Measuring California’s Progress on Income Inequality

California is bursting with cash – $ 100 billion, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom.

While much of the federal aid and taxes of the rich will be used to provide basic services such as education and health care, the windfall also offers a unique opportunity to tackle one California’s toughest problem: income inequality.

As the pandemic exacerbates a pre-existing wealth gap that has disproportionately hurt women and people of color, the California Divide’s five editorial team has found tenants bracing for an eviction tsunami, residents struggling with water bills, parents in debt for life on child support, and students unable to access stable broadband to learn.

Expectations are high for a turnaround. Already, experts have speculated that federal relief alone could be enough to halve child poverty in California.

Our dashboard is meant to be a gauge of California’s response.

As the Governor and the Legislature debate spending priorities, our team is interested in monitoring the effects on the ground: How is the state using its surplus to improve lives? Are low-income workers making gains over those at the top? Can tenants pay rent in the area where they live? Is Child Poverty Reducing?

Through these questions, we hope to verify whether the state is on the right track for a more equitable economic recovery.

How much federal stimulus money are we getting?

A significant chunk of federal aid goes straight into people’s pockets in the form of stimulus checks, unemployment benefits and emergency rent relief.

But state and local governments will benefit from billions to help close deficits, boost education spending and increase public aid programs.

Click on each rectangle to see more details.

How much do we spend on the state budget?

In the case of the state, Newsom and lawmakers also have a surplus to spend.

In his latest budget proposal, the Democratic governor has charted a course to expand preschool, summer and after-school programs. He also wishes to extend the Golden state stimulus to the middle class, among a long list of ideas.

Hover over each rectangle to see more details.

Who can find work?

And what is the pay gap?

How much does a house cost?

And can tenants afford rent?

What is the poverty rate?

And how many people are hungry?

The CalMatters team Judy Lin, John Osborn D’Agostino, Jackie Botts and Nigel Duara contributed to this story.

This article is part of California Divide, an editorial collaboration examining income inequality and economic survival in California.

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