The Greenlining Institute is fighting to address the immediate impacts of COVID-19 while confronting the U.S.’s longstanding history of policy-driven inequity. Now more than ever our movement must embrace equity, ensuring that those experiencing the most hurt feel the most care. To ensure a just recovery, policies must turn equity commitments into actionable strategies in our state’s response to the crisis.
Establish a council made up of leaders from priority communities that reports directly to the Governor, Senate Pro Tempore, and the Speaker of the Assembly. The council will share information on COVID-19 recovery needs in priority communities as well as concepts for community-led transformation. The council can also help ensure policy and regulatory implementation is accountable to California's commitment to equity. In addition, all community residents in the state should also be able to access and participate in public decision-making processes (e.g., remote public meetings and hearings in the legislature or at agencies) during the pandemic through strategies such as early notification, longer public comment periods, and multiple access options.
We also urge the legislature to move swiftly to pass ACA 5 to enable the repeal of Prop. 209, which is holding back millions of dollars of economic activity and is out of step with 44 of the 50 states. The COVID-19 crisis has illuminated clear, race-specific inequities, with racial and ethnic groups that have historically been discriminated against and marginalized suffering both elevated death rates and more severe economic harm. Race-specific problems simply cannot be solved by race-neutral means.
The Office of Equity would identify existing policies and practices in the state that contribute to, uphold, or exacerbate racial disparities. It would also enact measures to support capacity building and provide technical assistance for state agencies to invest in strategies for racial equity, including employee training and support, development of racial equity programming, and assistance to departments to change departmental policies and practices to improve racial equity outcomes.
- Investments must be targeted to priority communities, delivering real benefits to Californians who live closest to and are most socioeconomically vulnerable to pollution and climate change. California must reaffirm the state’s commitment to invest in priority communities established by SB 535 (De León, 2012) and AB 1550 (Gomez, 2016). The state should seek to exceed the 35 percent minimum target for investments in priority communities;
- Investments must be community-driven;
- Investments must significantly address the needs of priority communities and maximize benefits;
- Investments must avoid creating or exacerbating burdens. In a COVID-19 world, we cannot afford to make investments that are harmful to priority communities;
- Investments must be multi-sectoral to achieve transformation. For example, investments in broadband infrastructure projects should incentivize the use of clean energy.
- Investments must operationalize equity by:
- Embedding equity in the mission, vision, and values of investment programs;
- Building in equity into the program’s process;
- Ensuring equity outcomes via implementation; and
- Measuring and analyzing for equity.