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Could California End Childhood Poverty?

If there’s one state we can call the progressive homeland, it’s most likely California. The state is overwhelmingly Democratic and disproportionately liberal. Democrats hold more than three-quarters of the seats in the legislature, while Governor Gavin Newsom has already demonstrated he’s clearly to the left of his predecessor, Jerry Brown.

Sacramento is abuzz with progressive proposals from both Newsom and the legislators. The governor wants to have Medi-Cal (the state’s Medicaid program, which serves 14 million Californians) bargain directly with drug companies over prices. He also wants the state to fund universal pre-K for four-year-olds. Legislators are mulling over proposals to invest major sums in affordable housing.

Perhaps the most far-reaching set of proposals to come before legislators is that developed by a task force the legislature established two years ago. If enacted in their entirety, the proposals could do something that’s never before happened in the United States: eliminate childhood deep poverty. Many of those proposals have been included in the budget that Newsom has presented to the legislature.

…Jessica Bartholow, a policy advocate at the Western Center on Law and Poverty and a key member of the state’s task force, has long argued that ending poverty is a political decision. But, she says, “I feel like any time I said that before [we created this plan] it was just political rhetoric. Because someone could have said to me, ‘OK, what’s the plan?’ and I wouldn’t have been prepared to answer that question.

“But now we have a plan.”

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