California Lawmakers Address Racial and Economic Inequality through Reform Programs in Silicon Valley

(Foundation For Economic Education)

By Maeve O’Brien

SAN JOSE, CA – California State Senator Dave Cortese (D-Santa Clara) and Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) presented the Silicon Valley Pain Index analysis at Town Hall last Saturday to highlight racial inequity and economic disparities in Santa Clara County, according to a statement from his office.

The Silicon Valley Pain Index, according to the statement from the lawmakers, was produced by the San Jose State University (SJSU) Human Rights Institute, concentrating on economic inequities, the criminal justice system, and workforce development in order to improve racial inequity and poverty.

The Cortese statement noted, “The report is full of startling findings, including that Silicon Valley residents are worth a combined $1.5 trillion, but San Jose leads the nation in youth homelessness.”

Cortese explained the significance of understanding the Silicon Valley Pain Index and the reformative programs that result from it, noting, “The Silicon Valley Pain Index… will break the cycle of homelessness in California by establishing a guaranteed income program for homeless high school seniors exiting high school.”

Kalra added the program connects income programs to a guide for legislative efforts, arguing “These conversations are not just informative, but also serve as crucial tools to guide our legislative efforts concerning labor, housing, and economic policies.’”

The statement quoted Raj Jayadev, coordinator of Silicon Valley De-Bug, who pointed to the harmful impact economic disparities have on the poor and communities of color seen most often through “criminalization and incarceration…to see the wake of the punishing inequity in Silicon Valley, look to those in the back of cop cars, the jails, the juvenile halls, the buses to the state prisons.’”

“Our work with local leadership and agencies is creating a blueprint for change, emphasizing the importance of meaningful employment, guaranteed income models, and mentorship programs,” said

Alexis Roman, director of the Young Women’s Freedom Center of Santa Clara County, noted the lawmaker’s statement.

Executive Director of Working Partnerships USA, Maria Noel Fernandez, added, “At every juncture, we are fighting corporations leveraging their wealth and influence to sway policymakers, bully workers into unjust agreements, and perpetuate narratives that mask their exploitation of communities.”

About The Author

Maeve O'Brien is a second-year UC Davis student, majoring in Political Science and minoring in Human Rights. By joining the Vanguard Court watch, Maeve hopes to expand her journalistic skills, while gaining first-hand experience and perspective. She hopes to carry her passion for social justice advocacy and equity into Law School. She is inspired to be a voice for those undermined by everyday injustice. In her free time, Maeve enjoys swimming, yoga, writing, and spending time with friends and family.

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