The Next Gov. Should Set Goals to Break California’s Dickensian Economy

Yes, California has much to celebrate. We are home to the most formidable tech companies on the planet with half of the world’s tech billionaires living in Silicon Valley. State coffers bulge with historic budget surpluses fed by unprecedented revenues. Our economy enjoys utopian levels of unemployment and is ranked as the world’s 5th largest. And although Governor Brown can proudly point to a strong state balance sheet, soaring levels of renewable energy, and reformed spending priorities, another set of numbers tell a deeply disturbing story. These numbers reveal a failing social contract that no longer affords reliable pathways to success for many hard-working Californians. These are the numbers that our next Governor will face on his first day in office.

The Public Policy Institute of California reports that about four in ten Californians are living in or near poverty. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center analyzed the cost of living in all 50 states and found that California ranked in the bottom 10 in every category – 49th in housing, 48th in transportation, and 46th in grocery costs. Decent housing, higher education, quality daycare and healthcare – the pillars of a thriving middle class – are increasingly priced beyond the reach of the average two-income household.

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