It is my pleasure to welcome all of you to San Diego, California for the 2016 NAIC Summer National Meeting.
As a proud Californian, I am honored that the NAIC has chosen California for this meeting. Although I was born in Pennsylvania, raised in Minnesota and Illinois, and attended college in Indiana, I have called California home since the late '80s.
While I was in law school in Massachusetts, I met my wife Kim, a native Californian, who introduced me to California, and since then, I have made it my home, raised my family here,and plan never to leave - be careful, after three days in San Diego, you may never want to leave either.
California, the sixth largest economy in the world, which more than 38 million people call home, is rich in culture, diversity and history. We have a gross domestic product of more than $2.2 trillion and are leaders in agriculture, education, technology and manufacturing. California is home to more companies on the Standard and Poor's 500 than any other state. Recently, California's job growth outpaced the nation's, and California's non-farm employment of 15.7 million people is at an all-time high.
California's state government has a $171 billion annual budget with exciting and innovative programs including: addressing climate change, investing in education and beginning to implement the state's new minimum wage of $15 an hour.
California has the largest insurance market in the United States, where insurance companies write more than $259 billion in annual premiums. In California, we offer more than 24 classes of insurance, sold by more than 1,300 companies with approximately 360,000 agents and brokers licensed to sell insurance. Whether it is health, auto, home, business interruption or workers' compensation, Californians rely heavily on insurance to protect our families, our assets and our businesses.
California is also a state that inspires innovation and creativity. It is home to the Silicon Valley, the epicenter of the tech industry, which Google, Apple and many other significant companies call home. We are also proud to house the arts and entertainment industry with many of the finest film and television productions in the world, and countless songs and artwork. The NAIC's newest spokesperson - Rita Moreno - resides here in California, she even has a school named after her.
We are among the nation's leaders in agriculture, in fact, over a third of the country's vegetables are grown in California and we are also the nation's leader in dairy production. Our world-class beer and wine are part of California's calling card.
Additionally, depending upon the results of this year's election, California's agricultural yield may increase dramatically because of the legalization of a certain new crop - and if other states move in the same direction, the NAIC may need to contact Cheech & Chong when Rita's contract expires.
We are also home to some of the top colleges and universities in the nation, and the world. According to recent rankings, two of the nation's top 10, and four of the world's top 20 universities are located here.
From its 840 miles of coastline, to its mountains and deserts, California's geography is something to behold. We have dozens of national parks and monuments, including Joshua Tree, Death Valley and of course Yosemite.
People come from all around the world to see these places, and other California gems such as Lake Tahoe, Napa Valley and Disneyland.
While you are here in San Diego, I hope that you have an opportunity to appreciate what it has to offer. San Diego is California's second largest city, after Los Angeles, and is the 8th largest city in the U.S. It is home to several major universities, a robust bio-tech and IT industry, some of the nation's leading medical research and healthcare institutions, and provides critically important bases for our Armed Services.
Whether you enjoy San Diego's weather, miles of sandy beaches, premier restaurants and craft breweries, the world-famous San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, Balboa Park and its museums, the USS Midway, Coronado Island, the historic Old Town and the Mission, or a Gaslamp District, any of these are probably a close second to the meetings on PBR, risk-based capital, and credit for reinsurance, but I trust nonetheless that you will still not be disappointed.
It is a privilege to serve as California's Insurance Commissioner and to work with insurance regulators, industry and consumer organizations. Our regulatory work, and the work of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners is so critically important.
Finally, if you do decide to leave California and go back home, and you reminisce about your time here in California, you might think that "It Never Rains in Southern California," that you "Left Your Heart in San Francisco" or that you "Love LA," but no matter what, I do expect you will find yourself "California Dreamin'," and I hope, very soon, you will find yourself "Going Back to Cali."