It has been another extraordinarily difficult year. It all started with a shocking spectacle: a violent attack on the Capitol of our country by a crowd determined to delegitimize a presidential election. Bitter partisan disagreements throughout the year informed responses to a relentless pandemic and severe economic disruption. In California, a recall for governor prompted a deeply divided, hyper-partisan electorate to vote in a predetermined election in a state where Democrats hold a 22 point advantage in voter registration. voters.
Despite these difficult times, we at PPIC want to assert our belief in the power of shared knowledge and facts to counter the forces of division and conflict. Today, our work seems more important than ever, especially since non-partisan, objective and rigorous analysis must compete for attention in a world awash with misinformation. We remain committed to delivering events based on constructive and respectful dialogue – with diverse voices across the political spectrum – that aim to confront and resolve the state’s most pressing issues.
This year, as in 2020, many of California’s long-standing challenges have been highlighted – and exacerbated – by the COVID-19 crisis. But the crisis has also spurred action on many fronts. Through our website and interactions with stakeholders, PPIC has provided essential facts and information that have helped state leaders measure and manage the impact of the pandemic on education, health and welfare, economy, etc. We also looked at the many ways COVID-19 has changed our condition, as well as the impact of state and federal relief and recovery efforts.
As California looks to the future, policymakers must find common ground on what a fair recovery might look like in a pandemic and what the state should do to promote it. Through rigorous research and conversations with a wide range of stakeholders, PPIC has focused on key issues across policy areas, helping heads of state find sustainable and equity-focused approaches. to meet long-term challenges.
- Drought and forest fires. California’s battle against increasingly extreme weather events makes the work of the PPIC Water Policy Center more critical than ever. Reports on improving water markets, overhauling forest management to prevent extreme forest fires, and identifying long-term strategies for groundwater sustainability have offered practical and sustainable approaches to manage the state’s precious natural resources.
- Reminder of elections. In the run-up to the gubernatorial recall, the PPIC Statewide Survey provided vital insight into the views of voters in California. A series of blog posts on the recall – and the potential for reform – offered insight into the past, present and future of this much-discussed tool of direct democracy.
- Criminal justice. PPIC research has found stark disparities between racial / ethnic lines in the experience of law enforcement in California, from police checks to use of force, with black Californians much more likely than others to live. both.
- Educational opportunity. In a series of blogs on the geography of educational opportunities, the Center for Higher Education at PPIC has identified areas where historically under-represented students are making great strides and where improvements are needed. The centre’s work also highlighted policies, such as dual enrollment and remedial education reforms, which have expanded students’ access to and completion of college courses.
- Economic mobility and inequalities. Equity and opportunity are key to California’s future and PPIC’s work. In our last PPIC Statewide Survey of the year, seven in ten Californians said the gap between the rich and the poor is widening in their part of the state. Most Californians support policies that close this gap, and strong majorities support policies ranging from tuition-free college to increased funding for skills training and expanded child care services. for low-income working parents.
We reach our audience with a wide range of content, from in-depth reports and blog posts to video briefings, and our social media presence has grown in leaps and bounds. Our online events, from small briefings to large-scale conferences, have engaged Californians statewide. Finally, our newly redesigned website features new products and tools that highlight relevant and timely information from PPIC. Our goal is to make our resources easier to read, use and share.
Our work has impacted policy development in Sacramento and across the state. The PPIC was cited in the text of the bill or in the analysis of 71 bills during the 2020-2021 legislative session, of which 35 were enacted. A range of national and local decision makers, from higher education leaders to directors of water agencies, also cited the work of PPIC.
Over the coming year, as California adapts to a rapidly changing political environment, PPIC will focus on equitable, effective and efficient solutions to a wide range of policy challenges. Over the next few months we will be addressing a variety of critical issues including K-12 funding and student outcomes, the multifaceted effects of the current drought, public opinion in an election year to high stakes and strategies to improve economic opportunities in our state.
As always, we will aim to inspire productive dialogue and thoughtful action to build a better future for our state.
Watch our brief video from 2021 in review