Capitol Alert

Interactive: Poverty rates by California legislative district

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, talks with reporters after speaking at the 2015 California Women's Policy Summit in Sacramento on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. Recalling her upbringing in Appalachia, Atkins told the gathering of women advocates that social services helped her rise out of poverty.
Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, talks with reporters after speaking at the 2015 California Women's Policy Summit in Sacramento on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. Recalling her upbringing in Appalachia, Atkins told the gathering of women advocates that social services helped her rise out of poverty. AP

Poverty in California – and what else the state should do to reduce it – has emerged as a top issue early in the months-long budget process.

After Gov. Jerry Brown released his spending proposal last Friday, advocates for the poor held rallies in Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities, saying that California should do more to reduce poverty and income inequality. Many Democratic lawmakers voice the same concerns.

Poverty rates vary widely by legislative district. At the high end are the districts of Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles, and state Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford. The districts with the lowest poverty rates are those of Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-Dublin, and state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo.

Scroll through the chart below (or click here) to see how districts’ poverty rates compared to the California rate of about 16.6 percent, based on the census’ most recent American Community Survey. Note: This is the census’ older measurement of poverty. A different census methodology pegs California’s poverty rate at more than 23 percent, but it lacks legislative district-level numbers.

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Brown contends that the state already is doing a lot to help the poor. And under the state’s school-funding guarantee, officials say virtually all of the billions in additional revenue through June 2016 will go to schools and community colleges, with little free money with which to expand or create new social or health programs to reduce poverty.

“You’re going to have to explain to your advocacy groups, your constituents, why is it that you can have funding going up by $4 billion, and none of it is available for” non-education purposes, Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor told the Assembly Budget Committee on Thursday.

Call Jim Miller, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5521. Follow him on Twitter @jimmiller2.

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