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Tuesday June 5, 2018 — California Primary Election
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State of CaliforniaCandidate for Governor

Photo of John Chiang

John Chiang

California State Treasurer
655,590 votes (9.4%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • I will tackle California’s affordable housing crisis, including putting a roof over the heads of an additional 4 million low-income and middle-class Californians.
  • I will restore public education through free universal early childhood education, reducing class sizes, increasing per-pupil funding, providing 2 years of free community college, and reducing UC and CSU tuition by more than 40%.
  • I will stand up to the dangerous policies coming out of Washington and protect jobs here in California, invest in our crumbling roads and bridges, make health care more affordable, defend our immigrants, and continue the fight against climate change.



Profession:California State Treasurer
State Treasurer, State of California — Elected position (2015–current)
State Controller, State of California — Elected position (2007–2015)
Board Member, California State Board of Equalization — Elected position (1999–2007)
Board Member, California State Board of Equalization — Appointed position (1997–1999)


Georgetown University Law Center Juris Doctorate (JD) (1987)
University of South Florida Bachelor of Arts (BA), Finance (1984)

Who supports this candidate?

Questions & Answers

Questions from KQED and League of Women Voters of California Education Fund (5)

There is a shortage of affordable housing in California. How would you approach addressing California’s housing crisis? Please include specific proposals.
Answer from John Chiang:

It’s simply unaffordable to live in California anymore. A third of our state’s renters spend more than half of their earnings on housing costs. California is home to 12 percent of the nation’s population and 22 percent of the nation’s homeless. In a public survey last year, 60 percent of Californians said housing costs have forced their children and close friends to move away – and shockingly, a full 40 percent said they have someone in their immediate circle living on the streets. That’s why I’ve made affordable housing such an important priority in my time as Treasurer and in my campaign for governor. California needs to get serious about fixing our affordable housing crisis.


I’m already taking steps to address affordable housing right now. As Treasurer, I overhauled my office’s affordable housing programs, leading to an 80 percent increase in the number of homes built or rehabilitated since 2014. I also helped lead the coalition last year to fight for an affordable housing bond, and advocated for SB 2 and SB 3, placing a $4 billion housing bond on the ballot in 2018. But that $4 billion is just a down payment for what our state really needs.


I strongly believe we need to look at this issue holistically—from land use, to bonding authority, to redevelopment agencies, to housing development—if we’re going to solve this issue. Rent control needs to be a part of our affordable housing strategy, too. However, California is short an incredible 1.5 million units of affordable housing. We need to fix the supply issue if we want to stabilize and bring down housing costs. That’s why, within the decade, my goal is to place a roof over the heads of an additional four million low- and moderate-income Californians by investing additional public resources into affordable housing production and doubling local government permitting activity for all types of housing.


I’m running for Governor because I’m proud of my record fighting for creative and effective solutions to improve the lives of California families. I have consistently fought to protect California’s economy and build a better future for working people, so that all our kids have the opportunity to achieve their American Dream. This is one of those instances where California could benefit from my nearly 20 years of experience and my record of finding fiscally responsible ways to improve the lives of Californians.

California has some of the richest people in the country and some of the poorest. What would you do to reduce income inequality in California?
Answer from John Chiang:

California needs a governor with a proven track record of fighting for working families.


Look at my record. I stood up to Gov. Schwarzenegger when he tried to reduce the salaries of state employees to the minimum wage. I withheld the pay of our state lawmakers when they failed to pass a balanced budget on time, as required by the state constitution. And when Wells Fargo ripped off millions of Americans, I held them accountable for their predatory practices and cut them off from their most profitable line of business with the state.


1)    We need to protect working families and their ability to provide for their families. . I proudly supported the Fight for $15 because every worker deserves to earn a living wage. It’s time we close the wage gap, ensure equal pay for equal work, expand paid family leave, and raise wages so workers can afford to care for their families. I also support expanding childcare and universal free early childhood education.

2)    Tackling Affordable Housing- One third of our state’s renters spend more than half of their earnings on housing, and those statistics are much worse for communities of color. We must think big and act boldly to address a problem that has metastasized from a crisis to an economic and humanitarian crisis. Every Californian has a right to an affordable, decent place to call home.

3)    Making Higher Education Affordable Again- Higher education creates ladders of opportunities for individuals to achieve their dreams and escape poverty. Unfortunately, the ability to afford higher education is becoming increasingly difficult for California families. As governor, I will fight to cut UC and CSU tuition by more than 40 percent over the next decade for in-state residents. My plan also calls for all Californians to have access to two free years of community college, and prioritizes Californians in the enrollment process for public colleges and universities.

4)    Protecting Retirement Security- Nearly half of California’s workers are on track to retire with incomes below 200%  of the federal poverty level. For this reason, I was one of the chief architects of Secure Choice, now called CalSavers, the most ambitious push to expand retirement security since the passage of Social Security in the 1930s. Despite efforts by the current Trump-era Congress to block CalSavers, as governor I will continue to push back and forge ahead with implementing this critical retirement savings plan for 7.5 million individuals.


California has tough issues we need to tackle. I have a proven track record of delivering concrete solutions to our state’s fiscal challenges. If California is going to continue to lead on the issues we care about, we need a governor who can manage our money. Voters can trust that I not only have a progressive vision, but you can also trust me to manage the world's sixth largest economy and fight to protect California's working people.

Currently there isn't enough money in the state retirement system to pay for all the benefits promised to government workers. What would you do as Governor to address the state’s unfunded pension liability?
Answer from John Chiang:

After a lifetime of hard work, every Californian deserves a secure retirement.


I strongly support defined-benefit pension plans for all workers, especially public employees who sacrifice higher wages in the private sector to serve our communities. I reject the idea that pensions are a thing of the past, and that lawmakers need to make a false choice between either increasing taxes to fund retirement benefits or else get rid of pensions altogether for public employees. That’s why, as an ex-officio board member, I’ve fought to protect benefits and improve the financial stability of the CalPERS and CalSTRS systems.


At a time when more and more Californians are facing an uncertain and unsecure retirement, we can’t exacerbate the problem by taking away pensions. Instead, we need to create a secure retirement for everyone. That’s why I helped create and now chair the CalSavers (Secure Choice) program, so that workers without a pension on the job still have access to a secure retirement. CalSavers has been described as the most significant change to retirement savings since Social Security was enacted in the 1930s, and will help up to 7.5 million Californians save for their retirement— with almost no cost to the state.


That’s not to say that we should avoid the tough questions about how to put our public pension systems on sounder footing. Those issues are absolutely necessary if we want to protect defined benefit pension plans in the future. But we cannot replace defined benefits plans with 401(k) defined contribution plans, which were only ever meant to be a supplemental way for workers to save for retirement. As someone who has held all three of the state's elected financial positions, and as a board member of our state public pension systems, I have a strong record of fighting to protect public pension benefits. I believe it is a moral imperative to ensure all seniors can retire with dignity. As governor, I will tackle these issues with the same sensible fiscal solutions I’ve offered my entire career.

How would you describe your feelings about charter schools? Are you in favor of any changes in the way the state governs charter schools?
Answer from John Chiang:

Whether we like it or not, charter schools are here to stay. The best charters provide a laboratory for experimentation and allow students and parents to explore varied educational options not provided in the mainstream public schools. Some charters do an outstanding job of preparing students for college—just as traditional schools and magnets do.


However, charter schools are public schools. They need to be transparent and held accountable in the same way that traditional schools are. Charter schools should be subject to the Brown Act and state conflict of interest standards. Charter schools must be operated in the interest of the students of the district as a whole; we must avoid creating a two-tiered educational system where all of the most motivated and ambitious families abandon traditional schools. Charter schools should remain neutral and not oppose efforts by its employees to form or join a union if they so choose. At the same time, school districts must recognize the innovative education opportunities charters provide and work to offer the same types of programs and alternatives.


In the end, we want every student to have an equal opportunity to pursue their dreams. As governor, I will continue to boldly lead on this issue and do whatever it takes to bring transparency, accountability and fairness to California’s charter schools.

California and the federal government have disagreed about enforcement of immigration laws. Do you support California’s current ‘Sanctuary State’ law? If not, why not? Are there additional strategies that you would pursue as Governor?
Answer from John Chiang:

My parents came to this country with virtually nothing, dreaming of a better future for their family. My father came here with just three shirts, two pairs of pants, and hardly anything in his pocket. And despite the taunts and the ugly racial slurs, my family never gave up believing in the American Dream— just like the millions of other immigrants that come to this country believing in that dream.


California has long paved the way in the national battle for immigrant rights.


I supported SB 54, California’s sanctuary state bill, and I will defend it as governor. I strongly believe it is not the job of our state, county and local law enforcement officers to turn the cogs on President Trump’s deportation machine. I will explore all legal routes and provide legal assistance to ensure all individuals have access to legal defense. We can’t let the federal government tear families apart and build walls to separate us.


And we must fight to keep this country’s promise to Dreamers — like the young woman on my staff, who joined our campaign as an intern from UCLA. We were able to hire her after she graduated. Now Dreamers are back in legal limbo because of President Trump. Congress must protect our DACA kids and pass a Dream Act.


As governor, I will fight for Congress to adopt a long-term solution to fix our broken immigration system. First and foremost, we need an immigration reform plan that gives immigrants a path to citizenship. We can’t keep workers in a temporary status forever. For those immigrants working in our country through a guest worker visa, many are shackled to their abusive employers for fear that that their visa may be revoked. Immigrants should have the right to report abuses from their employers and to change jobs without risking their visa status or risk deportation. We must do more to fix the system so we’re not creating and perpetuating a permanent subclass of marginalized immigrant workers.

Who gave money to this candidate?


Total money raised: $5,171,423

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

Panda Restaurant Group Incorporated and employees
MWM Global Holdings
Northern California Carpenters Regional Council
Employees of ThinkTank Learning
United Nurses Associations of California Union of Health Care Professionals

More information about contributions

By State:

California 90.72%
New York 3.43%
Nevada 1.36%
District of Columbia 0.92%
Other 3.58%

By Size:

Large contributions (97.64%)
Small contributions (2.36%)

By Type:

From organizations (32.59%)
From individuals (67.41%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State.

Videos (3)

— May 5, 2018 John Chiang for Governor 2018
— May 5, 2018 John Chiang for Governor 2018
— May 5, 2018 John Chiang for Governor 2018

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