Dems control the legislature with supermajorities. And while this is a tremendous outcome, it is not a stable one. Dems in the legislature must act swiftly and boldly, learning the lessons of the U.S. Congress in 2009, to remake California in the image that we want (and then they can take credit for).
When Democrats achieved supermajorities in the U.S. Congress, they were barely able to achieve their signature accomplishments of Obamacare and Dodd-Frank before fate struck and Ted Kennedy was replaced by Scott Brown. A handful of Democratic state senators are changing jobs and special elections will occur. Are those seats as safe as a Democratic senator in Massachusetts?
This supermajority will not last. Some of the swing-district senators will lose next time around. They should realize that they have the opportunity to do something worth remembering instead of chipping away at real change in order to simply keep their seats. Leaders in the party can facilitate this by making sure those who walk the plank have good jobs later, whatever happens, and a future in the party if they play ball.
Here are some things we need, in no particular order:
(1) A California Public Option. I am an advocate of single-payer. It’s the smartest, most efficient, best system. It would make California a more attractive place for employers. The politics are more complicated than that. If the Dems are willing to go for single payer, great! Assuming they can get the necessary waiver from Washington (that Vermont has been waiting on), I see no problem. Assuming they can’t, or there would be a significant delay, they should open up a public option on the coming exchange. Open up whatever state employees have to all state residents. Whatever.
Regardless of what is done, I strongly encourage the legislature to replace the current workers’ compensation system with a more robust SDI program (including training etc.) and universal healthcare. Doing this would be a major relief to businesses, small and large, and show them that they will benefit from all of this as well.
(2) More polytechnic state colleges. Triple down on Silicon Valley. Open up more colleges modeled on the Cal Poly system with the focus on producing engineers and scientists ready to innovate in Silicon Valley. Cal Poly Silicon Valley sounds like a great school to me. Make sure they are affordable.
(3) Put split roll property tax on the ballot. I personally would suggest three alternatives on the ballot: a full repeal of 13, a split roll, or a schools only 50% requirement. People might feel more “moderate” going for split roll. People are going to want to feel “moderate” in the next election.
(4) Expand family leave and paid sick leave. All employers should be covered. Make it easy for the and make it not just those over 50 employees.
(5) Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure.