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English as a Second Language at California’s Community Colleges: An Early Examination of AB 705 Reforms

November 28, 2022

California's community colleges began implementing Assembly Bill 705 (AB 705) reforms for credit English as a Second Language (ESL) in fall 2021, two years after implementing similar reforms in English and math. With a broad goal of improving success and equity for students pursuing degrees and transfers to four-year colleges, AB 705 reforms are already making notable transformations to ESL placement policies and the ESL courses into which English Learners (ELs) are placed. Building on our previous research, this study reports on the progress colleges have made in implementing AB 705 in ESL across the community college system.

COVID-19 Emergency Funding and California’s Higher Education Systems

November 16, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted higher education in California, forcing students and institutions to adapt rapidly to the public health and economic crisis. Institutions' revenue streams were predicted to decline just as new and increased costs for health, safety, and online education burdened budgets. The federal government provided over $10 billion directly to help campuses and their students weather the crisis. We analyzed these pandemic-related allocation and expenditure patterns across California's higher education landscape.

Priorities for California’s Water: Thriving with Less

November 14, 2022

In the last decade, California—along with the rest of the world—has entered a new phase of climate change. The changes that scientists predicted have started to arrive. California's already variable climate is growing increasingly volatile and unpredictable: The dry periods are hotter and drier, and the wet periods—lately too few and far between—are warmer and often more intense.Across the state, water and land managers are being forced to respond in real time to changes that were once hard to imagine. The snowpack—that once-reliable annual source of water—is diminishing as temperatures rise. Water withdrawals during multiyear droughts are depleting the state's reservoirs and groundwater basins. Hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland come out of production during droughts; further reductions will be needed to restore our groundwater basins to balance. And mammoth floods could eventually devastate our currently parched state. Warming is also intensifying water quality problems, such as harmful algal blooms. These changes are posing widespread challenges for our businesses, communities, and ecosystems—and often hitting low-income residents the hardest.This report considers the state of water in California: What changes are we seeing now, and what should we expect in the near future? Then it examines how these climate shifts will impact urban and rural communities, agriculture, and the environment. Finally, it explores wet-year strategies that will help Californians get through the dry years.

Racial Disparities in Traffic Stops

October 10, 2022

Stark racial inequity has long been a deeply troubling aspect of our criminal justice system. In recent years, traffic stops have emerged as a key factor driving some of these inequities and an area of potential reform. Are there opportunities to identify kinds of traffic stops that could be enforced in alternative ways—potentially improving officer and civilian safety, enhancing police efficiency, and reducing racial disparities—without jeopardizing road safety?To explore this question, in this report we use data on 3.4 million traffic stops made in 2019 by California's 15 largest law enforcement agencies to examine racial disparities in stop outcomes and experiences across time of the day, type of law enforcement agency, and type of traffic violation.

PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and Their Government (May 2022)

May 26, 2022

Every California voter has received a June 7 primary ballot in the mail and they have been weighing their election choices in the midst of disturbing news and unsettling circumstances. Inflation continues to take a daily toll on consumers and dampens their economic outlook. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has turned into a deadly and protracted military conflict. The latest omicron variant is resulting in yet another surge in COVID cases. And Californians are being asked to conserve water in response to the drought while bracing themselves for wildfire season. The one bright spot is Governor Newsom's May revision, which includes a record-setting surplus of revenues available for the state budget.This report highlights key findings of a statewide survey on state and national issues that was conducted from May 12 to 22 by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Health Care Access among California’s Farmworkers

April 25, 2022

Recent federal and state policies may have improved access to health insurance for farmworkers, who are important contributors to California's economy and an essential link in the food supply chain. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) included an expansion of Medi-Cal to most low-income adults, and a mandate requiring companies with at least 50 workers to offer employer health insurance. California also expanded Medi-Cal to young undocumented immigrants, and will soon extend it to older individuals. This report investigates whether these policies coincided with better insurance coverage or reduced barriers to health care for immigrant farmworkers.Farmworkers are aging and more likely to settle in the US with family; thus, their health care needs—and those of their families and children—will likely grow. Cost or lack of insurance are the most salient barriers to health care for farmworkers; few farmworkers note barriers related to immigration status, although being undocumented is a strong predictor of lacking health insurance. Many documented farmworkers have enrolled in Medi-Cal following the ACA expansion, which has increased coverage rates and lowered cost and insurance barriers to health care. Undocumented farmworkers have not fared as well in these areas. Employer health insurance coverage for farmworkers did not change detectably with the rollout of the ACA employer mandate, regardless of a farmworker's documentation status or whether the worker was a direct hire versus a contractor. These findings take on special importance during the coronavirus pandemic. Farmworkers have continued to work during the public health emergency. Yet with California's high cost of housing, many farmworkers live in crowded conditions, making it difficult to remain socially distant from other household members. Although emergency Medi-Cal covers COVID-19 treatment regardless of immigration status, long COVID and resulting disability may threaten farmworkers' health and livelihoods.

PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and Their Government (March 2022)

March 24, 2022

The world order was upended when the Russian military invaded Ukraine, an action that has caused widespread death and destruction. In response, the international community imposed harsh economic sanctions on the Russian government. Californians felt the shock waves through rising prices at the gasoline pump that added further fuel to inflation fears. In recent weeks, COVID-19 cases have plummeted and the omicron surge has given way to an easing of mask and vaccination restrictions. Meanwhile, statewide and legislative candidates for the California June primary made their plans known by the March 11 deadline. This report presents the key findings of a statewide survey on state and national issues conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California from March 6 to 17, 2022.

Equity in Voter Turnout after Pandemic Election Policy Changes

March 2, 2022

To make voting safer during the pandemic, California implemented a number of reforms for the 2020 general election, including mailing every voter a ballot and consolidating in-person voting options in exchange for more early voting alternatives. To inform election administration for an eventual post-pandemic world, we examine how these changes affected the representativeness of the electorate, especially gaps in voter turnout between young people and seniors and between non-Hispanic white people and people of color.

PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and Their Government (February 2022)

February 2, 2022

This year began with the omicron surge, which is causing disruption, uncertainty, and stress for many Californians. Although encouraging signs of an economic recovery are present, rising prices are a worrisome trend for consumers. Governor Newsom and the state legislature are working with a large surplus of revenues for state spending, while President Biden and the US Congress are unable to pass major legislation as partisan divisions loom large following the one-year anniversary of the Capitol insurrection.These are the key findings of a statewide survey on state and national issues conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California from January 16 to 25, 2022:COVID-19, homelessness, and jobs, the economy, and inflation top the list when we asked Californians to name the most important issues for the governor and legislature to work on in 2022.Half of Californians think the state is headed in the right directionTwo in three say the worst is behind us in the coronavirus outbreakAbout half of Californians say that the state is in a recessionA majority of Californians approve of President Biden's performance in office—similar to approval ratings for Governor NewsomAbout four in ten say that the nation is headed in the right directionFifty-three percent are at least somewhat satisfied with the way that US democracy is working

Health Coverage and Care for Undocumented Immigrants: An Update

June 23, 2021

California policymakers continue to weigh strategies for making health insurance universal and health care accessible to all—including for undocumented immigrant residents. The state expanded Medi-Cal to undocumented children and young adults using mostly state funds, and budget negotiations are underway to expand coverage to older undocumented adults. While coverage for all undocumented immigrants has been on the legislative agenda for several years, COVID-19 has underscored how gaps in health insurance coverage for immigrants, fear and avoidance of health care systems, and lack of access to vaccines can have consequences for entire communities.This report updates PPIC's past work on health care and insurance coverage for undocumented immigrants, from presenting updated uninsured rates among immigrant groups to unpacking systematic differences in health care access by documentation status. We also examine aspects of how children in mixed-status families—where at least one member is undocumented—engage with the health care system. 

Vote-by-Mail and Voter Turnout in the Pandemic Election

April 14, 2021

States across the country took extraordinary steps to increase voting by mail for the 2020 election in an effort to minimize in-person contact and virus transmission risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. The biggest such policy change involved mailing every voter a ballot by default. California took additional steps toward facilitating vote-by-mail—such as a statewide ballot tracking system and a later deadline for receiving ballots that had been postmarked by election day—and many counties in the state also adapted their options to accommodate in-person voting.California is now debating making universally mailed ballots a permanent feature of the state's elections moving forward, through AB 37. The state has already committed (through SB 29) to extending the approach through 2021, including for any gubernatorial recall election that may occur. At the same time, other US states plan to return to a version of their pre-pandemic approaches or may introduce policies to constrain voting by mail.In this report, we analyze a wide range of data to identify how recent policy decisions affected voter turnout.

Immigrants in California

March 24, 2021

A fact sheet that provides a brief overview of the state of immigrants in and immigration to California as of March, 2021, examining factors such as immigration status, education, language skills, and the overall rate of immigration to the state.