Fol­low­ing elec­tion win, Gov. New­som has 10 prom­ises to ful­fill for Cal­i­for­nia

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY ALEXEI KOSEFF akos­[email protected]

Run­ning for gov­er­nor, Demo­crat Gavin New­som vowed to tackle many of Cal­i­for­nia’s big­gest prob­lems, of­fer­ing an ex­pan­sive vi­sion of gov­ern­ment as the so­lu­tion. We’re watch­ing his ef­forts to keep his cam­paign prom­ises. Here is what he pledged to do on 10 is­sues while cam­paign­ing for Cal­i­for­nia’s high­est of­fice.


As San Fran­cisco mayor, New­som put tremen­dous ef­fort into com­bat­ing chronic home­less­ness, and he leaned on that ex­pe­ri­ence in his gu­ber­na­to­rial cam­paign to high­light a statewide cri­sis: about 135,000 home­less peo­ple, a quar­ter of the na­tion’s to­tal. He pro­posed cre­at­ing a cab­i­net-level po­si­tion to lead a “re­gional ap­proach” for ad­dress­ing home­less­ness. Many cities and coun­ties have ab­di­cated their re­spon­si­bil­ity to help those in need, he said, shifting the bur­den onto com­mu­ni­ties like San Fran­cisco that pro­vide ro­bust ser­vices. New­som told The Bee in July that he wants to tie state fund­ing to in­creased de­vel­op­ment of sup­port­ive hous­ing, as an in­cen­tive for lo­cal gov­ern­ments. He also wants to help them en­roll more home­less peo­ple in the fed­eral dis­abil­ity pro­gram that pro­vides a monthly stipend.


Cal­i­for­nia’s hous­ing af­ford­abil­ity cri­sis was cen­tral to the gu­ber­na­to­rial cam­paign. New­som pledged to con­front the prob­lem with an am­bi­tious goal: 3.5 mil­lion new hous­ing units by 2025. Reach­ing that fig­ure, which the build­ing in­dus­try says is nec­es­sary to meet pro­jected pop­u­la­tion growth, would re­quire the state to quin­tu­ple its cur­rent rate of pro­duc­tion. To boost con­struc­tion, New­som has pro­posed in­creas­ing tax cred­its for af­ford­able hous­ing de­vel­op­ment, bring­ing back the anti-blight lo­cal re­de­vel­op­ment agen­cies and stream­lin­ing the process for ap­prov­ing land use. He also said he would hold cities ac­count­able for fail­ing to meet their hous­ing quo­tas set by the state and re­vamp the tax code, which he be­lieves en­cour­ages com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment over build­ing new homes.


New­som op­posed a Novem­ber bal­lot ini­tia­tive to re­peal a state law that se­verely lim­its rent con­trol in cities across Cal­i­for­nia. He said the mea­sure, which would have given lo­cal gov­ern­ments broad author­ity to craft new rent re­stric­tions, could dis­cour­age hous­ing de­vel­op­ment. It ul­ti­mately failed, but New­som pledged to im­me­di­ately be­gin work­ing on a deal that would nev­er­the­less ex­pand rent con­trol.


New­som has pub­licly en­dorsed a sin­gle-payer health care sys­tem. “It’s about ac­cess. It’s about af­ford­abil­ity. It’s about time, Democrats,” he told the Cal­i­for­nia Demo­cratic Party con­ven­tion in Fe­bru­ary. But through­out the cam­paign, New­som also ex­pressed skep­ti­cism about the ob­sta­cles to de­vel­op­ing gov­ern­men­trun, uni­ver­sal health cov­er­age at the state level, such as the high price tag and the need for a fed­eral waiver. He has sug­gested lay­ing the ground­work with poli­cies that rein in health care costs and guar­an­tee ac­cess to in­sur­ance for all Cal­i­for­ni­ans. Ideas that have been floated in­clude al­low­ing un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants to par­tic­i­pate in the state’s health care pro­gram for the poor and in­creas­ing sub­si­dies for those who can­not af­ford to buy their own in­sur­ance.


New­som closed his cam­paign em­pha­siz­ing the need to ex­pand early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams. As part of a broader fo­cus on im­prov­ing prepa­ra­tion and health out­comes dur­ing the first three years of a child’s life, he pri­or­i­tized mak­ing preschool avail­able to all kids. About half of Cal­i­for­nia chil­dren el­i­gi­ble for the state’s pub­lic preschool pro­grams are not en­rolled due to a lack of space. Dur­ing a cam­paign stop at a Sacra­mento preschool the week be­fore the elec­tion, where he dressed as Bat­man and trick-or-treated with tod­dlers, New­som told re­porters, “We don’t have an achieve­ment gap as it re­lates to ed­u­ca­tion in this state, we have a readi­ness gap. Peo­ple aren’t left be­hind, they start be­hind.”


Just days af­ter his elec­tion, New­som was thrown into deal­ing with sev­eral crises in Cal­i­for­nia, in­clud­ing a mass shoot­ing at a coun­try bar in Thou­sand Oaks. Dur­ing his first press con­fer­ence as gov­er­nor-elect, New­som called for “rais­ing the bar” on gun con­trol in the state. A staunch ad­vo­cate of gun safety mea­sures, such as ban­ning high-ca­pac­ity mag­a­zines and in­sti­tut­ing back­ground checks for am­mu­ni­tion, New­som said he would re­visit some of the bills that Gov. Jerry Brown pre­vi­ously re­jected. That may in­clude a mea­sure broad­en­ing who can seek a gun vi­o­lence re­strain­ing or­der. “There are a num­ber of things he ve­toed that I would not have ve­toed, and there are a num­ber of things that I want that haven’t been done,” New­som told The Bee.


Cam­paign­ing in the Cen­tral Val­ley, where fewer res­i­dents have a col­lege de­gree than other re­gions in the state, New­som em­pha­sized ap­pren­tice­ships as a way to con­nect work­ers to good jobs in an econ­omy rapidly adapt­ing to tech­no­log­i­cal changes. He pro­posed part­ner­ing with com­mu­nity col­lege and busi­nesses to cre­ate half a mil­lion ap­pren­tice­ships over the next decade in grow­ing fields like ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing, health ser­vices and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy. “The vast ma­jor­ity of us will not get a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in a fancy in­sti­tu­tion of higher learn­ing, and we need an agenda to sup­port those folks,” New­som said in Fresno. He sees it as a pos­si­ble area of col­lab­o­ra­tion with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.


One out of ev­ery five Cal­i­for­ni­ans lives in poverty – and by some mea­sures it’s even more. Aim­ing to lift up some of those fam­i­lies, New­som pro­posed ex­pand­ing the state’s earned in­come tax credit, a re­cently-cre­ated re­fund for the work­ing poor. About 1.3 mil­lion house­holds re­ceived nearly $300 mil­lion in cred­its on their 2017 earn­ings, ac­cord­ing to the Fran­chise Tax Board. New­som could bol­ster the pro­gram by in­creas­ing the value of the credit, which maxes out at about $2,500 for a fam­ily of four, or by mak­ing more Cal­i­for­ni­ans el­i­gi­ble, in­clud­ing those who are out of work or are not liv­ing the coun­try legally.


The dead­li­est and most destruc­tive wild­fire in Cal­i­for­nia his­tory ig­nited shortly af­ter New­som’s elec­tion, in­ten­si­fy­ing pres­sure for his ad­min­is­tra­tion and other state of­fi­cials to deal with a prob­lem that has grown worse with cli­mate change and rapid de­vel­op­ment in ru­ral ar­eas. As other deadly blazes burned this sum­mer, New­som told The Bee that Cal­i­for­nia must re­think its land man­age­ment strate­gies, re­move dead trees, in­crease fund­ing for fire de­part­ments, in­vest in a statewide weather mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem, in­stall a net­work of early warn­ing cam­eras and more ag­gres­sively re­duce its green­house gas emis­sions.


New­som vowed to re­move the profit mo­tive from Cal­i­for­nia’s crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem by elim­i­nat­ing two el­e­ments that he ar­gues con­trib­ute to over­in­car­cer­a­tion: pri­vate pris­ons and money bail. Cal­i­for­nia still con­tracts with pri­vate fa­cil­i­ties both in­side and out­side of the state to hold about 6,600 inmates, ac­cord­ing to state corrections of­fi­cials, as it works to keep its over­crowded pris­ons be­low a court-man­dated pop­u­la­tion cap. This sum­mer, Brown signed a bill to re­place cash bail, which crit­ics con­tend is un­fair to the poor, with a risk-based sys­tem of re­lease. But the bail in­dus­try is chal­leng­ing that law through a ref­er­en­dum that is ex­pected to go be­fore vot­ers in 2020.

Gavin New­som

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