Gov. Gavin Newsom propped up California as an inspiration for the rest of the country during his State of the State address Tuesday, vowing to tackle skyrocketing gas prices, alleviate the homeless crisis and foster transformative education.
Gov. Newsom exuded confidence and optimism in the “California way,” his theme of the evening. He boasted California successfully mitigated COVID-19 fatalities with shutdowns and mask mandates and welcomed new businesses even during the worst of the pandemic.
He took dire situations — such as rising gas prices, the homeless crisis and increasing crime — and highlighted successful efforts while ensuring his administration will do more.
“In the midst of so much turmoil, with stacking stresses and dramatic social and economic change, California is doing what we have done for generations, lighting out the territory ahead of the rest, expanding the horizon of what’s possible,” the governor said.
Gov. Newsom promised he would submit a proposal to address the gas prices and “put money back in the pockets of Californians.”
On the day of Mr. Newsom’s address, U.S. gas prices reached a record high with a national average of $4.17. In California, the average price climbed to $5.44.
Republicans in the legislature have proposed placing a moratorium on the gas tax to offset the rising costs. Gov. Newsom didn’t unveil details of his plan to address fuel costs Tuesday, but Democrats have largely brushed off a gas tax pause, arguing it would be too detrimental to infrastructure projects.
“At a time when we’ve been heating and burning up, one thing we cannot do is repeat the mistakes of the past by embracing polluters, drilling even more oil which only leads to more extreme weather, more extreme drought and more wildfire. What more evidence do you need than our own state,” Gov. Newsom said.
Gov. Newsom said 58,000 unhoused people have been taken “off the streets” since the start of COVID. He said his administration is providing “unprecedented investments for cities and counties on the frontlines” when “just a few years ago, California lacked any comprehensive strategy.”
“Our approach is to be neither indifferent to the realities of the present-day nor revert to the heavy-handed policies that have marked the failures of the past,” California’s chief executive said. “We’re funding local law enforcement and prosecutors to investigate and solve more crimes. We’re bolstering the Attorney General’s Office, prosecuting organized theft rings and getting illegal guns off our streets.”
But in cheerleading for California, Gov. Newsom, who is up for re-election this year after surviving a recall effort, also took shots at Texas and Florida, Republican-led states, over COVID-related deaths and business growth.
He alluded to recently-passed controversial legislation in Florida that would limit what teachers could discuss in the classroom related to sexual orientation. It’s been dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Gov. Newsom said California, in comparison, was focused on “real transformation of our public education system” through transitional kindergarten, universal after-school programs, expanded summer school and free community college.
Following the speech, Senate GOP Leader Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, quipped that Gov. Newsom should have given his speech in Orange County “because the picture that he laid out in terms of California was really fantasyland.”
“People are really struggling right now across California,” added Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, during a joint press conference. “It’s harder and harder to make ends meet with the high cost of gas, high cost of rent and housing, utility bills. I didn’t really hear much from the governor on any of those things — how he’s going to alleviate the real problems and struggles that everyday Californians are facing now.”
In an interview with the News-Press Tuesday, Congressman Salud Carbajal, who sits on the House Committee on Armed Services, blamed the rising gas prices on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “aggression and chaos” amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
President Joe Biden earlier Tuesday said the U.S. would impose a ban on U.S. imports of Russian oil in retaliation for Russia’s war.
Gov. Newsom also drew on the crisis in Ukraine during his speech.
“Tonight is a moment for us to reflect on what it means to live in a society where elected leaders still settle our disagreement — by and large — with civility and compromise and how we derive strength from a government that reflects the people we represent,” Gov. Newsom said. email: email@example.com