(Inside California Politics) — Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) is traveling across the state as part of her campaign to become California’s next senator when long-serving Sen. Dianne Feinstein retires in 2025.
Porter sat down with FOX40’s Eytan Wallace to discuss a number of issues facing the state.
Porter, a proponent of green energy, said that the government needs to take deliberate care of the tens of thousands of workers in the fossil fuel industry in areas such as Bakersfield and Contra Costa County.
“California is going to need to continue to have an ‘all of the above’ energy approach but we’re also going to need to make that transition,” Porter said. “And as we do, the question is can we make sure as we transition, slowly, away from fossil fuels to greener energy that we don’t leave any workers behind.”
Porter believes that the government must act, saying private enterprise is unlikely to help those who lose jobs.
“And we know that if we just take big corporations’ word for it workers will get left behind,” Porter said. “And we’ve seen the research on this, for example from the (UC Berkeley Labor Center), that when people lose their fossil fuel jobs if we’re not very intentional and don’t have a strategy they end up making less than they did before. We can’t let that happen.”
Porter also voiced support for numerous other worker groups in the state including striking writers and actors.
“The performers and writers are really striking about the future of work,” Porter said. “They’re calling attention to Artificial Intelligence and changes in technology are going to mean for the creation and retention of good high-paying jobs here in California.”
The congresswoman from Orange County said union fights often benefit the public.
“What we’re seeing is that unions are fighting not just for workers but for all of us,” Porter said. “Yesterday at the (Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West’s) Labor Day rally, they’re fighting for things like staffing ratios to make sure that we have enough healthcare workers.”
“That when you push that ring button and you’re at a hospital bed that there are enough nurses,” Porter said. “…The Teamsters taking on autonomous vehicles are fighting not just to make sure that there are jobs for people who drive trucks but also that we’re all safe…”
“I would say that over and over again what I see is organized labor really being a tool and standing up to big corporations, something I’ve taken a lot of pride in doing in Washington, and really being a partner in those fights for patients, for consumers, for workers and for all of us,” Porter said.
When it comes to one of the most pressing issues the state faces, Porter said homelessness is just a symptom of a larger problem the state faces.
“Chronic street homelessness… that is really the tip of a much, much bigger housing affordability iceberg,” Porter said. “So we can spend the money to put people experiencing homelessness into permanent supportive housing, but if we don’t fundamentally make a big federal investment in making sure workers can afford housing we’re just going to continue to see that population grow and change.”
San Francisco, California’s fourth largest city, is often pointed to as an example of rising homelessness and drug use rates in spite of additional funding directed towards these issues, but Porter said the issues there aren’t all that unique.
“I would say that the challenges that San Francisco is facing may be different in degree than we’re seeing in some places in California but they’re not different in kind,” Porter said. “Fentanyl is costing us lives across California, not just in San Francisco. Homelessness is a problem in really every California community, not just in San Francisco.”
“I think as a federal leader my job is to think about how can we be a good partner in bringing the best solutions we can home to San Francisco, do the learning, see what works and what doesn’t, and then begin to deploy it around California,” Porter said.
The former UC Irvine law professor said she sees the issues facing the average California resident from the same perspective.
“As a single mom of three kids, I go through the same ups and downs of the year as everybody else,” Porter said. “I’m in the grocery store and I’m relieved when cereal comes down a dollar a box. My kids eat a lot of it. Back to school time, thinking, ‘Are there going to be enough teachers are we facing a teacher turnover or burnout challenge following Covid? Are we thinking about the cost of child care and after-school care and thinking about the cost of college?'”
When asked if she supported term limits, Porter stressed having a diversity of ages in Congress.
“We know that diversity makes any decision-making process stronger and that is also true for multi-generational diversity,” Porter said. “So I think it’s important that our Senate, that our Congress that our politics generally have a mix of people from different generations and different ages, just like how we think about that with race, with gender, with any other characteristic.”
“I think it’s important that we keep our Senate and Congress vital and reflecting the full range of America and to do that I think we need to make an investment in multi-generational leadership,” Porter said. “Keep the senior people, keep the experiences, keep the learning and the mentoring but add to it some of the fresh perspectives we have.”