Capitol Alert

Where California would head if Gavin Newsom is governor

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom's victory speech promised plenty as he moved into position Tuesday to become California's next Democratic governor.

As it became clear that he and Republican John Cox would face off in November, he called for a universal health care system.

In outlining a broad plan for helping Californians struggling with the high cost of housing, he evoked American efforts after World War II to stabilize Western Europe.

"Guaranteed health care for all. A 'Marshall Plan' for affordable housing," Newsom said. "A master plan for aging with dignity. A middle-class workforce strategy. A cradle-to-college promise for the next generation. An all-hands approach to ending child poverty."

Newsom launched his political career in San Francisco as a moderate, business-friendly Democrat, but during his campaign to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown, he has seized the left flank of the California Democratic Party.

He says he wants to take "audacious" and "bold" action on major issues affecting California, especially its housing affordability and homelessness crisis.

"No family should ever lack a roof over their heads," Newsom said. "No child should ever be raised below the poverty line. No patient should ever be denied access to basic health care. And no Californian should ever have to choose between the three."

Should the former San Francisco mayor fulfill expectations and become California’s next governor, he would bring with him a policy agenda more liberal than any other blue-state governor.

He wants health care for everyone, including immigrants in the country illegally. He supports universal preschool and at least two years of tuition-free community college. He wants to get rid of California's cash bail system. He would seek to run the state's energy grid solely on renewable energy.

Newsom's wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, also wants to take on major policy initiatives, including ending early childhood poverty, ensuring access to affordable child care and working to end the gender pay gap.

It would not be the frugal path pursued by Brown, who over his last two terms leading the nation's most populous state has brought California back from a recession, built a strong state budget with $9 billion in reserves and shepherded a booming economy that is now the fifth largest in the world.

Newsom's biggest goals, on homelessness, health care and education, would be expensive, and Brown has warned the state can expect an economic downturn. To pay for government-financed single-payer health care alone, for example, Californians would be on the hook for huge tax increases to cover the estimated $400 billion price tag.

Cox was unapologetic about running with President Donald Trump's endorsement in a heavily Democratic state.

"It wasn't Donald Trump who made California the highest-taxed nation in the country, it was Gavin Newsom and the Democrats," Cox told his supporters on Tuesday evening. "It wasn't Donald Trump who piled on the fees, taxes, the regulations, the delay that has made our housing the most expensive in the country ..."

Newsom acknowledged in an interview with reporters last week that tackling his full platform would be costly, saying about his health care goals that "you can't do that in your first legislative session." He said he'd first establish a blueprint outlining the direction he wants to take California on universal health care, early childhood education, homelessness and housing, and build a budget around those priorities over time.

On homelessness, he said he'd first start by appointing a secretary-level "homelessness czar" to coordinate the delivery of mental health, welfare and other services to the needy, fund jail programs to prevent inmates from becoming homeless upon release and support so-called homelessness "navigation centers" — centrally located hubs across the state where homeless people could access a broad spectrum of services.

Newsom also wants to establish a more business-friendly environment for homebuilders to help spearhead his goal of constructing 3.5 million new housing units by 2025. A core part of his goal is creating incentives for developers to put new projects near public transit, further transforming major metropolitan areas into job centers where people don't have to rely on car travel for work.

"I'm ready to hit the ground running," Newsom said last week. "I think demonstrably you'll see what those priorities are when that budget is submitted to the Legislature, and that process happens days after you get sworn in."

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