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California Justice 40

Policy Details

Policy Type: Policy
Jurisdiction: State — California
Status: Passed
Tags: Development, Gender Justice, JEDI, Labor/Workforce, Public Health

Policy Summary

This summary is from the Gender Equity Policy Institute (GEPI) published in August 2022.

The federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, passed in 2021, represents a significant investment in U.S. infrastructure aimed at addressing a range of needs from roads and bridges to broadband internet and clean energy initiatives. One of its key components is the Justice 40 Program, which pledges to deliver 40% of the overall benefits of federal infrastructure investments to disadvantaged communities, particularly those disproportionately impacted by environmental and economic challenges.

The federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), ( known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) signed by President Biden in November 2021, will bring at least $45 billion to California for investments in transportation, communications, water, clean air, and other infrastructure projects. And with the Inflation Reduction Act on the verge of passage, California stands to benefit from an infusion of federal funds for climate action and drought relief.

States have wide discretion in choosing the types and locations of projects to be funded and hence will play a key role in determining how the $1.2 trillion in federal infrastructure funds will be spent. The Biden administration’s implementation guidance urges states to invest the funds “equitably”, following its Justice40 Initiative, which calls for delivering 40 percent of the benefits of federal investments to disadvantaged and unincorporated communities.

California Assembly Bill (AB-2419), authored by Assembly member Isaac Bryan, would write that goal into state law by mandating that 40% of the IIJA funds directly benefit communities defined as environmentally and socially disadvantaged. The Act calls for an additional 10% of the federal funds to directly benefit communities defined as low-income. The remaining half of IIJA funds could be used for infrastructure projects without restriction.

The Act also would guarantee high labor standards and foster the creation of quality jobs for underrepresented groups. The Strategic Growth Council would be charged with implementing the law. AB 2419 also establishes the Justice40 Committee, comprised of representatives from environmental justice organizations, labor, and disproportionately impacted communities, to monitor implementation and issue recommendations for equitable and sustainable infrastructure investment.

The Gender Equity Policy Institute analyzed demographic data on the communities targeted for infrastructure investment under AB 2419 to assess the likely distribution of funds by race/ethnicity, gender, and region. Our findings show clear benefits to communities that have been disproportionately harmed by decades of discriminatory practices in infrastructure siting and building. Roughly three-quarters of those living in communities targeted for investment are Black, Latino, Asian American, or Native American. Women of color particularly stand to benefit from the targeted infrastructure investment. The bill would require the council, by December 31, 2027, to submit a report to the Legislature on the expenditure of federal funds and an evaluation of the state agencies’ success in meeting the requirements of the bill.

AB-2419 received a rating of 94% on GEPI’s intersectional gender equity scale, indicating that, if enacted, it would powerfully advance gender and racial equity in California. By targeting infrastructure investments to historically under-served and marginalized communities, AB-2419 provides a blueprint for an equitable and transformative approach to infrastructure investment.


Does the policy solution re-distribute power from mainstream institutions to impacted Black community?  

It has the potential to. This bill establishes an advisory committee to ensure that federal infrastructure investments address environmental justice concerns, including impacts on Black communities. It aims to empower impacted communities in decision-making processes related to infrastructure development. Furthermore, 72% of Black women in California live in communities targeted for investment. With more targeted investments, Black people and especially Black women will have more self-determination.

Does this policy address needs impacting diverse groups within Black communities (Black femmes, Black LGBTQ+ communities, Black immigrants, people in poverty, differently abled, people impacted by justice system)? If so, how? 

The Bill advocates for policies that have the capacity to address diverse needs within Black communities, because it emphasizes intersectionality and inclusive community engagement. The bill can also address the needs of diverse groups within Black communities by ensuring representation on the advisory committee including EJ communities and the labor sector. and by requiring consideration of justice and equity impacts in infrastructure investments. Women of color particularly stand to benefit from the targeted infrastructure investment.

Does this policy provide more decision-making power at the hands of Black communities?  

The IIJA promotes community-led solutions and partnerships, suggesting a push towards more decision-making power in Black communities regarding infrastructure projects. The establishment of the advisory committee gives Black communities a platform to influence decision-making on federal infrastructure investments, enhancing their role in shaping policies that affect them.

Does the policy undermine extractive economies like capitalism and restore community power around a local and regenerative economy/ primary production?  

If implemented correctly, the bill’s focus on environmental justice and community benefits suggests a move towards regenerative and local economies by prioritizing sustainable and equitable infrastructure investments that minimize environmental impacts.

Does the policy repair past harm and uphold civil and human rights, health and environmental protections? 

It has the potential to repair past harm and uphold human rights, health and environmental protection. This initiative aims to redress historical inequities by prioritizing funding for clean energy, transportation, and broadband projects that benefit low-income communities, communities of color, and Indigenous communities. By integrating environmental justice principles into infrastructure planning and funding allocation, the Justice 40 Program seeks to promote equity, improve quality of life, and advance sustainable development across the United States.

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