Students, faculty and government officials gathered to discuss the future of California Wednesday morning at Town and Gown. “Economic and Political Challenges Facing California,” hosted by the Sol Price School of Public Policy, was part of Dean Jack H. Knott’s first Policy Breakfast Series.The event featured California State Treasurer John Chiang and was moderated by Rodney Ramcharan, an associate professor of public policy and the director of research at the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate. The Price School’s Athenian Society, a philanthropic organization, organized the event. “The impetus for this discussion is to convene civic and business leaders to share their in-depth expertise on critical policy topics and highly debated issues facing our communities,” Knott said. “Our aim is to inspire constructive dialogue and foster a community of engaged and informed citizens.”After Knott outlined some of the issues California currently faces, including economic inequality and other fiscal challenges, Ramcharan began the dialogue by asking about Chiang’s economic background and the duties that ensue as the overseer of California’s investments and finances. Chiang explained that he is the state banker who is responsible for California’s daily investments. “On a daily basis, we are investing about $80 billion in short-term cash, and our principal statutory charges is to make sure we don’t lose capital,” Chiang said.Chiang stated that as the child of immigrant parents, he has experienced discrimination from an early age, which inspired him to work in public service. He established himself as a liberal with strong values that focused on the themes of love and support, which propelled him make a difference in improving lives. “Equal rights are important, and what’s bad about liking and valuing each other? I get to to make laws that try to help people,” Chiang said.Ramcharan asked Chiang about climate change and the impact it has on California and its funding. As an agricultural state that commonly experiences droughts, California, Chiang explained, should expect regulatory and legislative changes that would allow the state to more efficiently use its water. Chiang also said that the state needs to consider pricing mechanisms and market intervention in order to fix the issues it faces.Ramcharan also inquired about DebtWatch, an award-winning website Chiang created in 2015 that enables the public to view three decades of debt-related information issued by state and local governments. “I put up the history of $1.5 trillion worth of borrowing by all levels of government in the last 30 years in the state of California,” Chiang said.Chiang stressed the importance of transparency in the current economic and political situation, stating that governments need to be held responsible for their policies and actions. “People need to know how much is being borrowed, how much is being used properly and what is being paid back on time, because there are implications for our sustainable financing,” Chiang said.