When Antonio Villaraigosa was asked to name the top issues most important to the state’s future, he started with the economy. His key concerns are poverty and the state’s business climate, its “byzantine and bureaucratic regulatory framework.”
Villaraigosa, candidate for governor and former mayor of Los Angeles, spoke at the Speaker Series on California’s Future sponsored by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). As part of the series, PPIC is inviting all major candidates for governor to participate in a public event. Other highlights of his remarks:
- Health care: He believes in universal health care but is skeptical about how to pay for the current plan before the legislature: “You’re selling snake oil when you say that single payer is something that’s going to happen any time soon.”
- Infrastructure: He emphasized his long-term support for high-speed rail. He sees it as an economic development strategy to transform the Central Valley by connecting it to the two big centers of the economy, Los Angeles and the Bay Area.
- Higher education: He said the state needs to look at how community colleges are funded and marshal its resources to make sure students get through the system and transfer to four-year colleges. But he’s not an advocate for making community college free to all: “It’s already free for poor people, and that’s who it should be free for.