Governor Newsom Sworn Into Office and Gets to Work
January 11, 2019
It was a busy week in Sacramento for Governor Gavin Newsom as he took the oath of office as California’s 40th Governor on Monday. With a robust budget reserve, democratic supermajority and an ambitious platform, Governor Newsom began his term by outlining a “bold” agenda during his inaugural address, while giving a nod to outgoing Governor Brown, citing the need to “be prudent stewards of taxpayer dollars, pay down debt, and meet our future obligations.”
Setting the tone for his agenda, Governor Newsom followed his inaugural address with an executive action calling for a Medi-Cal expansion that would cover young undocumented immigrants, require that all consumers in the state carry health insurance, increase subsidies for middle-class families and new state authority to negotiate drug prices. Additionally, the Governor outlined campaign priorities, such as early childhood education and a “Marshall plan” for affordable housing in California, details of which were included in his first budget release yesterday.
The Governor was quick to get to work and on his second day on the job, and began by responding to pressing needs of the state, focusing on emergency management and fire safety. At a press conference in Colfax, CA the day after being sworn into office, Governor Newsom stood with a number of top Emergency Management Officials and outlined a plan to increase funding for the state’s emergency alert systems and response capabilities. He outlined $105 million in new fire and emergency-related spending on top of the $200 million dedicated by the Legislature last year through SB 901, the comprehensive wildfire package. In addition, Governor Newsom committed to including three years -worth of property tax losses in his budget for Butte and Lake Counties, as they begin the rebuilding and recovery process.
These priorities are lock step with CSAC’s recent budget requests, and we believe these efforts will help to equip our communities with additional tools for response and resiliency to future events. In addition, the Governor introduced two Executive Orders to improve risk assessment and modernize state contracting for technology services.
The Governor followed these actions by the release of his first state budget. While he emphasized the prudent aspects of his proposal—like the historic contributions to the state’s various rainy day funds and pension systems and the large percent of one-time spending commitments—he also outlined in more detail several ambitious proposals that will affect not only the state budget, but also counties, county programs, and the daily lives of many Californians, including housing and homelessness programs, and the expansion of California’s paid leave program. See CSAC’s Budget Action Bulletin for a full rundown of the January budget.
Governor Newsom’s week was capped with the announcement of additional appointments to his cabinet and Administration. Joining Chief of Staff, Ann O’Leary and Cabinet Secretary Ana Matosantos in the Governor’s office are a number of deputy legislative secretaries focusing on the gamut of policy issues. Among his appointments are Rhys Williams, Senior Advisor on Emergency Preparedness and Management; Kate Gordon, Director of the Office of Planning and Research (OPR), Jared Blumenfeld, Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA); and the reappointment of Karen Ross as Secretary of California Department of Food & Agriculture.