By Claire Chevallier
Sacramento | On July 10th, 2019, the Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce held a Meet and Greet event with 7th District Assemblymember Kevin McCarty and invited their team to join. A former city council member of Sacramento, McCarty spoke about various issues, highlighting the crucial role of education accessibility in creating equal opportunity and meaningful employment.
This is the second time our local Chamber held a Meet and Greet with the Assemblymember. The event was held at Classy Hippie Tea Co, one of the Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber’s members. We at the CalAsian Chamber had the opportunity to sit back and listen to the conversation and see how Asm. McCarty’s priorities impact small businesses from across the state.
McCarty began by presenting his plan to improve career technical education (CTE) in public schools, which he claims would help give students expanded access to their desired careers.
“Now you can teach people coding… schools now have programs about healthcare careers,” McCarty said. “You can motivate [students] to learn in a different way and give them a pipeline to the jobs they want.
Another one of McCarty’s goals is to expand access to early learning. Well known for his push to codify universal Pre-K, McCarty cited Assembly Bill 123 as a key solution to societal inequality.
To make higher education more accessible, McCarty supports reducing student debt by making community college tuition-free. He expressed the rising costs of tuition and college expenses greatly hinders the workforce and subsequent generations. Consequently, he said there needs to be more efforts devoted to helping young people graduate and find employment.
Business and Housing
To ensure students are equipped to seek the best suited careers, McCarty noted the need for schools to consider the skills desired by local employers. In reference to the loss of Sacramento construction workers to the Bay Area due to higher wages, he insisted on the need to develop a school to career pipeline.
“We’re telling local schools and communities to talk to their local chambers of commerce to see what their business needs are there,” he said.
Homelessness, Opioid Crisis and Mental Health
On the topic of career pipelines, McCarty discussed the tendency for the homeless to remain local. He stated that homelessness is closely related to issues of mental illness and addiction, emphasizing the need from a holistic approach to address these nation-wide epidemics. In addition to shelters, he noted, the city must provide increased services and programs.
McCarty addressed the tendency for marginalized demographics, especially people of color and formerly incarcerated individuals, to get left behind. He stressed that leaving these people out impacts the entire society, highlighting the need for state and local policies that would aid these communities.
“Back in the day, you could live in Oak Park with a blue collared job,” he said. “This economy today will punish [people] if we don’t step up and increase education.”
Citing the role of the pharmaceutical industry in creating the opioid crisis, he shared about his ongoing collaboration with Assemblymember James Gallagher on Assembly Bill 1468 to address the addiction epidemic in California.
An audience member asked why Sacramento has a higher than average rate of human trafficking and what can be done to fix the issue.
McCarty responded by explaining that the epidemic manifests itself particularly in Sacramento due to the region’s geographical location as an intersection of interstate highways. In addition to the city’s purpose as a hub and port of trade and commerce, he cited the region’s profitable industry of criminal enterprise as a plausible reason for the abundance of human trafficking in the region.
“It’s extremely sad. We need to step up and identify it,” he said. “A lot of it is talking about it, hearing about it. If you see something that doesn’t look right, say something.”
He indicated that he is working with Senator Dr. Richard Pan to expand research programs and services for victims of human trafficking.
McCarty will serve seven more years in the legislature, focusing on education and criminal justice reform as his legislative priorities.
“It’s an exciting time in California. Through all our woes in California and Sacramento, we have a lot that’s being done, and a lot of work to do,” he said.