Betty Yee said she owes her job as California’s 32nd controller in part to public education — the San Francisco Unified School District and UC Berkeley. She offered a heartfelt thanks to the CFT for its work to get her elected in a tight race.

Calling herself a “numbers geek” and proud of it, Yee said numbers tell a story and being 46th in the nation in educational spending is unacceptable.  

“Education ought to be our number one priority,” she said. “Public education is the great equalizer, and I’m going to close every crack so kids can’t slip into poverty. We have to start investing in our human capital, and I’m going to be standing right with you supporting bigger investments in public education.”

California’s finances are fairly stable, in part, Yee said, because of a higher tax on the state’s wealthiest residents due to Proposition 30.

Yee, who serves on the boards of CalSTRS and CalPERS, also said she would fight for retirement security. “Economic opportunity for all means for all — it doesn’t stop at the end of your careers,” she said. “There’s no way in the world we’re going to come in and swoop up all your earnings you’ve worked hard for.”

Telling the 500-plus delegates they elected the right person for the job, Yee said she’s excited to show up to work every morning at 7 and put in long days. She told stories about growing up one of six children, working at her parents’ dry cleaning and laundry business and sharing a sofa bed with her sisters.

“I had tremendous opportunity growing up,” she said. “That’s a common immigrant experience, and you have to give voice to it because, by golly, those voices are not developed yet.”