Schwarzenegger Returns from China to Face Grim Reality

For Immediate Release:
November 16, 2005

Contacts: Jonathan Adams, ARC, Tel: (646) 502-8843

Lawmakers Decry Dramatic Failure of Governor's Policies for Blacks, Latinos, Asians


Oakland, CA—In the wake of California's special election, the Applied Research Center joined members of the state assembly to present the findings of the California Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity 2005 evaluating the Governor and state legislature on key legislation effecting communities of color. Legislators and political organizations from across the state revealed the disappointing grades received by the legislature and Governor on larger than life report cards and demanded public policies that reverse racial disparities.

"Governor Schwarzenegger lacks the political will, and the legislature a cohesive plan, to address the needs of California's growing majority - people of color," said Tammy Johnson, Public Policy Director at the Applied Research Center and one of the report's authors. "Today committed lawmakers and advocates publicly displayed the findings and discussed innovative policy solutions that will close the gap on racial disparities in California."

The 2005 Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity evaluates and grades the Governor and members of the Legislature on their responses to eighteen pieces of legislation that would have the most direct positive impact on communities of color. The report card is broken down into five issue areas: educational equity, economic justice, health equity, civil rights, and criminal justice. Governor Schwarzenegger was presented a "D" for racial equity in 2005 from advocates and lawmakers including Oakland State Assemblymember Wilma Chan.

"While the Governor wastes time and money pushing unfair initiatives in special elections, he consistently rejects attempts by the California legislature to address persistent racial disparities," noted Chan whose "Health Access for Kids" bill was killed by the Governor's veto earlier this year. "While paying lip-service to the needs of Black, Latino, Asian and Native communities, he has rejected at every turn the policies that can make those promises a reality."

Key Findings:

Legislative Report Card 2005

    •    The Assembly received a C and the Senate a D grade for support of racial equity in California;

    •    Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed 8 of 18 racial equity reforms; a 56 percent rating equating to a D average;

    •    Five racial equity bills received strong bipartisan support;

    •    Districts with highest percent populations of people of color were most likely to support racial equity;

    •    There were many Missed Opportunities where racial-conscious policies were undermined through the legislative process.

Failure of Race-Blind Policies in California

    •    California high school graduation rates are only 60 percent for Latinos, 57 percent for Blacks;

    •    Only one in four high school graduates of color is college-ready in California, compared to 40 percent of whites;

    •    Blacks and Latinos are nearly three times more likely to live in poverty than whites. Half of Latinos, 43 percent of Blacks, and a quarter of Asians live in or near poverty in California.

Co-Sponsors of the California Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity 2005 include:

    •    California Pan-Ethnic Health Network

    •    California Church Impact

    •    Californians for Justice

    •    California NAACP