July 30, 2018

Issues

When we stand together, we, the people, have the power to transform our nation.

Our campaign platform is a collaborative statement that has been developed over the course of several months as we traveled across our district listening to local people at town halls, public events, house parties, and personal conversations. This platform, created by the people of Florida’s 8th district, articulates a clear vision for a future in which all of us can thrive. Let’s work together to make it possible.

Healthcare

Making healthcare a human right is a moral imperative in the richest country in the history of the world. By ensuring every American has healthcare, we can begin to build a system that not only cares for the sick, but emphasizes health and wellness for all.

Florida’s healthcare system currently ranks 48th in the nation. 2.6 million Floridians, including over 91,000 in our district, have no health insurance; and millions more cannot afford their co-pays and deductibles.  Our healthcare system is also the most expensive in the world; in 2016, the U.S. spent 17.8% of GDP on healthcare while the average for all high-income countries was 11.5% of GDP.  Despite our spending, life expectancy in the US is the lowest of all high-income countries.

Sanjay supports:

  • making healthcare a human right for every American;
  • decreasing prescription drug prices by expanding access to imports and generics, and improving our ability to negotiate prices through a single-payer system;
  • expanding mental health, dental and vision care coverage;
  • investing in treatment to address America’s opioid epidemic; and
  • decreasing the total cost of America’s healthcare system by adopting Medicare for All.

As Congressman, Sanjay will work to make healthcare a right for every American by supporting Medicare for All.

Economy & Jobs

Let’s build an economy that generates healthy communities and businesses, in which all of us have opportunities to thrive and prosper. As our space, technology, and renewable energy opportunities expand, let’s ensure our economy also works for those who improve our community’s quality of life, including public servants like teachers, firefighters, police, and people who work in the service industry.

We must ensure that housing prices and cost of living don’t become ridiculously out of reach for working people. Already, too many have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet.

In our area,  poverty, child poverty, and SNAP enrollment have all risen significantly - while home ownership has fallen in Brevard, Indian River and Orange County. The United Way estimates that 34% of people in Brevard, and 40% of people in Indian River County are already unable to meet their basic needs - including housing, childcare and transportation. Florida now ranks 3rd in the nation for the percentage of renters who spend more than half of their income on rent.  

Florida ranks #2 in the nation in income inequality; the top 1% have an average annual income of $1.54M, nearly 40 times as much as the bottom 99%, who make an average of $39,094 annually. In our district, the Vero Beach-Sebastian metropolitan area ranks #4 in the nation for income inequality, with the top 1% earning over 67 times the average income of the bottom 99%.

Sanjay supports:

  • job creation in the aerospace and renewable energy industries to ensure our region remains America’s gateway to the stars and to the future;
  • a livable $15 minimum wage within 7 years, indexed to keep up with inflation;
  • policies that help small businesses launch, compete fairly, and thrive - including tax incentives and/or wage subsidies specifically for small businesses to support the transition to an increased minimum wage;
  • fair trade policies that protect American jobs and working people;
  • equal pay for equal work;
  • paid sick and family leave; and
  • the right to unionize and collectively bargain.

As Congressman, Sanjay will work to build a thriving economy that works for all of us.

Environment

The people of our district are deeply concerned about the health of our Indian River Lagoon and about how climate change and sea level rise will impact our coastal district.  With 32 tons of fish killed in our lagoon, loss of 80% of the value of our commercial shellfish harvest, and storm waters testing the limits of our infrastructure, residents are quickly realizing that we must stand together to preserve this beautiful place we call home.

Sanjay supports:

  • preservation of our environment, including restoration of the Indian River Lagoon and the Everglades;
  • a Green New Deal that would put millions of Americans to work sustainably rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and converting our economy to 100% renewable energy;
  • preparing our coastline for sea level rise;
  • protecting the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA);
  • a carbon tax to compensate for the true cost of fossil fuels; and
  • making policy and infrastructure investments based on science, including the overwhelming evidence that humans are the main cause of climate change.

As Congressman, Sanjay will work to protect our air, our water, our land, and our wildlife.

Education

Our economy depends on the expansion of an educated workforce, and our democracy requires an educated and well-informed electorate. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”

Currently, Florida ranks 45th in average teacher salary, 42nd in 8th grade math scores, and 46th on student loan default rate.  Eastern Florida State College ranks among the highest default rates in the state - #162 out of 189 schools - with a default rate of 19.68%; Indian River State College is just behind at #164. Our state ranks 3rd in the nation for percentage of high schools with a graduation rate of under 67%, and we are one of twelve states that graduates fewer than 70% of black students.

Sanjay supports:

  • quality, equitable public schools that are accountable to our communities;
  • curriculum reform to deemphasize high-stakes standardized testing and emphasize STEM classes as well as social and emotional development;
  • increasing teacher salaries to compensate them fairly for the skills and service they provide to our community;
  • directing public funds to public schools instead of diverting them to unaccountable, for-profit, charter schools;
  • reducing interest rates on student loans; and
  • the right of every American to pursue a publicly-funded college degree or trade school certification without incurring a lifetime of burdensome student debt.

As Congressman, Sanjay will work to ensure that every American has the right to a quality, equitable, publicly-funded education from pre-K through college or trade school.

Campaign Finance

We need to get big money out of politics so that our democracy belongs to us - and not to big businesses and billionaires.  That’s why our campaign is funded by the people, not corporate PACs.

Researchers from Princeton University recently performed statistical analysis which demonstrated that “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups...have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” The Sunlight Foundation found that between 2007 and 2012, 200 politically active corporations spent $5.8 billion on campaign contributions and federal lobbying, and in turn received nearly $4.4 trillion from the government, or nearly $760 for every dollar spent on political influence.  Since the candidate with the most money wins 91% of the time, elected officials now spend 30-70% of their time in office fundraising for re-election.

Sanjay supports:

  • publicly-funded elections;
  • ending lobbyist bundling and dark money from PACs;
  • making all donations immediately visible on the internet;
  • preventing politicians from fundraising during working hours;
  • closing the revolving door between elected officials and lobbyists; and
  • improving enforcement of anti-corruption laws.

As Congressman, Sanjay will refuse corporate PAC money and support efforts to get big money out of politics.  He will represent the people of our district, not special interests.

Justice System Reform

The people of Florida’s 8th district believe in second chances, and are tired of wasting money on incarceration that could be more effectively spent on rehabilitation.

2.3 million people are incarcerated in America; we have the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. Costs for public corrections agencies alone exceed $80B annually - a cost of $250 every year for every American. Florida’s incarceration rate is even higher than the US average, and systemic incarceration disproportionately impacts black Floridians.  There are 626 white inmates for every 100,000 white Floridians, but 2,555 black inmates out of every 100,000 black Floridians.

Sanjay supports:

  • decreasing incarceration rates for non-violent offenders through civil citations, diversion programs, and the elimination of mandatory minimums;
  • ending for-profit prisons and the school-to-prison pipeline;
  • abolishing the death penalty;
  • legalizing and taxing marijuana;
  • paying law enforcement fairly to support retention of our best officers and providing intensive officer training that encourages community policing;
  • fixing bail systems that unfairly punish the poor;
  • second chances and restoration of civil rights for former felons; and
  • ending police brutality, selective enforcement, and bias in sentencing against communities of color.

As Congressman, Sanjay will work to reform our justice system to end mass incarceration and overcriminalization of non-violent offenses.

Social Security & Medicare

Social Security and Medicare are essential to our community.  It’s imperative that we protect these programs for current contributors and future generations.They provide important benefits to millions of retirees, orphans, widow(er)s, disabled workers and their dependents;

Nationally, almost 62 million people receive social security benefits.  Fifteen percent of the nation's population relies on Medicare for health security. As baby boomers turn 65, enrollment will reach 64 million in 2020 and 80 million in 2030.  In Florida, over 4.5 million people, or more than one in every 5 residents, collected Social Security benefits in December 2017 and over 4.1 million Floridians are enrolled in Medicare plans.  In our district alone, 213,950 people people receive income from Social Security and 191,502 people are eligible for Medicare benefits.

Sanjay supports:

  • protecting and expanding Social Security and Medicare benefits;
  • eliminating the cap on taxable income for Social Security;
  • protecting Social Security and Medicare from privatization; and
  • adjusting benefit levels on an ongoing basis to keep up with inflation.

As Congressman, Sanjay will work to protect and expand Social Security and Medicare.

Gun Safety

The people of Florida’s 8th district are heartbroken by the gun violence plaguing our schools, our state and our nation. We need our elected officials to take action.

In 2016, 2,704 people were killed by firearms in Florida, including 1,672 suicides and 992 homicides. 105 children were killed, and 375 visited the emergency room for non-fatal gunshot wounds. Most Americans, regardless of party, support common-sense gun reforms. In Florida, 96% of voters support requiring background checks for all gun buyers, and 87% support a waiting period before buying a gun. 62% of Florida voters support a ban on assault weapons.

Sanjay supports:

  • universal background checks;
  • research into the public health epidemic that has made gun violence one of the leading causes of death in our country;
  • closing the gun show loophole;
  • keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers;
  • banning large-capacity ammunition and weapons built for mass lethality rather than sport or personal protection; and
  • ensuring that guns aren’t more affordable and accessible than mental healthcare in our country; the vast majority of firearm deaths in our state and across our country are suicides.

As Congressman, Sanjay will support gun safety laws that are guided by the Constitution, common sense and compassion.

Veterans & Military Families

Our government has a moral obligation to take great care of those who have put their lives on the line to protect and defend our country. Our veterans and service members are part of a sacred covenant; a covenant that says to anyone who decides to put their life on the line in protection of our country and our people, that we will make sure that they and their families will be taken care of while they are deployed, when they return, and when they retire.

There are 20.4 million veterans in the US, 1,525,400 in Florida, and 79,083 in our congressional district.  More than nine million veterans are served each year by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Because Sanjay's wife, Stacey, grew up in an enlisted Air Force family that at times relied on government nutrition assistance to get by, poverty among military families is a particularly poignant issue for their family. Almost 1 in 4 children at DOD schools are eligible for free meals, and about 23,000 active-duty service members across the country rely on SNAP benefits  (formerly food stamps). In 2016, military families spent $67M in food stamps at commissaries.  

3.9 million veterans—more than 1 in 5—are living paycheck to paycheck at 200 percent of or less than the federal poverty level. 1.5 million veterans, nationally, and 124,000 in Florida, participate in SNAP.  On a single night in January 2017, 40,056 veterans were homeless. 20 veterans commit suicide every day.

Sanjay supports:

  • paying service members fairly so military families don’t have to struggle to make ends meet while they are serving our country;
  • fully funding and protecting the VA from privatization;
  • expanding mental health services for active duty and veterans;
  • preserving all benefits of the post-9/11 GI bill; and
  • protecting the pensions and benefits of those who protect our country.

As Congressman, Sanjay will work to ensure that service members are paid fairly, and to fully fund the VA so that veterans get the quality care they deserve.

Immigration

The people of Florida’s 8th district support humane immigration policies that honor America’s legacy as a nation of immigrants. Our district is home to many immigrant populations and our economy relies on immigrant employees, including our citrus, agricultural, construction, healthcare, defense and aerospace industries. Congress has for too long shirked its duty to implement comprehensive immigration reform.

Florida has the fourth largest immigrant population in the country with almost 4 million immigrants. An estimated 829,000 undocumented immigrants and 26,430 Dreamers reside in Florida. 70% of Americans support allowing DACA recipients to remain in the US. In 2014, undocumented immigrants in Florida contributed $211.6M to Medicare, $857.3M to Social Security, $406.9M to state and local taxes and $882.4M to federal taxes without receiving the benefits of citizenship. It’s estimated that undocumented immigrants in Florida contribute $1,500 more in taxes than they receive in public benefits each year.

Sanjay supports:

  • comprehensive immigration reform that creates safe, expeditious pathways to legal immigration, protects national security, and secures the economic and cultural benefits of immigration;  
  • protecting the Dreamers through a Clean Dream Act that offers DACA recipients a path to citizenship;
  • ensuring safe and humane treatment of those who come to our country seeking asylum and searching for a better life;
  • reunifying separated families immediately and ensuring that families not be separated during the immigration or asylum process;
  • reducing spending on unnecessary detention of non-criminal immigrants and applicants for asylum; and
  • launching a Congressional inquiry into allegations of human rights abuses by ICE.

As Congressman, Sanjay will work to reform America’s immigration policies to ensure that we protect Americans, but even more importantly, that we protect what it means to be an American.

Equality

All people must be afforded equal rights, protections, and opportunities, and the freedom to nurture their families in safe and healthy environments free from fear, oppression, and persecution, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, wealth, national origin, or disability.

In Florida and across the US, systemic injustice and discrimination persist. Median income of non-Hispanic white households ($51,800) still exceeds black households ($34,300) in Florida by 50%.  In the US, women are paid only 80% of what men are paid - Black women only 63%, and Hispanic women only 54%.  84,254 charges of workplace discrimination were filed with the EEOC in 2017 alone, resulting in $398 million in settlements for victims.

Sanjay supports:

  • protecting the rights asserted in the Declaration of Independence, and the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights;
  • ensuring that all people have the freedom to make essential life choices with regard to love, work, healthcare, shelter, nourishment, and family planning, that are not inhibited or curtailed by bias or systemic injustice;
  • equal pay for equal work;
  • respecting the rich diversity that makes our country great;
  • policies that protect the rights of women, and all of us, to make our own healthcare decisions;
  • defending the rights of people of color, women, immigrants, the disabled, the poor, the LGBTQ community, and all those who face oppression;
  • ensuring that every American is protected and prepared as much as possible for natural disasters, and is treated with respect, fairness, and compassion in their aftermath; and
  • protecting all people from abuse, discrimination, and harassment.

As Congressman, Sanjay will listen to, and represent, all residents of our district.  Sanjay commits to regular in-person town halls that are open to the public where all voices in our community can be heard, regardless of political party or perspective.

Renewable Energy & Infrastructure

It’s time for America to invest in a bold, comprehensive plan to sustainably rebuild our country’s crumbling infrastructure while migrating our economy to renewable energy sources. The renewable energy industry has the potential to provide millions of new jobs for Americans, while also helping our environment.

In 2017, only 18% of all US electricity was produced by renewable sources, but by 2020 “all...renewable power generation technologies…. are expected to fall…. at the lower end of undercutting fossil fuels.” Simultaneously, in Florida 15% of our bridges are at least 50 years old and we are home to 7 of the top 100 traffic congested cities in the U.S., costing drivers $8.75 billion in 2014 alone. Our demand for clean water is projected to increase by about 20% by 2030, when Floridians are projected to use 7.7 billion gallons of freshwater per day. In addition, due to decades of underinvestment, $1.1 billion must be invested by 2019 to repair Florida’s stormwater and drainage systems, an amount that is expected to double within a decade.  

Given the falling cost of renewable energy, new developments in sustainable design, and the simultaneous need for substantive infrastructure investments across our state and country, Sanjay supports:

  • a national Green New Deal that puts millions of Americans to work to sustainably redesign and rebuild our crumbling roads, bridges, drinking water, sewer, stormwater, electrical, energy, and mass transit systems - and convert our economy to 100% renewable energy;
  • tax incentives for people and businesses who adopt more sustainable, renewable alternatives to fossil fuels including electric vehicles, solar homes, mass transit, etc.;
  • reinstating net neutrality and ensuring broadband internet access across the US, especially in rural areas;
  • ensuring our infrastructure and FEMA are as prepared as possible to prevent and quickly respond to natural disasters;
  • transitioning our country’s infrastructure to 100% renewable energy by 2035 to reduce ongoing operational costs, decrease our dependence on foreign oil, and mitigate the risks of climate change and sea level rise.

As Congressman, Sanjay will work toward a sustainable, renewable, cost-effective future for America’s infrastructure.

Tax Fairness

Large corporations and the wealthiest Americans should pay their fair share.

Massive tax cuts passed in 2017 are benefiting the wealthy at the expense of working people. Businesses that received big tax breaks are buying back stock rather than paying their employees fair wages, and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has projected that $1.9 trillion dollars will be added to the national deficit over the next ten years. That’s not fiscal responsibility.

A recent study found that nearly 40% of Fortune 500 companies that were consistently profitable from 2008-2015 claimed $527 billion in tax subsidies and paid $0 in federal income taxes in at least one of those years. Five companies — AT&T, Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan Chase, Verizon, and IBM — received over $130 billion in tax breaks during the eight-year period.

Florida ranks 49th in the nation in terms of state and local tax fairness; the lowest earners pay more than six times the tax rate of our state’s highest earners. A family that earns less than $17,000 pays nearly 13% in taxes, while a family that earns $489,000 pays less than 2% of their income in taxes. Corporations, too, pay a far lower tax rate than working people in Florida. Our state’s corporate tax rate is only 5.5%, and the vast majority of corporations are exempt.

Sanjay supports:

  • a tax system that ensures corporations and the wealthiest individuals pay their fair share;
  • simplifying our tax code to ensure that loopholes for the top 1% don’t result in higher taxes for the middle class;
  • removing the cap on taxable income for Social Security;
  • closing tax loopholes and taxing Wall Street transactions;
  • eliminating tax breaks for companies including big oil, gas and coal companies, so that the savings can be used to fund a Green New Deal that converts our economy to renewable energy sources;
  • ensuring corporations pay the costs of any damage they do to our environment, and for their disproportionate benefit from taxpayer-funded infrastructure and public services such as roads, schools, law enforcement, etc.
  • ending rules that enable companies to dodge and defer taxes by setting up offshore subsidiaries or PO boxes in a tax haven countries; and
  • reforming the estate tax to progressively tax the top 0.3% of inheritances that are larger than $3.5 million.

As Congressman, Sanjay will support fair tax policies that simplify our tax code, and ensure hard-working Americans and small business owners don’t foot the bill for America’s biggest businesses and billionaires.

Peace & Security

The many soldiers, veterans and military families in our district understand the true cost of war, and want to ensure that the many sons and daughters who serve our country are only sent into harm’s way as a last resort.  Peace, wherever possible, is truly our best protection.  We must earn the respect, trust, and cooperation of the international community by demonstrating our country’s commitment to democracy, freedom, opportunity, and justice for all.

America has the largest, best-funded military on the planet. The budget for our military in 2019 will be $716 billion - an $82 billion increase from 2017.  We spend more on defense than the next seven countries combined.  Instead of massive investments in wars on foreign soil, let’s invest in innovation domestically and in building friendships and relationships abroad so we, together, can confront the global challenges of our present and future, including climate change, water scarcity, and cybersecurity.

Sanjay supports:

  • seeking peaceful solutions wherever possible, using diplomacy and international cooperation to maintain global security, and ensuring war is a last resort;
  • moving away from policies that favor unilateral military action and preemptive war;
  • ensuring Congressional oversight of Executive use of military force;
  • identifying clear objectives and working in coalition with our global allies and partners whenever armed conflict is authorized by Congress;
  • investing in cybersecurity measures to protect our democracy and our economy from foreign and domestic threats;
  • combating climate change, which threatens the security of our country and the rest of the world;
  • ensuring that our country’s values guide our efforts to defend national security; and
  • expanding our global influence and earning the respect of the global community by demonstrating America’s commitment to democratic values, promoting fair trade, protecting human rights, providing humanitarian aid, and honoring our nation’s agreements, treaties and accords.

As Congressman, Sanjay will pursue diplomatic solutions wherever possible, will  vote for military intervention only when absolutely necessary, and will work to cultivate peace in our communities, our country, and our world.