California is set to become the world’s 4th largest economy — larger than Germany and the United Kingdom if the state were an independent nation. This strong economy should ensure that every resident has a roof over their head, access to food and clean drinking water, the opportunity to get a higher education, and a robust safety net to fall on when things get tough.
Yet, despite California becoming the world’s 4th largest economy, too many Californians are left out of our state’s economic success. As leaders celebrate California’s strong economy, we have to remember those that are continuously shut out from accessing our state’s wealth, and we must take collective action to create an inclusive economy.
This fall about 2 in 3 California households with incomes under $35,000 had trouble affording basic needs like housing, groceries, and diapers. For Black, Latinx, and other Californians of color, the challenge is often greater. This is a result of historical and continued policies that create and exacerbate racism and discrimination across our state, creating disparities in earnings, well-being, and wealth building.
As inflation and high housing costs continue to take a toll on Californians, state leaders must ensure that our public policies create an economy that benefits every Californian, not just corporations and those at the top.
One way California can help distribute our state’s great wealth is by strengthening existing tax credits like the California Earned Income Tax Credit, commonly known as the CalEITC, which puts cash into the pockets of California workers, their families, and young working adults with low incomes.
Cash supports like the CalEITC are an efficient way to distribute resources and help respect the dignity and autonomy of families, by allowing them to choose the best way to spend their resources and address their most pressing needs.
State leaders can also help families and individuals with low incomes by using the state’s economic success to:
- boost investments in safe and affordable housing
- eliminate the high cost of subsidized child care fees
- strengthen the safety net so no family lives in deep poverty.
Ensuring all Californians — from different races, backgrounds, and places — have the resources they need to afford food, housing, child care, and meet all of their basic needs should be our state’s real measure of economic success.