California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) blasted the financial industry in a speech calling for educational reform.
At the California Democrats State Convention in Sacramento on Saturday, Steinberg touted the party's recent victories in the state.
"No more cuts to education, to health care, to public safety, or help for those in need," he remarked. "Our opportunity to invest and re-invest will soon be upon us. But frankly it is not just how government invests its money that matters, for some of the darkest days in our country over the last decade came with the revelations about abuse in the financial system -- abuses that caused real people to lose so much that they had to work so hard to earn and save. There was and in many ways continues to be a disease in our financial system. A premium was placed on something for nothing. High rates of return came to those who simply developed expertise in manipulating numbers."
"This culture of something for nothing is a far cry from our Democratic Party values, for we place a premium on investing in people," Steinberg continued. "Above all we prize investment in human potential, and so I ask today, what if we took this whole notion of investing and we shifted it from producing nothing, from chasing wealth for wealth's sake to a very different kind of proposition. Today, I offer a different IPO. A California IPO. I propose that we make it more profitable for California businesses to invest in California's high schools than a Wall Street hedge fund."
The rest of Steinberg's speech was devoted to supporting his Workforce Development Bond Act of 2013, which would allow businesses to invest in job training programs. He said the business-school partnerships would prepare California students for a "high wage economy."
He portrayed current efforts to reform education as merely an attack on teachers and their unions.
"Is it really the most important reform, the most important issue to make it easier to fire struggling teachers?" Steinberg remarked. "I think not."
Watch video, uploaded to YouTube, below: