California Lawmakers Fail the Grade

By Debayani Kar Feb 11, 2010

Applied Research Center publishes its fifth edition of the “California Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity” today, 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. “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,” says Tammy Johnson of ARC. “The legislature is even debating the elimination of CalWORKS at a time when unemployment in communities of color remains in double digits.” 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. Report contributors included Tammy Johnson, Goro Mitchell of Community Development Institute and Elizabeth Sholes of California Council of Churches. “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,” says Goro Mitchell. Nancy Berlin of California Partnership and Sumayyah Waheed and Evelyn M. Rangel-Medina of Ella Baker Center for Human Rights collaborated with ARC on releasing the fifth “California Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity.” Read the report at