John Chiang, the state’s treasurer and a candidate for governor this year, was asked last week to name the top three issues that will make the most difference for the state’s future. The question is the first one Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO, asks of all gubernatorial candidates appearing before PPIC audiences. Chiang said his priorities are
- Jobs, climate change, health care—issues Chiang lumped together as the “things that are absolutely critical in everybody’s life.”
Chiang praised Governor Jerry Brown for the state’s K–12 finance formula that targets extra resources toward lower-income students, English Learners, and those in foster care. He said he would target more money toward students with special needs.
Referring to the state’s housing situation as an “extraordinary crisis,” Chiang said that even if an affordable housing bond measure passes in November, the state will need to return to the voters to get more money. He advocated reviving local redevelopment agencies, which the governor eliminated in 2011, to give local governments an economic tool to build housing.
Chiang referred to his background as treasurer, state controller, and member of the state Board of Equalization in emphasizing the need to ensure a way to pay for proposals such as single-payer health care—an idea he said he favors in concept. While describing the current system as inefficient, he said that the state can’t achieve single payer health care immediately. How long will it take? Chiang said more clarity from the federal government is crucial to understanding what the state can afford. “Let’s build what we can build. We don’t have to build a mansion at the beginning. Let’s build a starter house.” Chiang also said that the state needed to figure out how to insure an additional 2.9 million Californians who are currently uninsured.
The conversation with Chiang is part of the PPIC Speaker Series on California’s Future. PPIC is inviting all major candidates for governor to participate if they reach a certain threshold in the polls. The goal is to give Californians a better understanding of how the candidates intend to address the challenges facing our state.