At a PPIC event last week, Kevin de León, senate leader pro tem, and Chad Mayes, the Assembly Republican leader, were asked to name the top three issues the legislature should work on with the governor. Though the leaders come from different sides of the aisle, the list of issues they named before a large Sacramento audience had a lot in common. De León’s priorities began with income inequality between the coastal and inland regions, a “tale of two states.” He also listed water and making targeted investments, particularly in higher education. He went on to list a fourth issue: climate change.
Mayes named water and a lack of water infrastructure, and the many Californians left behind in the state’s economic recovery. His third issue was transportation, the focus of an ongoing special legislative session.
“Everywhere that I go in California,” he said, “I’m stuck in traffic. So we know there’s a problem.”
The leaders’ top issues dovetail with findings from the latest PPIC Statewide Survey in which Californians identify water and the economy as the most important issues for the legislature and governor to work on in 2016.
Though De León and Mayes named similar priorities, there was much less agreement on solutions. But the two maintained a collaborative tone throughout their conversation, denounced what Mayes termed “demagoguery on the national stage,” and repeated their commitment to working together productively.
De León said the legislature can avoid being mired in bitter national political debates if leaders continue to work cooperatively to “get some real tangible victories for Californians.”
“We’re doing things very differently in the state of California,” he said.