VC Star Op-ed: State Starts to Feel Golden Again

December 29, 2013

by Hannah-Beth Jackson

2013 was the best of times, and the worst of times.

Congress, mired in gridlock and partisanship and hijacked by tea party extremists, sputtered and shut down.

But in Sacramento, the Legislature and the governor spent 2013 quietly showing what government can do when it functions well, spends prudently and thinks big. After years of dysfunction and deficits, it’s a welcome change.

Our structural deficit now behind us, we passed a balanced, on-time and fiscally restrained budget. In a time of growing income inequality, we took the important step of raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour in 2016, the highest in the nation.

We significantly reformed school funding, giving more funding to all students but especially to those who need it the most — English language learners and low-income students — and giving more local control to schools.

We signaled our willingness to lead on immigration issues — if Congress won’t — by granting the undocumented driver’s licenses and passing the Trust Act, which limits deportations if someone is arrested for a misdemeanor.

While many states spent 2013 limiting women’s access to abortion services, California expanded access, allowing trained nurse practitioners to provide first-trimester care.

After years of careening from budget crisis to budget crisis, our budget situation is the strongest it’s been in a decade.

The Golden State is beginning to feel golden again. California reached this point through a series of changes. But I believe our success in 2014 and beyond depends not on declaring victory, but declaring our hard work far from done.