It’s no secret that the 2018 election did not go well for California Republicans. With only 20 seats in the state Assembly, 11 seats in the state Senate, and 7 Republicans in our state’s Congressional delegation, Republicans have our work cut out to regain trust from the California electorate.
California is facing real challenges to our future prosperity and we can no longer bury our head in the sand. To name three examples:
Our education system still does not focus enough attention and resources on workforce-ready, career-oriented education – despite the widening “skills gap” in our economy
The cost of living in our state continues to escalate, yet policymakers often seem blind to the effects of state policy on affordability
We have an aging infrastructure that needs smart modernization befitting our state’s position as a global leader in technology
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Arguably, there has never been a better time to get certified in plumbing, welding, or pipefitting – just to name a few examples. Over the next decade, millions of baby boomers will retire from the skilled trades, widening the “skills gap” even further. Sustained investment in career technical education will unlock enormous potential in our state’s future workers and our economy.
California has the fifth largest economy in the world. Unemployment is at a record low. But these statistics mask the fact that the cost of living in our state continues to outpace wage and salary growth. That’s why it’s critically important for state policymakers to consider the economic impacts of our policies on working families.
Take environmental policy. California’s environment is one of its greatest assets, providing residents and visitors with access to beautiful beaches, stunning national parks and world-class outdoor recreation. We are a global leader in climate change policy and we must continue to protect our natural resources and safeguard the environment.
But we must do this in a way that also protects ordinary Californians from escalating costs. Our environmental policies should provide fiscal safeguards in case of economic downturns and encourage innovation by being “technology-neutral” rather than cherry-picking certain forms of alternative energy production over others.
We also need to modernize our state’s infrastructure in an intelligent and fiscally-responsible way. Fifty years ago, Governor Pat Brown led California into the future with forward-thinking projects like the highway system, higher education master plan, and the California Water Project. Today, we should be exploring infrastructure projects that harness our unequaled technological prowess and hand the baton to future generations.
High speed rail is 20th century technology. We should be exploring 21st century technology, which could include transportation infrastructure to prepare for the revolution in driverless cars, vehicle electrification and even the Hyperloop. Other major infrastructure needs to include a resilient power grid, access to broadband internet, and state-of-the-art water recycling, production, storage and conveyance.
As elected representatives, Republicans have an obligation to engage on these issues, find solutions, and offer our voice and ideas to the process of shaping Californians future. Californians deserve nothing less. After all, “good policy makes good politics.”
Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo) represents California’s 35th Assembly District.
Assemblyman Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley) represents California’s 42nd Assembly District.