09/02/2011 08:12 am ET Updated Nov 01, 2011

The Future of the Golden State

Today I engaged in a thoughtful discussion with USC Professor Manuel Pastor and local business leaders in Los Angeles regarding one of the most pressing questions facing Californians: the need for investment in jobs now and in educating our future workforce.

Throughout its history, California has boasted an entrepreneurial and innovative spirit supported by a hard-working workforce. The Golden State achieved its enviable prosperity through the contributions of its people and through one of its storied institutions, the University of California. And yet, today, California faces double-digit unemployment and our system of higher education is in peril.

What California needs to brighten our economic future is a renewed, bipartisan commitment to investing in job creation and education. In 2025, California is projected to be short nearly one million college graduates just to keep pace with our presently challenged economy.

One million college degree holders. This is the deficit of our times.

We must reverse course if we are to ensure our economic success. A successful California will depend on an educated workforce that can compete and win in this knowledge economy, investing in education, and in underserved populations, is a necessity.

Our state currently has more than 3 million Latino students, accounting for roughly half of all children in public schools. Given this demographic picture, now is not the time to reduce funding for programs like ESL who serve students facing significant achievement barriers. But that is exactly what Sacramento leaders have done.

We must recognize that the fate of California's Latino children is tied to the future of our state. Our state must invest in their education from preschool through college. For this reason, I encourage Governor Brown to sign the second part of the California Dream Act, to reinvest in ESL and ensure the many talented young people we have already invested in - can fully contribute to the recovery and growth of our economy.

Investing in jobs and education are the keys to securing prosperity and opportunity for Californians and for all Americans. Latinos are and will remain a core part of the plan to a brighter future.