Tom Steyer—business leader, philanthropist, and possible Democratic candidate for governor—has invested his money and time in activism since leaving the private sector. Moving beyond his initial environmental advocacy, Steyer supported candidates and causes across the state and nation in both the 2014 and 2016 elections.
He sat down to talk to Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO, about his views on policies that will affect the future of California. Steyer would not say whether or not he’s running for governor. But he had a lot to say about the current political climate.
Asked to name three issues that will affect California’s future, Steyer listed priorities that he said are inextricably linked and cut across traditional policy areas:
- Addressing income inequality: The state has rebounded economically since 2008, Steyer noted, but it is the top 1% of residents who have benefited. While income inequality is a critical issue across the nation, its impact is heightened in California, Steyer said, affecting housing, transportation, education, and incarceration.
- Investing in our state to rebuild the way we live together: California needs to create a more sustainable way of living that preserves the beauty of the state. “We’ve build the state around the internal combustion engine,” Steyer said. “We have to rebuild the way we live.”
- Protecting and strengthening our democracy: “California citizens are basically losing a silent fight with special interests,” he said, noting his support for ballot measures that were “direct contests” with special interests, including oil and tobacco companies. “I think the threat to democracy that we’re seeing coming out of Washington, DC, is as profound as I’ve seen in my lifetime.”