Civil Rights

California is the Golden State because it gets work done

An old quote has it that "living well is the best revenge." In California, we're putting a twist on that. Governing well is the best resistance.

I have made no secret of my distaste for the sitting president and his policies, but I have also made it clear that I won't devote myself to watching what he does just so I can devise showy reactions.

Conflict may be a way to grab headlines, but I'm more interested in fixing roads, building housing, making our economy sustainable for jobs and the environment, and protecting the rights of Californians. We are on a different path than Donald Trump, and he knows it. That's why he almost didn't bother campaigning here. He hasn't come back since losing badly in the state that is the world's sixth biggest economy.

While the president blusters and flounders and gets little done, here's what California has done in 2017. We focused on providing billions of dollars to fix California's roads, instead of worrying about building a border wall that is an affront not only to Mexico but to Californians. Our plan will save California drivers time and money on reduced auto repairs, instead of promising to get someone else to pay for it.


We worked to raise the minimum wage and boost the state's earned income tax credit to protect low-income workers and encourage others to join the workforce, instead of unsuccessfully floating repeated tax plans that would soak lower incomes to further enrich the super wealthy. We are providing billions of dollars to build affordable homes, offering low-cost home loans for veterans, providing funding to every city for homeless housing projects, and strengthening protections to ensure benefits are realized.

Instead of threatening to take health insurance away from millions of Americans, we've continued our health care exchange and pioneered legislation to put the brakes on runaway drug prices. Instead of building luxury hotels for individual profit, we've made some important gains in making housing more affordable for Californians.

Sadly, there are signs that Trump is making headway in one area. His Environmental Protection Agency chief has shown signs of a willingness to weaken environmental protection through deregulation. In California, however, we have remained committed to the only biosphere we have. When the president refuses to act, we forge international environmental agreements.

We continue to strengthen state emissions rules to cut pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Recently signed budget bills include a $1.45 billion spending plan for revenues from cap and trade that address everything from planning for climate change effects to reducing pollution from diesel trucks.

A final contrast between California and the Trump camp is in how we approach the question of differences and immigration. I can't claim that California has a spotless and pure history. Over time, California has exhibited shameful treatment of immigrants and people of color. But instead of trying to whitewash that history, today we are more prone to acknowledge it as a spur toward better treatment of one another.

It's a moral question, but it's also an economic question, as our state depends on immigrants in technology, in tourism, in an agricultural sector providing much of the nation's food, and in every other sphere. It was that promise of a better life that brought my grandparents here from Mexico, and my wife's family from Vietnam and China.

It all comes down to the reality depicted in a recent editorial cartoon in California newspapers. The cartoon showed the difference between two jurisdictions, dominated by two different political parties. On one side of the cartoon sits Gov. Jerry Brown with an inbox stacked to the top of the panel with legislation to sign. On the other side sits a fuming President Trump with an empty inbox. The California Assembly is in recess right now, but you can bet we'll continue in 2018 with more of the best resistance.

Anthony Rendon is speaker of the California State Assembly.

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