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Policy Insights, the Budget Center’s annual conference, is the premier event for advocates, policymakers, researchers, funders, service providers, and other leaders working to improve the lives of low- and middle-income Californians. The conference fosters a discussion on expanding economic opportunity for all Californians.

The following is the agenda and schedule for Policy Insights 2019, which was held on March 27 at the Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel and attended by over 400 people from around the state. This page includes links to presentations and handouts from the conference sessions as noted, as well as a video recording of all three plenary sessions.


8:30-8:50 Registration and Continental Breakfast

9:00-9:15 Welcome and Overview

Pathways to Shared Prosperity: The Budget Center’s Perspective

9:15-10:30 Morning Plenary

Pathways to Shared Prosperity: The Administration’s Perspective

A conversation with Governor Gavin Newsom’s Cabinet Secretary about the Administration’s proposed 2019-20 budget, “California For All” policies, and priorities for California in 2019-20 and beyond.

  • Ana J. Matosantos,  Cabinet Secretary, Office of Governor Gavin Newsom
  • Moderator: Priska Neely, Senior Reporter, Early Childhood, 89.3 KPCC, Southern California Public Radio

10:45-12:00 Morning Workshops (see “Workshops” below) 

12:15-1:45 Luncheon Plenary

Introductory Remarks

  • Frank J. Mecca, Executive Director, County Welfare Directors Association of California and, Vice Chair, California Budget & Policy Center Board of Directors

Pathways to Shared Prosperity: Legislative Leadership Perspective

The Senate Pro Tem, Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, and California’s new Legislative Analyst discuss current state budget and policy proposals and opportunities for progress in this year’s budget deliberations.

    • Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins
    • Senator Holly J. Mitchell, Chair, Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee
    • Gabriel Petek, Legislative Analyst, Legislative Analyst’s Office
    • Moderator: Judy Lin, Reporter, CALmatters

2:00-3:15 Afternoon Workshops (see “Workshops” below)

3:30-4:30 Afternoon Plenary

Pathways to Shared Prosperity: A Local Leader’s Perspective

One of California’s, and the nation’s, most innovative leaders discusses his efforts to redefine the role of his city in creating broadly shared economic opportunity for the people of his community.

    • Mayor Michael D. Tubbs, City of Stockton
    • Moderator: Natalie Foster, California Budget & Policy Center Board Member and Co-Chair, Economic Security Project

4:30-6:00 Reception


10:45-12:00 Morning Workshops

Repairing the Road to Redemption: How “Clean Slate” Policies Are Reshaping California’s Criminal Justice Reform Landscape

In recent years, California has substantially reformed its criminal justice policies to reduce incarceration and promote more effective pathways to rehabilitation. Yet, even with these advances, Californians who have completed their sentences continue to face systemic barriers – such as restrictions on access to jobs and housing – that hinder their ability to rebuild their lives. While some people can clear or change their records, this process is cumbersome – and, in California, old convictions can never truly be erased. This workshop will review recent efforts to reduce the collateral consequences of old criminal convictions as well as highlight additional policies that can remove the legal roadblocks that prevent millions of Californians from realizing their full potential even after they have paid their debt to society.

  • Assemblymember Rob Bonta, Assistant Majority Leader
  • Cristine Soto DeBerry, Chief of Staff, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon | View Slides
  • Evonne Silva, Senior Program Director, Criminal Justice and Workforce Development, Code for America | View Slides
  • Jael Myrick, Program Coordinator, Clean Slate Practice, East Bay Community Law Center

Addressing Racial Equity Through the State Tax Code

Many state tax policies currently have the effect of exacerbating racial income and wealth inequality, making it harder for people of color to share in California’s prosperity. The state tax code can also be used as a tool to reduce economic and racial disparities while raising revenue to support services and investments that provide more opportunities for communities of color to achieve economic security and build wealth. This workshop will explore the many ways in which tax policy contributes to the widening of the racial wealth divide as well as policies California can pursue to make the tax code more equitable.

  • Christopher M. Brown,  Director, PolicyLink | View Handout
  • Jennifer Ito,  USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity | View Slides
  • Michael Leachman,  Senior Director of State Fiscal Research, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities | View Slides | View Handout
  • Kayla Kitson, Tax Policy Analyst, California Budget & Policy Center | View Handout

Intentional Communications: How to Advance Racial and Gender Equity Through Organizational Narrative

In order to drive powerful progress toward policies that advance racial and gender equity, we must take intentional steps ─ starting with how we communicate and talk about these issues. In this workshop, you will learn strategies from key leaders in some of the most exciting and important movements in California.

  • Veronica Carrizales, Policy and Campaign Development Director, California Calls
  • Noreen Farrell, Executive Director, Equal Rights Advocates | View Handout
  • John Kim, Co-Director, Advancement Project
  • Bilen Mesfin Packwood, Founder and Principal, Change Consulting, LLC

Pathways to Shared Prosperity: New State Legislators’ Perspective

The 2018 elections saw a record number of women candidates in California elected to the state legislature, statewide office, and the US Congress. Across California and the nation, women were energized and activated to run for elected office, many of them for the first time. We are delighted and honored to be joined at this year’s conference by several of California’s newly elected state legislators who will share their motivations for running for office, their experiences so far, and their policy aspirations for California and their communities.

  • Senator María Elena Durazo
  • Assemblymember Buffy Wicks
  • Moderator: Surina Khan, Chief Executive Officer, Women’s Foundation of California

Housing, Health, and Opportunity: How Housing and Housing Policies Affect Life Outcomes

Housing is the largest expense in most families’ budgets for basic needs, and unaffordable housing costs are a critical driver of California’s high poverty rate under the Supplemental Poverty Measure. But housing also matters beyond its role as a major household expense. Housing quality, stability, and location can all significantly influence an individual’s health, well-being, and educational and economic opportunities. This workshop will explore the many ways that housing affects life outcomes, over the short term and long term. We will also discuss how housing policies can be used as tools to promote well-being and increase equity in opportunity for all Californians.

2:00-3:15 Afternoon Workshops

Leveling the Playing Field: How California Can Advance Health Equity

While California has succeeded in expanding access to affordable health coverage in recent years, our state has made much less progress in addressing the persistent and costly health inequities – based on race, ethnicity, geography, and other factors – that continue to afflict our society as well as our health care system. For example, black and Latinx Californians are still substantially more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes compared to other residents. In addition, Vietnamese-American women have the highest incidence of and death rates from cervical cancer – several times higher than the rates for white women. In this workshop, experts representing a diverse array of communities will discuss the range of environmental and societal conditions that contribute to wide disparities in health outcomes among our state’s nearly 40 million residents. Panelists will also highlight opportunities to reduce health disparities through both community empowerment and new policies at the state level – policies that could gain traction under the administration of Governor Gavin Newsom. | View Slides

  • Lee Lo, California Policy Advocate, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)
  • Jeffrey Reynoso, Executive Director, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California
  • Angelo Williams, Deputy Director, California Black Health Network
  • Linda Tenerowicz, Policy Advocate, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network

Moving the Needle to Help Kids Thrive: Connections Between Policies That Address Child Poverty, Child Health and Development, and the Geography of Opportunity

One in five children in California lived in poverty in 2017, and one in 20 lived in deep poverty, when accounting for the cost of living using the Supplemental Poverty Measure. What policies are needed to reduce California’s high child poverty rate and meet the needs of children growing up with economic insecurity? This question has been an important recent focus for many state policy stakeholders, with proposals developed by a child poverty task force, a Blue Ribbon Commission on early care and education, and Governor Newsom’s new administration, among others, that aim to tackle this challenge from many sides. This workshop will explore the connections between policies that aim to address family incomes, child health and development, early care and education, housing affordability, and other approaches to helping families afford basic needs and helping children build resilience to overcome the challenges of growing up with economic insecurity. | View Handout 1 | View Handout 2 | View Handout 3

  • Kim Pattillo Brownson, Vice President, Policy & Strategy, First 5 LA
  • Sara Kimberlin, Senior Policy Analyst, California Budget & Policy Center | View Slides | View Handout
  • Anya Lawler, Policy Advocate, Western Center On Law and Poverty
  • Frank J. Mecca, Executive Director, County Welfare Directors Association of California and Vice Chair, California Budget & Policy Center Board of Directors
  • Alissa Anderson, Senior Policy Analyst, California Budget & Policy Center

Examining Racial and Gender Wealth Inequity: How Public Policy Promotes and Prevents Shared Prosperity in Our Communities

Wealth is central to economic security and mobility. It allows families to weather financial setbacks, save for a rainy day or retirement, invest in a home or a business, or even to boost the financial security of their children. However, people of color and women face persistent barriers to building wealth. This workshop illuminates the pressing racial and gender wealth gap, discusses how public policy has helped create these inequities, and lays out a better set of policies that could put California and the nation as a whole on a better path to building wealth for millions of families.

  • Graciela Aponte-Diaz, Director of California Policy, Center for Responsible Lending | View Slides | View Handout
  • Jhumpa Bhattacharya, Director of Racial Equity and Strategy, Insight Center for Community Economic Development | View Slides 1 | View Slides 2 | View Handout
  • Heather McCulloch, Founder and Executive Director, Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap Initiative | View Slides | View Handout
  • Esi Hutchful, State Policy Fellow, California Budget & Policy Center | View Handout

Transforming Student Financial Aid and Increasing College Access

Students pursuing a college degree face two main costs: tuition and fees charged by the institution and student-related living expenses such as housing, food, transportation, and books and supplies. While tuition and living costs have increased significantly in recent years, state support has not kept pace, making college unaffordable for low- and middle-income students and pushing many into debt. This workshop features experts from the state’s three public higher education sectors (the California State University, the University of California, and the California Community Colleges), the state’s student aid commission, and The Education Trust—West. This panel will explore why and how to reform the state’s financial aid system to better serve the needs of all Californians. | View Handout 1 | View Handout 2 | View Handout 3

  • Tyler Aguilar, Legislative Director, Academic Programs and Student Affairs, University of California Office of the President
  • Laura Metune, Vice Chancellor for External Relations, California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office
  • Christopher Nellum, Senior Director of Higher Education Research and Policy, The Education Trust—West
  • David O’Brien, Director, Government Affairs, California Student Aid Commission

From Cradle to Career: How a Longitudinal Data System Can Support Children’s Educational Success in California

Education data is a powerful tool that can help policymakers, educators, parents, and other stakeholders make informed decisions, but California lacks an integrated data system found in other states across the country. Sixteen states currently have a data system that track students from preschool through a college degree and into the workforce. Could Governor Newsom’s proposal to support a statewide longitudinal data system add California to this list? This panel will explore the benefits of, and some of the obstacles to, bringing a transparent “cradle to career” data system to fruition in a large and diverse state.

  • Ben Chida, Senior Policy Advisor for Cradle to Career, Office of Governor Gavin Newsom
  • Carlise King, Early Childhood Data Collaborative, Child Trends | View Slides
  • Anita Larson, Research, Planning & Eval Dir., MN Dept of Education | View Slides | View Handout 1 | View Handout 2
  • Marcy Lauck, Senior Director of Data Governance Strategies, Santa Clara County Office of Education | View Slides
  • Emily Putnam-Hornstein, Associate Professor and Director, University of Southern California Children’s Data Network

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