By Ben Christopher | CALmatters
California may face its share of thorny policy problems and political conflicts, but for Republican gubernatorial candidate Travis Allen, the solutions are actually “very simple.”
That’s been one of the Huntington Beach Assemblyman’s favorite responses to policy questions on the campaign trail—an unofficial slogan verging on verbal tic. But it also offers a look at how he thinks about the challenges facing California and how he would approach the job of the state’s top elected official.
During a visit to CALmatters afternoon, he offered what he labels simple solutions to a number of seemingly complex issues.
Take the sky-high cost of rent in California. “Very simply, build more housing in California,” he said.
Allen argues that the state can unleash a wave of new construction by cutting environmental impact fees and reforming the California Environmental Quality Act. Rejecting proposed legislation to override local zoning rules, he said that the state needs to give even more authority to locals—and promises that this will result in one million new units built by the end of his first term.
What about closing the academic achievement gap between privileged and disadvantaged students in California’s public schools? Another easy one, says Allen.
“I believe, very simply, that when you get competition for education dollars you get better outcomes for our students at lower price points.” To him that means more support for charter schools and potentially allowing parents to use publicly-funded vouchers to pay private school tuition.
And how should lawmakers prepare the state budget for the next recession? “I’ll tell you very simply: We start off by cutting those taxes and cutting those regulations.” According to Allen, making the economy more business-friendly and allowing for more natural resource extraction like offshore oil drilling and timber harvesting will make the state economy more resilient to swings in the business cycle.
Allen may be politically out of sync with the majority of Californians on issues including climate change, health care and immigration, but his unflinching confidence and his bullet point approach to policy prescription are a prime reason he has such a fervent following among many of the state’s conservatives. Despite what you might have heard, according to Allen, there are in fact easy answers—other politicians are just too myopic or beholden to special interests to tell you so.
Other seemingly intractable issues that Allen dispatched with quick-fix proposals include eliminating California’s “out of control bureaucracies” (nix the California Air Resources Board), ensuring water reliability (build more water storage facilities “up and down the state”), making college more affordable (a tuition freeze for all of California’s public universities), and getting people without homes off the street (place the chronically homeless in state-run mental institutions that are improvements over the facilities of the past.)
And then there were the handful of issues especially simple to address because, according to Allen, they simply do not exist.
Asked about a recent survey that found 41 percent of California State University students report struggling with the cost of food, Allen called the findings “a complete lie.”
“If I can go down to Taco Bell or McDonalds and feed myself for a dollar, there is no such thing as food insecurity in California,” he said. “When we see college kids with the latest iPhone that are complaining that they can’t afford something to eat, clearly they’re prioritizing their spending in the wrong direction.”
About the threat of rising sea levels, which a new state report says could result in more flooding in Allen’s hometown of Huntington Beach, Allen called it “absolute nonsense” and “bogus science.”
Much like President Trump, whom Allen supported in 2016 campaign, unlike his Republican rival, John Cox, the assemblyman does not sweat the contradictory evidence.
Confidence may not be enough to win over the majority of the state’s voters—or even enough to get past the state’s top two primary. According to a new poll released yesterday from the Public Policy Institute of California, only 10 percent of likely voters support Allen. That places him four points behind Cox and fourth among all the candidates.
Asked if he thought the poll might be wrong, Allen didn’t skip a beat: “Very simply put, absolutely.”
CALmatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California’s policies and politics.
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