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We’re excited to share the last section of our report on the California Democratic Party’s work under Chairman Burton from 2009-2017: The Burton Legacy: Empower the Grassroots, Build for the Future. You can view the full report here, and this sixth message will highlight the final section entitled “Proof is in the Pudding.”

Central to Chairman Burton’s tenure at the California Democratic Party has been the idea that, in order to empower the grassroots, we must be on the same page politically.

This administration has made that our priority, and we have worked hard to ensure that our activists have the tools and trainings to run programs, affect change, and win.

Our partnership with the grassroots has made the following electoral successes possible:

  • We took back the governor’s house and kept it, despite being outspent 6:1.
  • We won all the statewide offices and kept them (twice!).
  • We won 2/3 of the State Legislature.
  • We kept California’s US Senate seats in Democratic hands.
  • We picked up 6 congressional races in 2012, and another seat in 2014, and kept them all in 2016.
  • We passed the Majority Vote Budget measure to stop the budget being held ransom by Republicans.
  • We defeated an anti-labor proposition which would have taken away our voice.
  • We passed a tax to increase funding for our schools.
  • We passed a tobacco tax to increase funding for health and human services.
  • We passed two essential Criminal Justice Reform measures — Propositions 47 and 57.
  • We safeguarded California’s water supply to save money to protect schools and public safety services from budget cuts in future recessions.
  • Republican registration dropped from 31.1% to an all time low of 25.9%, and Democrats pushed our lead to a historic 19 points.

Our partnership with the grassroots has also led to many policy victories, including:

  • Passing the California DREAM Act to open the door for all students to attend college, regardless of their immigration status.
  • Repealing the Maximum Family Grant rule.
  • Expanding early care options for working families.
  • Raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2022.
  • Passing one of the nation’s strongest equal pay laws.
  • Boosting renewable energy sources like wind and solar to 50% and doubling the energy efficiency of buildings by 2030.
  • Prohibiting discrimination against transgender people by companies doing business with the state.
  • Passing bills to prevent oil spills and strengthen the state’s response to future spills.
  • Passing the California Motor Voter Act.
  • Combating wage theft to ensure hardworking Californians are paid.
  • Passing the Climate Change Pact together with the leaders of other states and countries to reduce greenhouse gases and promote clean energy.
  • Approving a 2015-16 state budget that increased per-pupil K-12 spending by $3,000, froze tuition costs at the UC and CSU systems through 2017, put billions of dollars into rainy day reserves, and expanded health insurance through Medi-Cal for children from low-income families, regardless of their immigration status.
  • Ensuring health care for nearly 4 million uninsured Californians under the Affordable Care Act.
  • Approving issuing state driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.
  • Implementing online voter registration, making it easier for Californians to register to vote.
  • Passing the Middle Class Scholarship, which slashed student fees at UC and CSU by up to 40% for families making under $100,000.
  • Passing the Homeowner Bill of Rights to help stop fraudulent foreclosures and predatory lending practices and repair the damage of the foreclosure crisis.

For more highlights from Chairman Burton’s legacy, click here.

Now, it’s time to hand off the baton to new leaders and their staff. We hope that the new leadership will take the substantial gains we’ve made and push a progressive agenda for all Californians further than ever before.

To that we say in peace and friendship:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.


Shawnda Westly
Senior Strategist
California Democratic Party