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March 3, 2020 — Primary Election
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California State SenateCandidate for District 13

Photo of Josh Becker

Josh Becker

Educator/Non-Profit Director
66,428 votes (23.8%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • To be the climate leader in the State Senate
  • Ensuring that every child has access to a top quality education
  • Tackling affordability with a massive investment in affordable housing and a world class transportation system

Experience

Experience

Profession:County Commissioner/Community College Educator
Founder, Full Circle Fund (2000–current)
Founding Trustee, University of California Merced (2005–current)
Co-Founder, New Cycle Capital (2007–current)
Member, CA Workforce Development Board — Appointed position (2014–current)
Member, San Mateo Childcare Partnerships Council — Appointed position (2016–current)
CEO, Lex Machina (2011–2017)
Founder, Clean tech for Obama (2007–2008)

Education

Stanford JD/MBA, Public Management (1999)
Williams BA, History and Political Science (1991)

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters of California (4)

Describe what proposal(s) you would support to alleviate the shortage of affordable housing for all income groups in California?
Answer from Josh Becker:

I support a massive investment in affordable housing. Many of our communities are losing their middle class, teachers, nurses, support workers due to the market disruption caused by the infusion of highly paid tech workers. I want to lead the process of creating a mandate requiring that our largest employers (who are also some of the world's largest and most profitable companies) fund a unit of housing for every job they create. Additionally I support reestablishing redvelopment, a revised version of SB5 and a regional housing bond. Finally, I think it's critical that the state step into backfill impact fees on affordable housing, which can run as high as $175,000/door. 

What programs or legislation would you support to meet the water needs of all Californians?
Answer from Josh Becker:

 I have been advocate for water conservation including helping incubate and seed fund the nation’s largest water conservation organization, the public benefit Watersmart Software and the founders are supporters of my campaign We need to be sure disadvantages communities members have safe, clean and affordable, as water prices are rises at twice the price of electricity. I support the Governor Water Resilience Portfolio

I would fight to clean up polluted waterways and aquifers, go after the polluters who have bespoiled these sources of drinking water, ensure these water sources are tapped sustainably, and fight for the resources that underserved communities need to clean up their water systems. Particulate Organic carbon and nitrate runoff are major water hazards, and I would advocate for a workforce of SV engineers and hydrologists throughout the state to repair their leaky infrastructure. I think we need to reform some agricultural practices, relatively simple things like buying back unproductive or inefficient land, mandating that irrigation be done at night, and leaving some land permanently fallow could have profoundly positive effects on our supply of clean water, ensuring that all communities throughout the state have access to it. 

 

 

 

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To reach a goal of carbon neutrality by 2045, as set forth in a 2018 executive order what, if any, proposals, plans or legislation would you support?  Please be specific.
Answer from Josh Becker:

Several weeks ago I released a comprehensive plan to combat climate change, which was the product of a months long collaborative process between my campaign and 75 local and national climate leaders, from Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey to legendary San Mateo County environment activist Lennie Roberts. The plan calls for: achieving carbon neutrality in state agencies by 2030, a feebate to enable the greening of our transportation system, a green civilian conservation corp, aggressive energy targets for new buildings and, a $5 million prize for exceptional innovations in carbon negative building materials. 

According to the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, we spend over $81,000 per individual who is incarcerated.  Other than incarceration, what ways can the State address safety and justice?
Answer from Josh Becker:

 

It wasn't too long ago that the budgets for prisons was 1/3 of the UC budget, today it is more than UC, CSU and community colleges combined it's untenable and horribly inhumane. We have seen a substantial drop in crime over this generation along with a huge rise in the prison population. We have to move away from criminalizing poverty, and addiction and put more of an emphasis on social services. I also think the best thing we can do to build a future with less crime is to invest in services for new mothers and children aged 0-3, followed by universal pre k. 

From my days in law school I’ve been interested in finding new ways for data to inform to inform the legal process. I worked as CEO of a company called Lex Machina from 2012 to 2018. Lex was and is a leader in legal analytics and has helped make our justice system more data driven and transparent. We (rightly) focus on the incredible, brave work being done by progressive prosecutors like Chesa Boudin, and Larry Krasner, I believe improved legal analytics can play a critical as a tool for justice in the hands of prosecutors like them.

 

 

Who gave money to this candidate?

Contributions

Total money raised: $1,034,680

Top contributors that gave money to support the candidate, by organization:

1
California State Council of Laborers
$18,600
2
Employees of Google
$16,300
3
Employees of Ripple Labs, Inc.
$14,100
4
Cal Fire Local 2881
$14,000
5
Employees of Facebook
$11,150

More information about contributions

By State:

California 92.82%
New York 1.90%
Florida 1.10%
District of Columbia 1.03%
Other 3.15%
92.82%

By Size:

Large contributions (99.28%)
Small contributions (0.72%)
99.28%

By Type:

From organizations (29.31%)
From individuals (70.69%)
29.31%70.69%
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State.

Political Beliefs

Position Papers

Prioritize Climate Now!

Summary

The paper lays out a comprehensive agenda to combat climate change. It was a collabortative process with local and national environmental leaders, 75 of which endorsed me. 

 

 

Prioritze Climate Now!

Government Operations: The state of California has the power to be a tremendous force for good in the worldwide fight against climate change, both as a purchaser with vast market power and as proof that the world’s cleanest economy can also be its most dynamic. For decades California’s emission regulations have set the standard for our nation, and today the government of California must again answer the call and lead the way on carbon neutrality. As your State Senator, I will sponsor legislation requiring state agencies to achieve net carbon neutrality by 2030, with legitimate offsets.  While the state leads the way, I will work with municipalities and county stakeholders to achieve neutrality at the county and city levels. Our state must also utilize our singular power as a consumer to bring about the change we want to see in the climate fight. To accomplish this, we must build on AB 262 (Bonta) Buy CA Clean Act to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent on “clean” purchases (e.g., renewable energy and fuels, carbon neutral cement,  zero emission vehicles). In some cases (e.g., cement) this will send a market signal to create a product that does not exist--or is not widely used yet--which can help drive greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions in the industrial sector (the second largest source of emissions in CA).

 

Transportation: Thanks to the actions already taken by the Legislature, and more than a dozen Community Choice Aggregators, the electricity grid is on a cleaner path. We must plug our transportation system (our largest source of emissions) into that cleaner grid. I will work to implement a revenue neutral feebate measure to make polluting cars and trucks more expensive and provide an added rebate (in addition to the existing ones) to the cleanest cars and trucks. I believe that the revenue-neutral model may attract more traditionally moderate Democrats, adding a layer of political feasibility to my proposal.

 

A feebate which focuses on the cleanest 15 percent and dirtiest 15 percent, imposing no fees on the middle 70 percent, there will be very little impact on low-income residents. This feebate should also be applied to used vehicle sales and coupled with an enhanced “cash for clunkers” program to speed up the removal of gas hogs from the roads of the state. To support transportation electrification, I will work to reform our electricity markets to incentivize vehicle electrification and the build-out of a robust fast-charging network around the state; with a focus in disadvantaged communities. I will also lead efforts to transition California’s buses, trucks, heavy duty equipment, trains and ports to become fossil free.

 

I will support legislation to accelerate the building of protected bikeway infrastructure. AAA (appropriate for all abilities, 8 to 80 years) protected lane infrastructure will make micro

 

 

 

mobility an attractive and safe alternative to single occupancy vehicles.  A combination of bus-rapid transit, transit-oriented development, and sustainable micro mobility are visionary yet feasible concepts which will drastically mitigate congestion and lower air pollution.

 

Buildings: Building stock turns slowly; therefore, we need to move aggressively to set standards for new buildings. In particular, a recent study from E3 confirms that moving to electric-only buildings in CA will (i) slash GHG emissions from homes by 90 percent over three decades; (ii) save consumers money; and (iii) result in health benefits for residents from avoided gas combustion in buildings. I intend to look at how quickly we can electrify all new CA buildings through the State Building Code, and review incentives for electric equipment (e.g. heat pumps, cook tops, dryers.) or the possibility of a “feebate” model for electric equipment, further reducing the cost of electrical equipment while increasing the cost of gas alternatives. In addition, I will look at whether residents should receive notice prior to new construction or substantial renovation letting them know of the cost savings and health benefits of going fully electric. As it is, the cost savings for a 100 percent electric building (no gas) can be substantial since the resident does not need to pay for a gas line to their house. Ultimately, residential standards, especially appliance standards, should aim to phase out the use of fossil fuel gas in homes.  I would sponsor legislation requiring that the utility company (i.e., PG&E) must act quickly (within days or weeks not months) to perform required upgrades to the electrical service for any home or business owner that commits to a 100% electric building.  This “rapid upgrade” requirement will remove a major obstacle that exists today for building owners who want to upgrade to electric buildings but who are reluctant because “it takes too long” for the utility to get around to performing trenching or other required service or facility upgrades.      

 

Clean Air: Freight transportation is the single largest contributor to diesel particulate matter and nitrogen oxide emissions in California, and it disproportionately impacts low-income communities and communities of color. As your Senator, I will fight for incentives for cleaner technologies in the freight sector, the adoption of sustainable freight strategies at the local, regional and state levels, the adoption of clean truck programs, and strong policies to mitigate the impacts of dirty freight on local communities. I will seek effective and integrated policies that could deliver on the full-scale infrastructure and deployment of a zero emission or near-zero emission freight transportation system in California. In 2017, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) issued a warning that by 2020, gas-powered leaf blowers, lawn mowers, and similar equipment in the state could produce more ozone pollution than all the

 

 

 

millions of cars in California combined. It is past time to start tackling this problem. I propose a two step solution: (i) set a date (2022) by which gas powered leaf blowers and other equipment powered by two-stroke engines may no longer be sold in the State; and (ii) set a date (2025) by which gas powered leaf blowers and other equipment powered by two-stroke engines may no longer be used in the State. In addition, other tools discussed above (state carbon neutrality, feebates applied in the immediate term) can speed this transition. There are already many reasonably priced electric leaf blowers that are available. Lawn mowers and similar equipment that CARB recommends be looked at should be reviewed as well. The health benefits (particularly for the gardeners using these) and reduced smog benefits make this area ripe for action.

 

Most cities in our district measure their community wide GHG emissions every 10 years or less.  This is something that only the state can remedy in time for the solution to make a difference. I will advocate for the state to begin publishing an annual report of GHG emissions for every community of more than 75,000 people as soon as 2022 and for every community of 25,000 or more by 2024.  Further, the state should also publish the “service population” of those cities so that GHG per capita can be computed and compared across jurisdictions.

 

Farming Practices and “Ag Tech”: The recent U.S. Farm Bill contained a soil health provision (written by NRDC and other coalition partners) which pays farmers to farm in a manner that sequesters carbon. While these are initial demonstration projects, they have the innovative potential to be a significant future negative emissions source. California can help develop and refine the metrics for measuring carbon sequestration--- allowing Central Valley farmers to benefit from cap and trade funds for adopting carbon negative soil and nutrient management practices, carbon negative plant selection, and sustainable water use and reuse. I will also support policies to hold Big Ag accountable by taking proportional responsibility for reducing the air pollution caused by their unsustainable farming practices.

 

Fostering Clean Technology Innovation: California represents approximately one percent of worldwide GHG emissions. The biggest global impact we can have is to turn the focus of our world-leading innovation economy towards solving climate change. While some of the proposals above will help accomplish this, the state should focus more energy directly in this area. This includes setting “reach standards” with enough lead time that new technologies can be developed to meet them. This can also be accomplished directly by using some portion of

 

 

 

CA cap and trade funds (or other procurement funds) for one or more “prizes” to support specific solutions to seemingly intractable problems. For example, $5 million would be a small price to pay to the inventor of a scalable, durable, reasonably priced, low-carbon concrete replacement or a scalable technology to capture extra carbon emissions from smokestacks, or to economically convert captured carbon into useful products.

 

Environmental Justice: Every new environmental law should be looked at through the lens of economic justice and social equity. This includes the proposals I have made above. While some of my proposals would help communities most impacted by pollution, I recognize that they also impose costs on some communities. As such, I would look at ways to overcome barriers for low-income and disadvantaged communities; for instance, reviewing proposals for further private investment and long-term funding for zero-emissions vehicles. I will also review the possibility of allocating cap-and-trade or other funds to help reduce the transition costs on lower income communities. Equity advocates should be given an equal voice in discussions as these new rules are developed so that their concerns can be raised and addressed early in the process.   

 

Grid Sustainability: California has become a leader in fighting the causes of climate change and has significantly reduced the carbon footprint of its electric supply. Its use of solar and wind power to reduce the carbon footprint of power is commendable. Now we need to implement policies to address the consequences of climate change and protect its people and property from climate-related disasters. The unprecedented extended power outages to millions of people necessitated by the lack of resiliency in the power architecture is a mistake that should not be repeated. The current practice of using local, combustion-based, back-up generators that are typically located in low-income neighborhoods and emit pollutants that cause cancer and respiratory illnesses is problematic from health, environmental, and social justice perspectives. We can address this with micro grids and distributed energy resources which provide reliable, clean backup power in the case of emergencies.

 

The need to deal with the resiliency of the grid becomes even more critical as we deal with the consequences of climate change. The science indicates that natural disasters will be more intense, frequent and ubiquitous with time. Wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes, extreme heat and cold that we are experiencing globally are a harbinger of what is to come.

 

 

 

Green Civilian Conservation Corp: I believe in the intent and principles of the “Green New Deal”, and as State Senator, I will look to implement those intents and principles into California laws and regulations. That said, to me a Green New Deal is not complete without a green civilian conservation corp. I would financially encourage cities and state agencies to create public private partnerships and provide paid internship opportunities in green economy companies, public works, renewable energy, and similar sectors, for youth, with a focus on students from disadvantaged communities.    

 


Protecting Community Choice: In order to ensure that innovative approaches to clean energy can be adopted at the local level we must protect Community Choice Aggregators from regulatory and legislative attacks from investor owned utilities. I will vigorously oppose efforts by monopolistic utilities to limit the authority of CCAs or to make them less viable.

 

 

 

Videos (2)

— January 30, 2020 Campaign

This video details th recognition with a Jefferson award of my activism on education, climate and income inequality.

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