ARC Publishes Fifth Edition of California Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity
WASHINGTON - Applied Research Center has published its
fifth edition of the "California Legislative Report Card on Racial
Equity" today, February 11, as people of color look to legislative
solutions to pull their communities out of the recession.
Unfortunately, California lawmakers are failing the grade. Governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger scored an "F" in racial equity, while the State
Assembly scored a "D" and the State Senate scored an "F."
Though communities of color represent nearly 60 percent of the
population, the state of California's leadership has not addressed this
majority population's needs. California state lawmakers slashed budgets
across social, educational and health services last year, exacerbating
long-standing racial disparities. This month, they are again
threatening more of the same.
The majority of progressive racial equity bills were authored in
the Assembly, with Speaker Karen Bass and members Kevin de Leon, Hector
De La Torre, Tom Ammiano and Jose Solorio among the leaders. The Senate
scored worse overall though President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg
received a "B." Schwarzenegger scored well on criminal justice bills
supporting juveniles. But the governor's overall score dropped 24
percent since 2007.
"From school funding to strengthening
the safety net for those most in need, the Governor and the legislature
have repeatedly failed to effectively root out racial disparities,"
said Tammy Johnson of Applied Research Center. "The legislature
is even debating the elimination of CalWORKS at a time when
unemployment in communities of color remains in double digits."
"These grades resulted from an exhaustive effort of communities
state-wide to identify bills that most impacted the quality of life of
people of color in 2009," said Goro Mitchell of Community Development Institute.
"It is hard to grasp that in a state with majority people of color the
legislature and the governor were so unresponsive to our needs--this
racial justice report card is key to promoting accountability."
Beyond the budget, California lawmakers scored poorly on a range of
bills impacting racial equity, including housing and economics, health
equity, education equity, criminal justice, civil rights, and green
equity. Worse still, some lawmakers authored bills that would have
resulted in institutionalizing racial inequities.
"Last year's budget meant domestic violence shelters closed,
children were put on waiting lists for health care and homebound
elderly and disabled people were left without adequate care," said Nancy Berlin of California Partnership.
"We need a state budget that puts families first, creates jobs and
provides a strong safety net to help Californians through these tough
Additional experts who can speak to sections of the "California Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity" include Elizabeth Sholes of California Council of Churches (budget), Sumayyah Waheed of Ella Baker Center for Human Rights (juvenile justice) and Evelyn M. Rangel-Medina of Ella Baker Center for Human Rights (green equity).
Download California Report Card at http://www.arc.org/reportcards
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The Applied Research Center (ARC) is a racial justice think tank and home for media and activism. ARC is built on rigorous research and creative use of new technology. Our goal is to popularize the need for racial justice and prepare people to fight for it. By telling the stories of everyday people, ARC is a voice for unity and fairness in the structures that affect our lives.