Capitol Alert

‘It can’t be either/or:’ What Gavin Newsom said at his 2019 state of the state speech

Watch Newsom announce plan to pull California National Guard troops from border

Gavin Newsom is withdrawing California National Guard troops from the Mexico border in a rebuke to President Donald Trump. Former governor Jerry Brown deployed the troops in April to help border patrol agents.
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Gavin Newsom is withdrawing California National Guard troops from the Mexico border in a rebuke to President Donald Trump. Former governor Jerry Brown deployed the troops in April to help border patrol agents.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday delivered his first state of the state speech. Here are his prepared remarks as released by his office.

Mr. Speaker, thank you for being a champion for all Californians – and for welcoming Jen and me into your house today.

Madam Pro Tem – thank you for your commitment to collaboration, which has helped make our first month together so productive.

I also have the honor of saying for the first time ever in this chamber: thank you Madam Lieutenant Governor for that very kind and short introduction.

To all the constitutional officers and legislators assembled here today – thank you for your service to our state.

And let me reassure everyone: our son Dutch is not here. We learned our lesson at the inauguration.

It was just over four weeks ago that I stood in front of this Capitol and pledged to defend not just the California constitution but the California dream.

Today, I want to talk about how we can do that together.

By every traditional measure, the state of our state is strong.

We have a record-breaking surplus.

We’ve added 3 million jobs since the depths of the recession.

Wages are rising.

We have more scientists, researchers, and engineers, more Nobel laureates, and the finest system of higher education anywhere in the world.

But along with that prosperity and progress, there are problems that have been deferred for too long and that threaten to put the California dream out of reach for too many.

We face hard decisions that are coming due.

The choices we make will shape our future for decades.

This is what I want to talk about today, as frankly and directly as I can:

The tough calls we must make together on rail, water, and energy. How we protect migrants, care for seniors, and help the homeless, and how we will tackle the affordability crisis that is coming to define life in this state.

I won’t pretend to have all the answers. But the only way to find them is to face these issues honestly.

Let’s start with the fear mongering from the White House about the so-called “emergency” at our border.

For me, this is an echo from fifteen years ago.

I was a new mayor sitting in the gallery at the State of the Union when President Bush said LGBT Americans should not be able to get married.

It was an attack on our friends and neighbors, and on California’s values.

I was so proud to watch brave Californians answer those attacks with love and courage. Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin made history when they were married 15 years ago to this very day.

Now, just like back then, we must stand up for those maligned, marginalized, and scapegoated.

Because last week, we heard another president stand up at the State of the Union and offer a vision of an America fundamentally at odds with California values.

He described a country where inequality doesn’t seem to be a problem, where climate change doesn’t exist, and where the greatest threat we face comes from families seeking asylum.

Just last night, he went down to El Paso and said it again.

Immigration

Let us state the facts. We are currently experiencing the lowest number of border crossings since 1971.

In California, like our nation, our undocumented population is at its lowest level in more than a decade.

Some 550,000 fewer in our state alone.

Immigrants, both those here legally and those without documentation, commit crime at a lower rate than native-born citizens.

And those families, women and children, seeking asylum at our borders, are doing so lawfully.

Those are the facts. The border “emergency” is a manufactured crisis and California will not be part of this political theater.

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We’re not backing down. Just yesterday, I gave the National Guard a new mission – one that will refocus on the real threats facing our state.

A third of our forces currently on the border will be redeployed to help prepare for the upcoming fire season by joining Cal Fire in prevention and suppression. Work, ironically, the Federal government curtailed during the recent shutdown.

Another third will boost the National Guard’s statewide counter-drug task force by redeploying up north to go after illegal cannabis farms, many of which are run by cartels, are devastating our pristine forests, and are increasingly becoming fire hazards themselves.

The remaining third of our Guard will focus on stopping criminals smuggling drugs and guns through existing border checkpoints.

A wall that stretches thousands of miles through the wilderness will do nothing to stop this threat.

This is our answer to the White House: No more division, no more xenophobia and no more nativism. We suffered enough from that in the nineties with Props 187 and 227.

High speed rail

Next, let’s level about high speed rail. I have nothing but respect for Governor Brown’s and Governor Schwarzenegger’s ambitious vision. I share it. And there’s no doubt that our state’s economy and quality of life depend on improving transportation.

But let’s be real. The project, as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency.

Right now, there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A. I wish there were.

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However, we do have the capacity to complete a high-speed rail link between Merced and Bakersfield.

I know that some critics will say this is a “train to nowhere.” But that’s wrong and offensive. The people of the Central Valley endure the worst air pollution in America as well as some of the longest commutes. And they have suffered too many years of neglect from policymakers here in Sacramento. They deserve better.

High Speed Rail is much more than a train project. It’s about economic transformation and unlocking the enormous potential of the Valley.

We can align our economic and workforce development strategies, anchored by High Speed Rail, and pair them with tools like opportunity zones, to form the backbone of a reinvigorated Central Valley economy.

Merced, Fresno, Bakersfield, and communities in between are more dynamic than many realize.

The Valley may be known around the world for agriculture, but there is another story ready to be told. A story of a region hungry for investment, a workforce eager for more training and good jobs, Californians who deserve a fair share of our state’s prosperity.

Look, we will continue our regional projects north and south. We’ll finish Phase 1 environmental work. We’ll connect the revitalized Central Valley to other parts of the state, and continue to push for more federal funding and private dollars. But let’s just get something done.

For those who want to walk away from this whole endeavor, I offer you this:

Abandoning high speed rail entirely means we will have wasted billions of dollars with nothing but broken promises and lawsuits to show for it.

And by the way, I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump.

Nor am I interested in repeating the same old mistakes.

Today I am ordering new transparency measures.

We’re going to hold contractors and consultants accountable to explain how taxpayer dollars are spent – including change orders, cost overruns, even travel expenses. It’s going online, for everybody to see.

You’re also going to see some governance changes, starting with my pick for the next chair of the High Speed Rail Authority, Lenny Mendonca, my Economic Development Director. Because, at the end of the day, transportation and economic development must go hand in hand.

Delta tunnels

We also need a fresh approach when it comes to meeting California’s massive water challenges.

We have a big state with diverse water needs. Cities that need clean water to drink, farms that need irrigation to keep feeding the world, fragile ecosystems that must be protected.

Our water supply is becoming less reliable because of climate change. And our population is growing because of a strong economy. That means a lot of demand on an unpredictable supply. There are no easy answers. But let me be direct about where I stand:

I do not support the Water Fix as currently configured. Meaning, I do not support the twin tunnels. But we can build on the important work that’s already been done. That’s why I do support a single tunnel.

The status quo is not an option.

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We need to protect our water supply from earthquakes and rising sea levels, preserve delta fisheries, and meet the needs of cities and farms.

We have to get past the old binaries, like farmers versus environmentalists, or North versus South. Our approach can’t be “either/or.” It must be “yes/and.”

Conveyance and efficiency. And recycling projects like we’re seeing in Southern California’s Met Water District, expanding floodplains in the Central Valley, groundwater recharge, like farmers are doing in Fresno County. We need a portfolio approach to building water infrastructure and meeting long-term demand.

To help bring this balance, I’m appointing a new chair of the California water board, Joaquin Esquivel.

Our first task is to cross the finish line on real agreements to save the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta.

AA Newsom Water1.jpg
California Governor Gavin Newsom visited Monterey Tract in Ceres, Calif., to talk with residents about getting safe and affordable drinking water Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. Andy Alfaro aalfaro@modbee.com

We must get this done – for the resilience of our mighty rivers, the stability of our agriculture sector, and the millions who depend on this water every day.

Now, let’s talk honestly about clean drinking water.

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Just this morning, more than a million Californians woke up without clean water to bathe in or drink. Some schools have shut down drinking fountains due to contamination. Some poorer communities, like those I visited recently in Stanislaus County, are paying more for undrinkable water than Beverly Hills pays for its pristine water.

This is a moral disgrace and a medical emergency. There are literally hundreds of water systems across the state contaminated by lead, arsenic, or uranium.

Solving this crisis demands sustained funding. It demands political will.

PG&E’s bankruptcy

Next, let’s talk about our energy future – and PG&E’s bankruptcy.

We are all frustrated and angry that it’s come to this. PG&E didn’t do enough to secure dangerous equipment or plan for the future. My administration will work to make sure PG&E upholds its obligations. I have convened a team of the nation’s best bankruptcy lawyers and financial experts from the energy sector.

They will work with my strike team to develop a comprehensive strategy that we will present within 60 days. We will ensure continued access to safe affordable power. We will seek justice for fire victims, fairness for employees, and protection for ratepayers. We will continue to invest in safety, and we will never waver on achieving the nation’s most ambitious clean energy goals.

The problems we face are far greater than PG&E. Climate change is putting pressure on all of our utilities — public and private, north and south. Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric both recently had their credit ratings downgraded.

This pressure comes at a time when the entire energy market is evolving. From roof-top solar and wind generation to smart grid technologies. From Community Choice Aggregators to direct access service. More and more of our electricity now is procured outside of investor-owned utilities.

Regulations and insurance practices created decades ago didn’t anticipate these changes. We must map out longer-term strategies, not just for the utilities’ future, but for California’s energy future, to ensure that the cost of climate change doesn’t fall on those least able to afford it.

Schools

Now let me turn to education.

The teachers’ strike in LA is over – but the need to confront its underlying causes has only just begun. Understaffed schools, overcrowded classrooms, pension pressures, the achievement gap, and charter school growth — these stressors are showing up all over the state, right here in Sacramento, in Fresno, and Oakland.

Districts across the state are challenged to balance budgets even in this strong economy, and at a time when we’re spending more on schools than ever before.

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Seven years ago, we invested $47.3 billion in our schools. Next year, with your support, we’ll invest more than $80 billion -- that includes $576 million for special education.

But it’s not enough. We’re still 41st in the nation in per pupil funding. Something needs to change. We need to have an honest conversation about how we fund our schools at a state and local level.

But at the same time, let’s remember that the measure of a school system’s excellence is more than the sum of its budgets.

We need clear and achievable standards of transparency, more information sharing, and accountability for all public schools … traditional and charter.

We need a new president for the State Board of Education, to lead the way and work alongside State Superintendent Tony Thurmond, and to lift up all of our students. And my pick for that position is nationally recognized education expert Linda Darling Hammond.

Homelessness

There’s another urgent moral issue we must confront: the homelessness epidemic.

So many of California’s homeless – whether they’re families, veterans, victims of rent spikes, or survivors fleeing domestic violence – are invisible and left behind by our society. Too many on the streets are suffering from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or paranoia. Many are self-medicating with drug or alcohol as a consequence. Our homelessness crisis has increasingly become a public health crisis.

Last year, there was a Hepatitis-A outbreak in San Diego. Recently, there was an outbreak of Syphilis in Sonoma. And now, typhus in Los Angeles. Typhus. That’s a Medieval disease. In California. In 2019.

Mayors, county supervisors, and city councils around the state are working hard to reduce homelessness and its underlying causes. We’ve got to have their backs.

But they can’t do it alone. To help lead this discussion, I’m appointing a new Commission on Homelessness and Supportive Housing, led by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.

With your support, let’s put half a billion dollars into immediate funding for navigation centers – emergency shelters with services on site, and another hundred million for Whole Person Care to replace a fragmented approach to services with one that’s more integrated and comprehensive.

And while cities and counties are on the front lines, this challenge will only be solved regionally. We need to work together as a state to focus on prevention, rapid rehousing, mental health, and more permanent supportive housing – because while shelter solves sleep, only permanent supportive housing solves homelessness.

‘The Golden State is getting grayer’

Now, let’s talk about something too often overlooked:

The Golden State is getting grayer. We need to get ready for the major demographic challenge headed our way.

For the first time in our history, older Californians will outnumber young children. Over the next decade, our statewide senior population will increase by 4 million. In 25 years, it will double. And more than half will require some form of long-term care.

Growing old knows no boundaries – aging doesn’t care what race you are, your economic status, or if you’re single with no other family support.

I’ve had some personal – and painful – experience with this recently. I lost my father over the holidays, after years of declining physical health and dementia. He was determined to live out his days with dignity. He also happened to be a retired public official with a pension and a support circle of family and friends.

Even with all those advantages, it was a daily challenge to meet his needs so he could live in place and maintain a good quality of life. Millions of Californians share a similar story, and the numbers will only grow.

It’s time for a new master plan on aging. It must address: person-centered care, the patchwork of public services, social isolation, bed-locked seniors in need of transportation, the nursing shortage, and demand for In-Home Supportive Services that far outpaces its capacity.

And we can’t talk about aging without focusing on Alzheimer’s.

Too many of us have seen the crushing grip this disease has on our loved ones – and especially on our wives and mothers – two-thirds of new Alzheimer’s cases are women.

Today, I am launching the Alzheimer’s Prevention and Preparedness Task Force, bringing the most renowned scientists and thinkers together to develop first-of-its-kind research in this area. It will be headed by a leading advocate for families dealing with Alzheimer’s, our former first lady, Maria Shriver. She is here today and we are grateful for her continued service.

Housing affordability

Tying together many of the hard challenges we face is the broader cost crisis. In a recent survey, 61% of young adults in California said they can’t afford to live here. California should never be a place where only the well-off can lead a good life.

It starts with housing, perhaps our most overwhelming challenge right now. We all know the problem. There’s too much demand and too little supply. And that is happening in large part because too many cities and counties aren’t even planning for how to build. Some are flat out refusing to do anything at all.

That’s why I have committed $750 million for a major new incentive package for communities to do the right thing. $250 million in support to cities and counties to update their housing plans, revamp their zoning process, and get more housing entitled. $500 million more in grants when they achieve these milestones.

If we want a California for All, we have to build housing for all.

I want to support local governments that do what’s right, like Anaheim and Santa Rosa. But there must be accountability for those that don’t.

Two weeks ago, the state of California sued the city of Huntington Beach for failing to meet its obligations on affordable housing. Let me tell you, as a former mayor, the last thing I wanted to do was start my term by suing a city. But they left us no choice.

This isn’t about picking on Huntington Beach, they happened to be first because of a statute of limitations. There are 47 other cities across California that are not complying with their planning requirements in one way or another.

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Some cities are trying, like Clovis. But others are not, like Wheatland, Huntington Park, and Montebello. I am inviting these cities’ leaders to sit down next week for a candid conversation. I don’t intend to file suit against all 47, but I’m not going to preside over neglect and denial. These cities need to summon the political courage to build their fair share of housing.

I also want to acknowledge other factors beyond city planning that have limited our ability to provide housing.

In recent years, we’ve expedited judicial review on CEQA for professional sports. It’s time we do the same thing for housing.

I want to applaud the efforts by home builders and labor leaders, who together are working to forge a compromise to accelerate production.

But there is no way we can achieve our ambitious targets unless we train a skilled workforce big enough to meet this challenge … and those workers deserve wages high enough to support their families.

Let’s encourage this progress, bring more people to the table, and get something big done. And while we’re at it, let’s not forget the commitments many of us made after Prop 10 failed last year.

The pressures on vulnerable renters didn’t go away after the election. We need new rules to stabilize neighborhoods and prevent evictions, without putting small landlords out of business. I want the best ideas from everyone in this chamber. Here is my promise to you, get me a good package on rent stability this year and I will sign it.

Health care

Next, if we’re serious about taming the cost crisis we need affordable health care for all Californians.

Our ability to invest in everything we care about is constrained by the pressure of rising health care costs. It impacts everything else we want to do.

The White House is laser-focused on destroying the Affordable Care Act. The vandalism they’ve already done to the individual mandate has had consequences. This year’s Covered California premiums increased almost twice as much as we expected. This is just what we feared, and it’s just what they wanted.

That’s why, when it comes to the individual mandate, California must act where Washington failed.

If we do, we will be able to deepen subsidies for those earning up to $48,000 and extend subsidies to families earning up to $150,000, something no other state in America has done. We all know California has among the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rates in America.

That’s why our budget devotes more than $1 billion to increase rates and address the provider shortage.

This investment will also allow us to increase access to preventative health measures like -immunizations, trauma screenings, and mental health services. And it provides $100 million for reproductive health and family planning.

As we pursue the long-term goal of single payer financing, let us make a down-payment now by expanding Medi-Cal coverage to all Californians up to age 26, regardless of their immigration status.

But access is only part of the solution. Cost is another.

We must address rising costs throughout the system, like the consolidation of hospitals and other health providers, which limits patient choice and makes care more expensive. And we must continue to bring down the cost of prescription drugs.

My first act as governor was to lay the foundation for a single-purchasing system – the largest such system in the nation, which will save hundreds of millions of dollars a year for the people of California.

I want to thank President Trump for calling attention to prescription drug prices in his State of the Union. Yes, you heard that right. I hope he follows through. After all, this should be a bipartisan issue. But with or without the Federal government, California will lead.

Jobs and wages

Finally, we must ask ourselves, how do we create a future with more good jobs and higher wages.

Because when it comes to making life in California more affordable, cost is only one side of the equation, the other is income.

Despite our rising wages, working families in California today barely earn more than they did a decade ago. Many working parents are making less than their parents did at the same age.

That’s why, with your support, we will provide a cost of living refund by expanding the earned income tax credit to a million more Californians who need it the most. For families with kids under the age of six, they’ll see their benefit go up by as much as three times.

But, in an economy where the world of work is in a perpetual state of flu, where workers are too often displaced, devalued and disconnected from the social safety net, we must also think bigger.

It’s time to develop a new modern compact for California’s changing workforce. This is much bigger than Dynamex.

California needs a comprehensive statewide strategy to uplift and upskill our workers, to ensure technological advancements in AI, blockchain, big data, are creating jobs, not destroying them, and to reform our institutions so that more workers have an ownership stake in their sweat equity.

We will appoint a new Commission on California’s Workforce & Future of Work. We will bring together leaders from labor and business – both the public and private sectors. Their assignment is to come up with new ideas to expand worker opportunity without extinguishing innovation or flexibility.

California is proud to be home to technology companies determined to change the world. But companies that make billions of dollars collecting, curating and monetizing our personal data have a duty to protect it. Consumers have a right to know and control how their data is being used.

I applaud this legislature for passing the first-in-the-nation digital privacy law last year. But California’s consumers should also be able to share in the wealth that is created from their data. And so I’ve asked my team to develop a proposal for a new Data Dividend for Californians, because we recognize that your data has value and it belongs to you.

‘So much left to do’

Now, we’ve covered a lot of ground today, but there is so much more that deserves our focus. Climate change. Reforming our tax code and our criminal justice system. Major initiatives like paid family leave, universal pre-school, free community college, re-imagining the DMV…there’s so much more. And I’ll be talking a lot about those issues in the coming months.

At my inauguration, I quoted the Sermon on the Mount about a house that did not fall in the face of floods and storms, because it was founded upon a rock.

I promised that, together, “We will build one house for one California.”

We’ve started drawing the blueprint for that house, and together we will finish it.

camp fire
President Donald Trump, FEMA Director Brock Long, Gov. Jerry Brown, Gov.-elect Gavin Newson and Paradise mayor Jody Jones tour the Skyway Villa Mobile Home and RV Park during Trump’s visit of the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif. on Saturday, November 17, 2018. Paul Kitagaki Jr. Sacramento Bee file

This goes deeper than budget numbers or program details. This is about the bonds between us as human beings.

As St. Paul said, “we are many parts but one body.” We are all diminished when one of us struggles to lead a good life.

The problems we face are as hard as they come, and decades in the making. But I truly believe we have the tools to solve them. We have the technology and the know-how.

Most importantly, we have the generosity of our people.

Remember the story of the registered nurse in Paradise who was sitting in traffic, trying to escape the fire, as flames started to engulf his car. He thought, “this is it.” He recorded a goodbye video for his family. Then a miracle occurred: a bulldozer cleared burning cars out of his path. At that point, he could have driven away as fast as possible. That’s what a lot of people would have done.

Instead, he turned his car around and drove straight to the hospital in the middle of town, where he worked in the ICU. He and his colleagues started treating injured people. Then the hospital caught fire. They moved patients to a helipad 100 yards away as fast as they could.

Every single one of them was safely evacuated.

When he was asked why he did this – why he drove back through the fire when he could have saved himself – he shrugged and said, “This is what we do.”

His name is Allyn Pierce and he’s here with us today.

Allyn is right. Taking care of each other, showing courage when it matters most – this is what we do in California.

Yes, we have so much left to do.

But I believe in the remarkable talent assembled here.

I believe in our state. And I know that the best is yet to come.

Thank you.

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Adam Ashton is The Bee’s Capitol Bureau Chief. He leads a team of reporters covering California politics and government. His assignments for The Bee and its sister papers have taken him from Merced to Baghdad since joining McClatchy in 2004.


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