In September, California became the first state in the nation to pass a law banning single-use plastic bags. Gov. Jerry Brown has also signed into law bills requiring paid sick leave for California’s workers, expanding access to abortion and affordable birth control, and improving the rights of the LGBT community. Thanks to California Democrats, our state has also moved forward on gun violence prevention, passing legislation that will allow family members to obtain a temporary restraining order blocking a loved one from obtaining a firearm if he or she shows signs of mental instability.
These are just a few examples of how California is at the forefront in enacting progressive legislation. Under the leadership of Gov. Brown and our Democratic state lawmakers, California is fiscally and socially on the mend after years of political bickering, partisan gridlock, budget woes and a devastating financial crash.
But in 2010, having had enough of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s and California Republicans’ slash and burn fiscal policies, voters brought back Jerry Brown to steer our state in a better, more progressive direction. In addition, voters approved cutting the requirement to pass a budget from a two-thirds to a simple majority, and passed the revenue-raising Prop. 30, paving the way toward better fiscal health. In 2012, Californians elected enough Democrats to give the party a two-thirds majority in the Legislature, rendering the state GOP nearly irrelevant. Without the GOP intransigence that has plagued other states and the Washington Beltway, California has been able to improve the lives of its residents.
However, we still have a ways to go. California’s unemployment rate is 7.3%, still higher than the U.S. average of 5.9%. And the official rate doesn’t count people who work part-time or have given up looking for work. Los Angeles County’s unemployment rate is now at 8%, but that’s better than the 9.7% of a year ago. The state and county are still among the most expensive places to live in the country. The recent increase in California’s minimum wage to $9 over the summer (due to rise again to $10 in 2016) will no doubt help many residents pay their bills and boost their spending power, creating more jobs in the future.