This election year, The Sacramento Bee and other McClatchy newspapers in California want to drive a discussion on the important issues facing our state. We’ve assembled a panel of 76 influential Californians who will offer their views throughout the year.
Meet them here and see how they responded to our initial question:
“What is the single biggest challenge our leaders must confront to secure a better future for California?”
California’s challenge is to continue leading the nation and much of the world by prioritizing an educated workforce capable of responding to future breakthrough technologies.
The biggest challenge before Califonia is the need to revamp the entire education system, K through college, so that our children have the skill sets to cope with a constantly changing job market – because every dream begins with a job.
A better future for California can be achieved only if our national and state leaders honor the U.S. and California Constitutions’ allocation of respective responsibilities between our national and state governments and among their executive, legislative and judicial branches, and uphold the individual freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
The growing income inequality needs to be addressed; our region is supposed to be the land opportunity for all, but across California income inequality has gotten worse in the last decade.
Implementing real action that will improve and widen educational outcomes and meaningful employment with an inclusive electorate that will drive full accountability.
We must ensure access to a quality education for all California students in order to secure our long-term economic success and to provide opportunities for all Californians to pursue their dreams – educational excellence is key to our future.
The upcoming gubernatorial election comes at an important inflection point for the state of California; during the last administration so much of the focus was on righting issues that were threatening critical aspects of the state’s economic future.
Understanding the disproportionality of and instability of our state revenues; now, while we have surplus state funds, is the time to address recalibrating our tax and revenue structure in order to address the state’s long-term fiscal survival.
California’s leaders must set aside agendas of well-funded interests and aggressively address our poverty rate and income disparity – focusing first on education and vocational training, plus modern parameters around building and construction to address our significant housing needs.
The very people who are most impacted by government’s actions are often those with the least access to political power. At a time when misinformation and mistrust in government is undermining our democracy, our leaders must embrace a new level of transparency that empowers the public to meaningfully engage the process as major policies are being crafted and enacted.
The lack of affordable housing threatens the ability of younger Californians to realize the same dreams as prior generations; government and the private sector must collaborate to address barriers so that all who want to live, work and raise families here have access to affordable rental and home ownership opportunities.
Our public education system is one of our greatest priorities; and our ability to educate our young people and provide them opportunity for higher learning is critical to our economic success and a brighter future for all of California.
Affordability is the single biggest challenge our state faces – whether it’s buying your first home, paying for a college education, running a small business or planning for the future, California has become unaffordable for the vast majority of our residents.
Living in the age of data, we need to better learn how to use best practices from throughout the world to solve the challenges we face in education, transportation and reducing the income equality gap.
Our state’s greatest needs are to restore the safeguards to public safety adopted in the 80s and 90s that are required to reverse our rising crime rate, to reform our public school system through expanding charter schools and similar opportunities for parental choice, and regain the discipline in borrowing and spending required to avoid further loss of investment and jobs.
California voters deserve concrete, truthful information to remedy the half truths promoted by their political leaders about the financial, political, environmental and educational situations that exist.
Our challenge is to create economic opportunity for those who have little or none, inclusion and justice for communities that feel left out, especially women and people of color, and to unleash California’s creative and progressive spirit to address chronic problems such as climate change, homelessness, our inadequate health care system and the extraordinary cost of higher education.
Biggest challenge leaders face is how to allocate limited state budget resources when the economy takes a downturn and revenue to the state budget craters!
Until our schools truly reflect the incredible potential of the students who attend them, no elected California leader should be sleeping soundly at night.
The single biggest challenge facing California today is liberal, single-party dominance of policymaking and enforcement in Sacramento; power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, leaving many citizens feeling increasingly alienated from the ruling elites who are out of touch with the ordinary man and woman in California.
Should we be focused on the American ideal of individual liberty and individual responsibility, or is the best path for Californians an ever increasing reliance on state government?
Our leaders must embrace our demographic shifts and increased racial, ethnic and religious diversity, value it through both words and action, and firmly and consistently oppose competing forces that seek to push a white supremacist or nativist agenda.
Our collective conscience demands compassionate, meaningful solutions to homelessness. #takeaction
The single biggest challenge facing our leaders is managing the extraordinary economic, social and racial changes transforming California.
If voter turnout is one measure of the strength of our democracy then California leaders must work to not only increase turnout but also to ensure that California’s electorate reflects its diversity to secure a better future for our state.
The biggest challenge our leaders must confront is to set aside the narrow, artificial, and simplistic boxes of partisan politics in favor of the inherently more complex process of public policymaking.
Our leaders' biggest challenge is finding new ways to tap into and fully cultivate the potential of every one of our diverse communities. If we can inspire and successfully educate every school kid in the state, solutions to most of our other challenges will naturally follow.
California’s biggest challenge is lack of civic engagement from underrepresented communities; until we have an electorate that accurately reflects California, we cannot be assured of a better future for all Californians.
Pension costs are eating a hole in California’s future, and our elected leaders will need to show courage to deal with these mushrooming obligations that will consume local governments and eventually crush the middle class.
The greatest challenge to California’s leaders to secure a better future is how do they fairly restructure California government’s system of taxation and spending in order to pay for pension liabilities, housing, homelessness and other pressing issues without bankrupting the state.
The single biggest challenge facing California is that of inclusion and opportunity to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to be included in the California Dream, to have access to education, a fair wage and a chance to own their own home.
Improve education at all levels so that Californians will be qualified for the jobs that will be available.
Our leaders must confront the enormous wealth inequality in California, with the most disadvantaged dealing with homelessness, poor schools, food uncertainty and inadequate medical care.
The future success of our state depends on the ability of our leaders to look past extreme partisanship, political showmanship, and tribal divisions to find solutions that will expand access to educational and economic opportunity for more Californians.
California has the highest poverty rate in the country and most people don’t trust or honestly expect politicians to do anything about that.
Our state’s civic and economic future is dependent on increasing college graduation rates among California’s diverse populations by creating an affordable, high-functioning postsecondary educational system that supports students and allows them to enter the workforce prepared to participate fully.
Housing, diminished public investment in higher education, high taxes and crumbling infrastructure – the greatest challenge will be to sustain the California Dream in light of these, and other, existential threats.
I believe the biggest problem confronting California in the next decade is its employee and retiree pension obligation.
Far too many working adults are stuck in low-wage jobs because they lack a college/technical credentials, thus, in order for us to maintain a middle-class and restore the luster of the Golden State, we must find ways to help these Californians earn an industry-valued credential quickly.
California needs to create an economy that delivers on both prosperity and inclusion – and that will require a new social compact weaving together groups, generations, and geographies.
We must harness the power of social enterprise, public investment, and philanthropy to dramatically reduce poverty and engage the full diversity of California’s residents.
Our leaders must aggressively address the disconnect that many people feel from their civic and electoral institutions; inclusive engagement and advocacy are critical to meeting the needs of all Californians.
Courage to tackle racial inequality in education for K-12 and higher education in order to finally close racial gaps and ensure that our diverse population of Californians is well prepared for the workforce of tomorrow.
Our leaders must develop long-term solutions to California’s generational challenges of education, water, transportation, environment – bolstered by commensurate sustainable investments in support of those answers – despite the brevity of our political cycles.
California’s changing demographics and rising population presents an opportunity, more than just a challenge, for our leaders to transform our economic and political landscape to create a more equitable distribution of resources across all communities statewide.
Our leaders must prioritize the early learning, health and well-being of young children in policy and budget decisions, for this will shape the collective future of our state.
The deterioration of living standards: inadequate health care, housing, living wage jobs and environmental degradation for millions of working class people and families throughout the state.
A hostile tax and regulatory environment that is driving California businesses and middle class out of state.
California’s leaders must confront the challenge of climate change, lack of affordable housing and the impact of automation on worker displacement in the midst of epic levels of income inequality.
California’s biggest challenge is economic inequality, particularly as it relates to the percentage of children living in poverty.
I believe the biggest challenge for the next governor is growing a healthy and equitable economy for all Californians as it has an impact on a variety of issues ranging from housing and health care to higher education access and criminal justice.
Eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels is the biggest single challenge we must confront. Fossil fuel use is at the heart of air pollution and climate change, and the suffering and billions upon billions of dollars in damage these problems cost us each year.
We must get those on the different sides of our state's issues to talk to each other, rather than yelling over one another. Our best future will be built when we can take the energy and ideas that all sides have, resist divisiveness, and work together to find solutions.
Improve the business climate to drive new investments, innovation and middle-class job creation.
The most important challenge we all face is how to slow the warming of our planet, so that we can balance the priorities of protecting our natural surroundings, preserving our quality of life, and growing our economy.
How do we create good jobs that improve the quality of life for working people?
Among many challenges, our next governor and the state Legislature must join in a redesign of California’s approach to housing production in order to address the issue that has become our state’s economic and social Achilles heel.
Our highest priority must be maintaining a robust economy so California can provide its residents with a good quality of life and funding for education and health care.
The biggest challenge is to earn the confidence of millions of Californians who are disillusioned, disadvantaged and deprived of power and the opportunity for health and well-being.
Voter disengagement -- every challenge is solvable with the voices of our neighbors, our friends, our family in the debate.
We must engage all Californians in decision-making at every level so that all residents have a voice in basic services such as public safety, effective schools, affordable housing, accessible health care, safe drinking water, neighborhood parks.
Our leaders must figure out how to address income inequality, which affects everything, including access to health care, good and affordable education, and decent housing.
California’s leaders must work to improve the economic viability and upward mobility of poor and middle-class families.
The biggest challenge that we must address across the state is the impact of innovation on the future of work; we must seriously and soberly address the reality that many jobs performed today by hard-working Californians may disappear in the years ahead.
As demographics shift to a non-white majority by 2043, and the political polarization gap expands, we need to recognize cultural and community trigger points and find ways to work toward common goals with people with whom we may initially or even perpetually disagree.
We must figure out how to ensure that all Californians have lifelong, culturally competent education, from pre-K to workforce to ensure success in a changing world.
Recognizing our state’s incredible geographic, ethnic, cultural and religious diversity, leaders must reject “one-size-fits-all” policies and instead embrace subsidiarity.
Our leadership must boldly address the lack of access to quality jobs in California that provide livable wages, health benefits, and the means to meet our basic human needs.
Our leaders need to push beyond the politics of education reform, and work toward solutions that improve student performance across all demographics and empower them to be competitive in a new and changing marketplace.
California’s greatest challenge is to remain true to its past. Since statehood it has been a place of opportunity, innovation and social progress which were the result of a strong middle class. All is at risk without addressing our shortage of housing, needed improvements in public education and infrastructure investment.
We need ethical, future-focused leaders who understand the major changing dynamics across our globe and can envision how to maintain California’s status as a democratic, pluralistic, economic and social innovator for the world.
Our political leaders must recognize that many major issues, such as water, tax reform, homelessness, pension reform, low performing schools, criminal justice reform, can no longer be substantively ignored, if we want a brighter future for California, because of a failure to accommodate enough diverse opinions to fashion workable solutions.
Equity for all: We must rethink systems rooted in bias and re-imagine our disadvantaged communities to unlock limitless opportunities that ensure California is a Golden State for all.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for our future leaders is that there isn't just one issue occurring in a vacuum, so their solutions must be innovative and multi-faceted to address the many ways that people are suffering, disempowered, and disillusioned.
It's a challenging and divisive time in our country, Californians must lead and show the world that diversity and inclusion makes America great.
Our leaders must address the growing divide in income inequality; we have to figure out a way for California’s ever-growing and diverse population to have access to equal opportunities to success.