Assembly hearings focused on raising more Californians into middle class
March 2, 2017 by Ed Coghlan
(Photo Credit: Christopher Padalinski/Wikimedia)
What can we do to lift people out of poverty or near poverty and into California’s middle class?
The California Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy (JEDE) held its second informational hearing this week in Sacramento to address this important issue.
“While many areas of California have recovered and are thriving since the recession, other areas of the state and certain population groups still lag economically. How we address those equity issues is a critical next step for California," said Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva, an Orange County Democrat who chairs the JEDE Committee
One of the questions the Committee is considering is fundamental:
Does California have the strategy and willingness to address the current misalignment of policies, programs, and institutions that represent the state's workforce and education systems?
"The California Economic Summit has been driving a conversation across the state about how we can accelerate upward mobility for all Californians," said Jim Mayer, president & CEO of CA Fwd. "We are pleased the JEDE committee is working hard to identify ways to promote inclusive growth in the diverse regional economies of the state."
As Chair Quirk-Silva indicated, some regions of California aren’t doing as well as others. Regional leaders testified on the importance of the JEDE Committee’s work.
“We need to refocus policy-making on increasing upward mobility for Californians,” said Pete Weber, founder and chair of the California Bridge Academy in Fresno and co-chair of the California Forward Leadership Council. The Bridge Academy has turned out to be a very effective second-chance pathway for lifting people out of poverty, but we also need to cure the first-chance systems issues that are causing so many Californians to be left behind."
Weber and others shared their ideas with JEDE members on how to address a number of challenges facing the California economy. The Committee outlined other key questions in a document promoting the hearings.
- How can inclusive and sustainable development principles be used to enhance global competitiveness and economic integration?
- How can the state best leverage the advantages offered by California's diverse populations?
- How can the state support local and regional efforts to catalyze private investments and support entrepreneurship, especially in historically underserved and emerging areas?
- Does the state have an appropriate game plan to attract private capital to meet the state's significant infrastructure needs?
- What economic opportunities do trade-related industries represent and how can the state support local and regional efforts to capitalize on those advantages?
If upward mobility is going to increase and the middle class again is going to grow, the state is going to have address workforce training, housing and infrastructure—all complex issues. These are issues that the California Economic Summit has been confronting since its inception in 2012.
"Our Committee and the California Economic Summit network share a bipartisan interest in promoting opportunities for upward mobility for all Californians," said Quirk-Silva. "The Summit takes a comprehensive approach to developing integrated solutions that respond to the workforce, infrastructure and housing challenges experienced by so many in our state. I commend the progress being made by this unique network of regional and civic leaders and look forward continued collaboration for improved results."
"We will take this valuable input and develop a next steps legislative strategy with an eye toward making sure state government is doing what is necessary to grow our economy for the benefit of all Californians."