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June 7, 2016 — California Primary Election
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California State AssemblyCandidate for District 43

Photo of Dennis R. Bullock

Dennis R. Bullock

4,294 votes (4.1%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Water: California needs to return to a supply-based solution to our water issues by tapping water sources outside of our region, even as we rightly continue to focus upon conservation and recylcling. Ours must be a holistic approach. We have tapped
  • Education Funding: I have proposed an innovative plan to accentuate school funding by allowing school districts to develop their own, unique “lists of need” (especially to fulfill extra-budgetary needs—needs they cannot fulfill within the normal budg
  • Minimum Wage: I believe in an incremental, statewide increase to $15 per hour. However, I believe it is important to offer targeted and temporaty tax incentives to small- and medium-sized businesses to assist with the additional labor costs the wage



Profession:High School Educator and former Dean of Students at Providence High School in Burbank, CA.
Teacher, Providence High School (2004–current)


Claremont Graduate University MA, Politics (2012)
Georgetown University Certificate: James Madison Memorial Fellowship, 2011 California Representative, Origins and Make-Up of the United States Constitution (2012)
University of Southern California BA with Honors, Political Science (2003)
University of Southern California BA with Honors, Communication (2003)


I was born at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank on Mother’s Day, 1970 and spent my first 18-plus years growing up in Silver Lake and Atwater Village. I attended kindergarten at Ivanhoe Elementary in Silver Lake, grade school at St. Casimir (now Holy Trinity) in Los Feliz, and Providence High School in Burbank. I am a proud graduate of the University of Southern California, earning BAs with honors in both Political Science and Communication, and of Claremont Graduate University, where I earned a Master’s in Politics.

I have been married to my wonderful wife, Mary (a UCLA grad who helped put me through USC—now that’s dedication!), for over 16 years and we have two beautiful children—Bella is 12, and Henry is seven. Both attend public school in Burbank.

I have practical, real world experience. I’ve worked hard to provide for my family—at AT&T right out of high school for five years, at Airtouch Cellular (now Verizon) for three, and at USC as a PA announcer for the athletic department (2001-2007) while working other jobs to put myself through school. Most recently, I have spent the last nearly 12 years teaching and serving as Dean of Students (for four years) at my alma mater, Providence High School—right next door to the hospital in which I was born. I have a wonderful life.

Why am I Running?

The 43rd District is my home. I care about it, and want to make sure it remains an ideal place in which my children can grow up, be educated and live—now and far into the future. I have ideas—good, innovative and thought-provoking ideas that I believe, if implemented, will make our state and our district even better. Who better to champion these ideas than me? What better time to champion them than now?

Our community is a dynamic and robust place to live and work. At the core of this district’s many strengths is its diversity—a source of unmatched strength and potential. Some 140 different languages are spoken in Los Angeles County—the most in the world. People of nearly every creed, color and nationality live here. The 43rd District’s population is representative of this diversity with a multitude of nationalities, religions and groups living together in ways that are an example to the world. Our community has accomplished much: life here is vibrant, the economy is strong—we are the entertainment hub of the world—and our collective values shine like a beacon to communities everywhere.

My own family reflects this diversity. I am at least a fifth generation Californian and a direct descendant of Joseph (known when he arrived as José) Mascarel, a French émigré who arrived in 1844 and made his life in Los Angeles, eventually becoming mayor from 1864 to 1865. My wife is Armenian-American. Her parents emigrated in the mid- and late 1960s from Bulgaria via Lebanon under the auspices of the ANCHA (American National Committee for Homeless Armenians). Mary’s parents spoke no English when they arrived. Through hard work and determination, they made a successful and prosperous life in this community.

I was, and remain, amazed at their story. Indeed, as a tribute to my wife and her parents who I admire greatly, I wrote my political science honors thesis in 2002/2003 on the history and need for a common acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide.

The 43rd District is all about diversity, opportunity and solid values. We live in an ideal spot on this planet. And, yet, there is potential to accomplish even more and to make this community even better going forward. As a life-long member of this community who has practical, real world experience, I believe I am positioned well to serve effectively.

Questions & Answers

Questions from The League of Women Voters of California Education Fund and California Counts, a public media collaboration. (4)

Climate changes and the continuing drought worry many in California. What new strategies do you believe would ensure that California is able to both satisfy its water needs and protect the environment? Please be specific. 
Answer from Dennis R. Bullock:

California visionaries set in motion engineering marvels that to this day transport and store water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the Owens Valley, the Colorado River, and other regional sources. These marvels were supply-side solutions designed to mitigate the natural inconsistency of our annual precipitation cycles; to share relative abundance to alleviate relative scarcity. The progeny of these visionaries’ work is today’s State Water Project. The project serves some 25 million Californians and irrigates 750,000 acres of farmland. It is an incredible featthe largest state-run water project in the nation.  The irony of the State Water Projects efficacy, though, is that it has allowed California’s population and concomitant water use to grow in an almost Malthusian fashion; as water resources have expanded, so has the population to match it, and so has that population’s demand for water. Water resources are continually stretched to new limits. Despite massive strides in efficiency, California still finds itself susceptible to drought. There are no more regional fresh water sources to tap.

Are there water sources outside our region to potentially tap? One idea was floated in the early 1990s: an Alaska to California Fresh Water Pipeline, transferring fresh water at the ocean outlet of the Copper or Stikine Rivers to a pipeline that ferries the water along the sea floor to a point in Northern California, where it would flow into the State Water Project. As the project was envisioned, the pipeline could supply as much as 4-million acre-feet of water per year for California (equivalent to the water use of 8 million five person households).

The real sticking point is cost. Estimates put forth by the United States Office of Technology Assessment back in 1992 presented a price tag of perhaps $110-billion. That is cost-prohibitive. Other concerns, such as over the possibility of inadvertently transporting invasive species from Alaska into California’s ecosystem, also muddied the proverbial waters. But, are the 1992 cost estimates still valid 23-years later?


Interestingly, the price tag of the (somewhat) comparable Langeled Pipeline, an undersea natural gas pipeline between Norway and the UK completed in 2006, was $2.8-billion. At 745-miles longmore than one-third the needed length for an Alaska to California pipelineit is currently the longest undersea pipeline in the world. It today supplies the UK with 20% of its natural gas, and was completed in three-years.

Clearlytherearedifferencesbetweenanaturalgasand fresh water pipeline. But, there are arguably far more parallels. If a gas pipeline costs less than $3-billion, how could a fresh water pipeline today cost over $110-billion?

TheAlaskato California Fresh Water Pipeline project needs to be reexaminednow. Such a new flow of water would provide certainty to the public and to those businesses and farmers that depend upon it. California’s growth is a direct result of our willingness to enhance and manage our unpredictable water supply.




Money in Politics

Many Californians are concerned about the influence of money in politics. What can the state legislature do to ensure that decision-making by elected officials is not swayed by moneyed interests at the expense of constituents?

No answer provided.
There are a variety of proposals to raise California's minimum wage. Many of these proposals face opposition from business groups who are concerned that they would kill jobs. Do you support increasing the minimum wage in California?  In your answer please explain your position on the relationship between wages and jobs with specific reference to the situation in your district. 
Answer from Dennis R. Bullock:

I support an incremental minimum wage increase up to $15 per hour, statewide. I base this upon the great preponderance of empirical evidence compiled and examined by economists over the course of the past three-plus decades studying the consequences of prior minimum wage hikes. The data demonstrate that the economic benefits of a minimum wage increase far outweigh any predicted, real or claimed economic costs. What's more, I believe a statewide progression toward a $15 an hour minimum wage is important for the sake of economic stability; it is vital that both firms and workers have a consistent minimum wage level with which to work and for which to plan across the entire state.

However, proper safeguards for small- to medium-sized businesses will need to be built-in to the legislation to mitigate the initial costs of implementing a statewide minimum wage. CLEARLY, not all small- and medium-sized businesses can just absorb these increases in labor costs. Specifically, a short term tax credit would be made available for one year to 18 months for which any and all businesses that employ five to 100 minimum wage workers could apply (the exact numbers will obviously need to be hammered out among interested parties; my rationale for these numbers is explained below).

There is no “us versus them” here. Businesses ARE the lifeblood of our communities. We need to assist businesses as we mandate them to do what most business owners would already do voluntarily if they felt they could afford it—give their lowest paid workers a raise to a living wage.

Once the $15 per hour threshold is met statewide by, ideally, around 2020, I would be in favor of legislation that would index the minimum wage to the national inflation rate for a 10 year period, to be sunsetted in 2030 or 2032, for reevaluation before renewal by the legislature.

Fiscal Priorities

What are your top three fiscal priorities, recognizing the need to balance the state’s income with its spending?

No answer provided.

Who gave money to this candidate?


Total money raised: $23,952

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

Employees of Providence High School
Employees of Mader News, Inc.
Employees of Suzi Scott Design
Employees of Kaiser Permanente
Employees of Bank of America
Employees of LA Cancer Center

More information about contributions

By State:

California 99.16%
Arizona 0.42%
North Carolina 0.42%

By Size:

Large contributions (99.71%)
Small contributions (0.29%)

By Type:

From organizations (0.00%)
From individuals (100.00%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy


I am running on ideas; unique and innovative ideas that are not easily expressed in platitudes or catchphrases. I believe that, if implemented, these policy prescriptions will render exceedingly positive benefits for our community and state. And, I am confident that the breadth and depth of these prescriptions set me apart from my opponents.


Many of my ideas are undergirded by my economic philosophy. First, I believe very firmly that markets are a good way to manage or solve many if not most of the problems we face as a society. I am an unabashed capitalist, provided it is rules-based and well-regulated. But, markets do not solve all problems—markets sometimes fail, such as in healthcare. In such instances, government must help manage or solve these problems. Second, I believe that, as a high tax state, California's high tax rates afford our state an opportunity to incentivize societally positive activities by offering tax breaks for participation in well-monitored, but simple programs. Take my Education Policy Prescription and my minimum wage implementation policy as prime examples as to how we can hopefully encourage positive societal benefits without having to raise taxes on the state's population writ large.


When conveying a message or policy stance, political candidates typically rely upon simplicity. I, however, do not wish to be the typical candidate. Before you vote, I want you to know these ideas in detail.


Winning is certainly my goal in this election, but my ideas are the point. This campaign is not about what I want to “be”; rather, it is about what I believe we can and should do as a state to address some of our most critical challenges.


So, while I am realistic enough to realize that I am at a disadvantage as the political outsider, I am also just idealistic enough to believe that, as an informed voter, you will judge the candidates for this seat not by party affiliation or connectedness within political circles, but on aptitude and ability—and on ideas.

Position Papers

Minimum Wage Implementation in California: A Policy Prescription to Assist Small- and Medium-sized Businesses


I support the incremental minimum wage increase up to $15 per hour, statewide. I base this upon the great preponderance of empirical evidence compiled and examined by economists over the course of the past three-plus decades studying the consequences of prior minimum wage hikes. The data demonstrate that the economic benefits of a minimum wage increase far outweigh any predicted, real or claimed economic costs. What's more, I believe a statewide progression toward a $15 an hour minimum wage is important for the sake of economic stability; it is vital that both firms and workers have a consistent minimum wage level for which to plan across the entire state.

However, proper safeguards for small- to medium-sized businesses will need to be built-in to the legislation to mitigate the initial costs of implementing a statewide minimum wage. CLEARLY, not all small- and medium-sized businesses can just absorb these increases in labor costs. There is no “us versus them” here. Businesses ARE the lifeblood of our communities. We need to assist businesses as we mandate them to do what most business owners would already do voluntarily if they felt they could afford it—give their lowest paid workers a raise to a living wage.

Rationale: Arguments for Minimum Wage from Four Perspectives

The debate over the minimum wage really centers on four, fundamental questions—I will answer each below to elucidate my policy prescription:

  1. On balance, does raising the minimum wage help workers (especially the low skilled and the very young) or hurt the large majority of them?

    This question is more complex than it seems, because we must take into account predominant economic theory first and foremost:

    The Economic Theory on Instituting a Minimum Wage: While recipients of a higher minimum wage instantaneously and undeniably benefit from greater purchasing power, economic orthodoxy tells us quite plainly that an “artificially” mandated higher wage (in other words, a governmentally instituted minimum wage that comes from outside of the market itself) should simultaneously create:

    1. greater demand for the jobs at the higher wage level, while it concomitantly should

    2. reduce the number of jobs offered or available due to the higher cost of labor for employers.

Thus, the economic orthodoxy tells us that an “artificial” minimum wage (again, instituted by the government, rather than set by the market) benefits only a few workers, and makes both businesses and most other workers suffer from a skewed market that reduces available jobs just when more are desired. What’s more, the workers that do keep or receive the higher paying available jobs are forced to work harder; they must be more productive because there are fewer workers overall at each firm, and the same amount of overall output is still required by these firms as they compete for business in the market….

This economic theory is the basis for those who say that “raising the minimum wage is a ‘job killer’ and ‘will harm the economy.’” It is a fundamental reason why many well-meaning people oppose raising the minimum wage. Further, any sensible business owner wants to keep costs down in all facets of their business. Such desire elicits an immediate, negative reaction by many business owners to the concept.

Thankfully, however, economic theory does not always demonstrate itself to be true when applied to real life—and there is growing evidence that the economic theory on the detriments of raising the minimum wage is flawed.

Why? Most fundamentally because we don’t see the predicted results actually materialize on an aggregate economic level when the minimum wage is actually raised. How can we say this so confidently? According to a literature review of the relevant, rigorously peer-reviewed economic studies on the effects of minimum wage hikes (studies of municipal, county and statewide hikes as well as national adjustments to minimum wage) over the last 30+ years undertaken by the Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), there is no discernible evidence from any instance that demonstrates these harmful overall economic effects in any significant way—not for workers, not for businesses, not for consumers and not for the economy as a whole. Certainly, as demonstrated below, some of the above mentioned negative effects do occur, but they are more anecdotal than persistent.

With regard to workers, the data demonstrate that “the minimum wage has little or no discernible effect on the employment prospects of low-wage workers.” (Schmitt, pg. 22) What’s more, the review clarifies that,“[a]cross all of the empirical research that has investigated the issue, minimum-wage increases are consistently associated with statistically significant and economically meaningful increases in the wages of affected workers.” (Schmitt, pg. 22)

Thus, from the workers’ perspective, the benefits come through. The predicted downside does not seem to materialize.

2. But, on balance, doesn’t raising the minimum wage hurt businesses, even if it does benefit workers?

The data tell us that raising the minimum wage—though undoubtedly disruptive and perhaps alarming to employers—does not actually hurt employers in the aggregate. There is some pain to be absorbed, to be sure (see below my proposition to help small- and medium-sized businesses in this transition), but what the accumulated data actually demonstrate is that employers adjust to minimum wage increases much the same way they respond to other rising costs of doing business—with a multifaceted approach that does not solely concentrate on eliminating minimum wage or other workers. And, because of such multifaceted approaches, the strategies that do have negative effects on individual workers and businesses do not translate to ill effects across the economy (which is good).

Some of the admittedly undesirable strategies are (1) laying off/eliminating employees; (2) cutting back on benefits; (3) cutting wages and/or benefits for other, higher paid workers; (4) raising prices for consumers; or (5) settling for lower profits, and thus eating the cost. Each of these reactions individually can be quite harmful. But, employed in some combination, the ill effects of these strategies can be somewhat muted.

What also can mute these ill effects is the more positive adjustments and consequences pointed out in the studies. These include firms (1) becoming more efficient in order to reduce costs to offset increased labor costs; (2) experiencing less employee turnover thanks to the better wages; (3) and gaining more productivity and hard work from workers in response to the wage increase. (Schmitt, pp. 22-23)

The combination of these possible responses by business to a minimum wage hike offset each other—albeit imperfectly. There are still overall costs with which to contend. That is where government must come in. By making a minimum wage a statewide reality, it puts all regions of the state on an even playing field and solves competitive differences that can emerge among municipalities and regions that have different minimum wage levels. That will help, rather than hinder implementation and help to mitigate the source of a key objection. (Namely: “How do I compete with my neighbors if they pay their employees less for the same production"?) By putting the entire state on the same footing, businesses do not have to worry about being at a competitive disadvantage for labor costs, and quantity and quality of workers in the labor pool.

But, government must also treat businesses as partners in this matter—because they are the lifeblood of California's economy. The state cannot mandate a wage increase upon them, and then simply say, "live with it." CLEARLY, not all small- and medium-sized businesses can just absorb these increases in labor costs. Government needs to offer assistance to ease the blow for small- and medium-sized businesses.

In such cases, I propose a short term tax credit of, say, 60% of each added increment of the minimum wage, at each additional interval of minimum wage increase, up to a certain ceiling to be determined in the legislature, available at the conclusion of each interval. Any and all businesses that employ (let's say) five to 100 minimum wage workers could apply. (Why have a low end number? It might offer an incentive to a business that employs, say, two minimum wage workers to hire three more—because it may actually be more economically lucrative thanks to a tax break.) Businesses employing more than 100 minimum wage workers can still take advantage of the break for their first 100 workers.

To be eligible for the credit, a company would have to demonstrate that (1) it did not eliminate the total number of positions that were eligible to be considered minimum wage over the course of the prior 12 or 18 month increment of the minimum wage hike period, nor (2) reduced a current employee's wages down to minimum wage. In that way, companies can be rewarded for not laying off employees in the face of additional minimum wage costs. By the end of each eligibility period, it would be assumed that the business has been able to adjust to the “new normal” of wage levels and the credit would sunset. A new credit would become available for the next incremental increase, to be applied for at that interval's conclusion.

In this manner, the minimum wage would not be a zero-sum game. Businesses could count on economic assistance, which would be an incentive to not downsize in the face of increased labor costs.

3. On balance, does raising the minimum wage cause inflation—and doesn’t that hurt the economy?

If a minimum wage increase is having a real economic effect, then the answer is yes—it can initiate what would amount to a bump in inflation. But, that does not actually indicate harm to the economy. On the contrary, it would indicate increased demand, which would obviously be a net benefit for all. Keep in mind, a certain rate of inflation is an essential sign of economic growth. And, the economy is presently experiencing inflation levels below the Federal Reserve’s target of 2% inflation, despite three massive rounds of quantitative easing by the Fed since the financial crisis to capitalize banks so they would lend more to spur economic activity (inflation is 0.7% nationally for 2015; 2% in the LA metro area for 2015). By spurring consumption, the minimum wage could not only energize the economy in a way it currently isn’t being energized, but would also raise living standards in a time where many are lagging behind in our economy.

Inflation is simply the rate of the general loss of purchasing power in a currency over a specific period of time; it is reflected in and measured by the rate of the general rise in prices across the economy during such a time period. Though a dollar is a dollar across time, what or how much a dollar can purchase ideally diminishes slowly over a given period of time, all things equal, due to inflation. For an even more detailed analysis of the effects of a minimum wage hike on inflation—by an economist no less—click here.

4. On balance, should the minimum wage—once raised—be indexed to inflation? If so, does that hurt businesses by forcing them to raise wages based upon a lagging indicator such as inflation that may run counter to present economic reality (such as a downturn)?

Some argue that tying the minimum wage to inflation will destine businesses to perpetual wage increases, not allowing them to get ahead.

One counter to that argument is that such a pegging to the inflation rate would provide certitude to businesses about what prevailing wage rates will be across the state’s economy, keeping them all on a level playing field when it comes to minimum wage rates. They would all know what to expect because they could roughly predict and plan for the next, incremental increase, rather than be uncertain as to when the next wage debate will come.

Inflation can be described as a lagging indicator—that is, it is an indicator of what has already occurred and is occurring on the ground. It is a reflection of a rise in prices already evident to those who have had to raise those prices, or because they can see their monetary costs of production going up (due to accelerating inflation). To say that the inflation rate will cause an increase to wages and would be a "surprise" to employers seems a bit of a hollow argument.

Does pegging the minimum wage to inflation mean that—if God forbid we hit a deflationary period (a period of aggregate prices dropping rather than rising)—workers will have to see their pay cut in the face of a deflationary cycle? The answer to that would probably have to be "yes." If we do peg minimum wage to inflation, we may have to either take the good with the bad, or build-in automatic tax credits--probably for employers--to undergird a policy of not allowing the wage to come back down.

Conclusion: On balance, the minimum wage increase will benefit society, not hurt it—provided we do this responsibly, keeping everyone on the same playing field and assisting those businesses that may need a helping hand during the transitional period. I have plainly laid out my reasons for it and backed it with evidence collected by economists.

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