Bonta Commemorates 50th Anniversary Of The War On Poverty

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

(OAKLAND, CA) – Assemblymember Rob Bonta released the following statement today commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the War on Poverty:

“Fifty years ago today, on January 8, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson, in his State of the Union Address, declared a war on poverty in America, pledging to build ‘a nation free from want.’  Many of the programs instituted during the War on Poverty have helped millions of American families improve their standard of living.

“Sadly, much more work still needs to be done.  Today, approximately 16% of Americans still live in poverty, while California has the highest poverty rate in the nation at 23.8%.  Last year, the Legislature took a number of concrete steps to restore the social services safety net after the Great Recession devastated many of the programs in place to help pull people out of poverty. 

“I am proud that California was able to balance our budget without having to make the draconian cuts and services we experienced during the Great Recession.  We passed the Local Control Funding Formula, increasing funding to every school district in the state and providing additional resources for low-income, foster, and English learner students.  We were also the first state to implement the Affordable Care Act.  By 2017, an estimated 2.3 million Californians will be newly enrolled in a health plan through Covered California.  We also passed the highest minimum wage law in the country and I continue to fight in Sacramento for a livable wage and to bring jobs here to the East Bay.

“Roughly one-fourth of all California children (2.3 million) live in poverty, the highest child poverty rate in the country.  Children growing up in poverty experience life-long consequences.  The impacts of poverty harm the academic outcomes of these children living in poverty.  This year’s Assembly budget blueprint continues the progress made last year, and takes direct aim at child poverty by:

  • Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and increasing CalWORKs “Earned Income Disregard” to strengthen the impact of paychecks;
  • Improving county Job Training programs to get CalWORKs recipients back to work as quickly as possible;
  • Creating a CalFresh “add-on” to provide an additional food benefit for California’s poorest children enrolled in CalWORKs; and
  • Providing modest CalWORKs grant increases.

“In his speech 50 years ago, President Johnson said ‘we shall not rest until the war is won.’  I pledge to continue the battle engaged a half century ago and not rest until we lift up the economic conditions of all Californians currently living in poverty,” Bonta concluded.

Assemblymember Bonta represents the 18th Assembly District, which includes Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro. He is the Chair of the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security Committee and the Select Committee on Gun Violence in the East Bay. He is a member of the Assembly Health, Transportation, Banking & Finance, and Elections & Redistricting Committees.