pull back the curtain on how our taxes are spent so that the legislature and the public can honestly assess efficiency, eliminate waste, fight fraud and remedy any deficiencies.
Q: California’s payroll computer system is outdated and previous controllers have not been able to resolve the issue. What would you do, if any?
A: Just as the comptroller’s job is to demand honesty and transparency from the state and its agencies, the public has every right to expect the comptroller’s office to pass the same test.
I would start with an independent assessment followed by full public disclosure of all deficiencies in the state payroll system.
Then I would set out a clear path to improve the system with metrics to measure progress and clear timelines for meeting milestones and completion. The whole process would, of course, be public and fully transparent. My office would issue regular progress reports and we would invite the Legislature, the press and the public to see how the rebuilding of the state payroll system is progressing.
In this way, as Comptroller, I would expect to be held accountable for my actions in resolving this issue and setting a standard of conduct for other state agencies to follow.
Q: What are three areas of the office where you would make major changes?
A: As the state’s chief financial officer, the comptroller is responsible for the disbursement of all state funds. Every expense must be properly documented and fully compliant with state and federal law. Before describing the improvements I would make to the office, I want to reaffirm the essential nature of this essential function of the office.
I would expand the audit function of the office to go beyond compliance audits by increasing the use of performance audits that focus on spending efficiency, not just tracking receipts and invoices.
The Comptroller sits on state pension boards, and millions of current and former state employees depend on these pensions for their retirement security. I would encourage closer examination of the “rate of return” assumptions these boards have historically made, which have left the state short of billions of dollars to meet its pension obligations.
I would expand the disclosure of government salary expenditures to include all government agencies. I will work to close the loophole that allows most school districts to avoid this disclosure. We’ve seen examples of outrageous salary payments to city managers and school superintendents that are hidden from public view – salaries of $500,000 and more when teachers and firefighters struggle to make ends meet. . Transparency, or sunlight as I said earlier, is the best disinfectant. The comptroller can and should shine a bright light into every corner of state government.
Q: Former Comptrollers were not aggressive watchdogs raising concerns about state spending, as seen elsewhere in the United States. What approach would you take to monitor and audit aspects of the work?
A: I ask you to look at my past performance – 20 years overseeing audits and performance evaluations of public agencies.
As a council member and mayor of Orinda, I presided over more than 10 years of deficit-free budgets, leaving the town with healthy reserves and no unfunded pension liabilities. At the same time, we have embarked on an extremely successful effort to improve our local roads and infrastructure.
As a trustee at California State University, I served on the audit committee where I asked tough questions and repeatedly voted against exorbitant executive salaries, preferring direct classroom spending instead. Additionally, as a state senator, I drafted legislation requiring the CSU system to focus more on helping students graduate in four years, a policy that has resulted in higher graduation rates. and more efficient use of resources, allowing more students to attend CSU.
In the State Senate, as a member of the Budget and Audit Committees, I constantly sounded the alarm about unfunded pension liabilities and overspending. I also took on powerful interests and won. My legislation closed the assault weapons loophole and prohibited Big Tobacco from marketing its products to children. I held Pacific Gas & Electric accountable for starting wildfires and drafted the bill creating an inspector general to oversee the Bay Area’s beleaguered transit system.
As Controller, I will continue my advocacy for transparency and accountability. I will be a watchdog the public can trust and I will do my job without fear or favor.
Q: Why should voters choose you over your opponents?
A: California needs a tough tax watchdog as a controller. I have experience. I have the track record. I have the know-how to be that individual.
The data controller must respect the values of honesty, transparency and integrity. I have never accepted gifts or traveled for special interests. I’ve drafted some of the toughest conflict of interest laws in the country.
I’m not afraid to take on powerful interests, and in fact I’ve fought some of the most egregious interests and won. I wrote the legislation that defeated the National Rifle Association and closed the assault weapons loophole. I asked Big Tobacco to ban the marketing of tobacco products to children. I held PG&E accountable for its role in starting the wildfires. I wrote the bill that created an independent inspector general to serve as a watchdog for the Bay Area’s troubled transit system.
As Comptroller, I will review the efficiency and effectiveness of government spending. Do the billions we spend to fight homelessness have an impact? If not, why not? I will take the same approach with expenditures for education and for the prevention of forest fires and drought. These programs have vital public policy objectives and the public deserves to know if the money spent is going towards those purposes.
I will make sure corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes. I will protect the pensions that millions rely on to retire safely.
I would be honored to have your support. Visit Senatorglazer.com for more information.