CSUF News Service
In a time when people around the world are feeling anxious about the novel coronavirus pandemic, California State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon spent a frank hour on a video conference on the topic and more with political science students from his alma mater, Cal State Fullerton.
“Politics and Policy Making in America,” taught by Associate Professor of Political Science Sarah Hill, typically provides students with immersive experiences such as visiting the State Capitol and meeting Titan alumni working in politics.
With in-person meetings no longer viable, Rendon, who has two degrees from Cal State Fullerton, a bachelor’s (1992) and a master’s (1994) in political science, logged in to the online course via Zoom on March 24 to answer students’ questions and share their own political journey.
“Prior to the pandemic, students learned general theories and concepts about the policy-making process, as well as the basics of the California government and state legislature,” Hill said. “We will now use these concepts to look at how the government is responding to COVID-19.
“I encouraged students to pay close attention to how the federal government and states work together (or not), the role of executive leadership, how each level of government responds, how politics is developed in a crisis and how that is similar to or different from the normal policy-making process, ”she explained.
“My hope is that students develop a greater appreciation for the role of government and why we need passionate and highly qualified people working at all levels of government. Public service is honorable, necessary and essential for society.
Below is an overview of the conversation between Rendon and the students:
How is the pandemic affecting your office priorities?
About 1,100 people work on the Capitol on a daily basis. Now there are about seven people in the building, including me. The job has changed. I think we brought forward something like 3,300 bills this year; when we resume our session we may have time to hear 600 or 700 of these bills. Right now, we are prioritizing the coronavirus as a policy area.
How is the government working to deal with the coronavirus pandemic?
The state has authorized the governor to spend $ 1 billion on the coronavirus pandemic, exclusively on health issues. The federal relief program will begin to address issues outside of health care. In the long run, the economy is going to be ruined. There are going to be businesses that I will never see again in my neighborhood. And to a large extent, I think it’s up to us Californians to fix the problem. I don’t know if the federal government will help California in this way.
Why is it important for people to take the census and get involved in politics?
The census is extremely important in getting an accurate count of the number of Californians. It determines what percentage of the funds we get for social programs, transportation, veterans, housing programs, education, and whatever else you can think of that comes from the federal government. When it comes to getting involved in politics, what I always say is that there are a lot of ways to get involved. Knowing about the political system doesn’t just prepare you for a job in politics; it prepares you to be a good, engaged citizen.
How is the government addressing the homelessness and affordable housing crisis?
At the state level, a big part of what we can do is allocate funds. The application of these funds and the administration of these funds is really done at the local level. Affordable housing for young people is also on our radar. It’s amazing how divided our society has become between people who own assets and those who don’t. I think these divisions and the resulting levels of resentment threaten our social fabric.
How can students have a say in educational policy decisions?
As a speaker, I sit on the Cal State Board of Trustees and the UC Board of Trustees. The Cal State Board of Directors is meeting in Long Beach, and I really encourage you to attend these meetings and get involved. When you go to these meetings, it’s great to see 40 to 50 students there, but they’re usually the same. Seeing new faces and making sure we hear from you is really important, now more than ever.
What advice do you have for students who are soon graduating and looking to enter the workforce during an economic downturn?
Jobs related to an aging population or early childhood education tend to be fairly stable. I think those are two areas of the economy where you are going to see job growth continue, or at least the decline will not be so severe. Where you’re going to see problems is everything to do with consumable income – arts, entertainment, technology, tourism, travel, restaurants – these areas are going to be hit hard.