This week, prior to announcing his $268B California budget proposal, Governor Gavin Newsom made stops across the Golden state, touting various aspects of his spending plan, from expanding access to education and health care, to combating homelessness and issuing tax rebates to some 78% of the Californians.
On Tuesday, while promoting a $1.5B proposal aimed at clean-up and beautification, Newsom spoke with FOX 11’s Elex Michaelson for The Issue Is, the two talking budget surpluses, recall politics, and the state’s planned economic reopening on June 15, among many other subjects.
Following Newsom, Michaelson is also joined this week by John Myers, the Sacramento Bureau Chief of the Los Angeles Times, and Laurel Rosenhall of CalMatters, to break down the Governor’s proposed budget and his chances of defeating a recall later this year.
THE ISSUE IS: REOPENING CALIFORNIA ON JUNE 15
BACKGROUND: In early April, Governor Newsom announced that, come June 15, the state would drop its tiered reopening system, and instead, fully reopen the economy. As that date approaches, and as California’s COVID positivity rate continues to fall, Michaelson asked the Governor to preview what the Golden State will look like in a matter of weeks, the Governor revealing that as the state loses the tiered system, so too may it loose the long-standing mask mandate.
NEWSOM’S CENTRAL TAKE: "We're right now at one percent positivity. It's among the lowest in the nation. It's been that way for almost two and a half, three weeks. We're seeing this blueprint where the vast majority of counties are in orange and yellow, and we're going to move beyond the blue print on the 15th of June, so just in a number of weeks and that world looks a lot like the world we entered into before the pandemic… we’re not wearing face coverings, we’re not we're not, you know, restricted in any way, shape or form of doing the old things that we used to do, save, huge large scale indoor convention events like that where will we use our common sense…. only in those massively large settings where people from around the world, not just around the country, are convening and when people are mixing in real dense spaces, otherwise we'll make guidance recommendations, but no mandates, and no mandates, and no restrictions on businesses large and small…"
THE ISSUE IS: COMBATING HOMELESSNESS
BACKGROUND: At last count, before the pandemic, the state of California recorded some 160,000 homeless residents. This week, Governor Newsom proposed some $12B in spending over the next two years to begin the work of getting those Californians off the street. Of that $12B, the bulk would go to the state’s "Project Roomkey" program, which rents hotel rooms as temporary housing, another $1.75 would be spent on the construction of affordable homes. But what if members of the homeless community refuse the provided services?
NEWSOM’S CENTRAL TAKE: "We can always find those folks that are service resistant. But I've been a practitioner of this for years and years and years. I've met people that were service resistant the first 20 times, we found out, you know, what the reason their service is we find out the last place they were at didn't take their dog, or didn’t take a partner, or because they're not completely clean and sober, it required them to go to a 12 step program before they got into that. You’ve got to meet people where they are, and that’s what this portfolio offers us, the opportunity to meet people across the spectrum where they are, mental health, behavioral health, substance abuse programs, housing of all types, not just for single adults that are out there in encampments, but also families, children and the like, and so that's the approach we're taking…."
THE ISSUE IS: THE RECALL REBATE?
BACKGROUND: Monday, as Newsom began the rollout of his $100B "California Comeback Plan," he announced that nearly $12B would be used for a direct payment to some 78% of qualifying Californians. His office called move the "biggest state tax rebate in American history." However, as a recall election nears, Michaelson asked the Governor to respond to critics who have criticized the move as political ploy used to appease voters and win their votes come the fall, a so-called "recall rebate."
NEWSOM’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I mean, we did this in January, we announced this in January before the recall was even on the radar, and people weren't even talking about it, so the fact is, it's just political theater and nonsense. What I also find interesting about the observation is no one's criticizing an historic statewide rebate to, quite literally, two thirds of Californians, 78% of taxpayers. If they’ve got a better idea on a rebate that, you know, if they have it, then I’m looking forward to being all ears in the legislative process…"
THE ISSUE IS: NEWSOM’S REPUBLICAN CHALLENGERS
BACKGROUND: Over the past two weeks, as businessman John Cox looks to unseat Newsom via this fall’s recall election, the GOP hopeful has campaigned alongside a headline-grabbing, 1,000-lb, Kodiak bear named Tag. Cox has also branded himself "the beast," looking to deafest Newsom’s "beauty." Given that, in 2018, Newsom defeated Cox by nearly 24%, Michaelson asked the Governor what he made of his challenger’s new strategy.
NEWSOM’S CENTRAL TAKE: "We're proud of bears in California, we want to treat him with love and respect…. I’m literally focused on other things, I paid no attention to any of that. I didn't watch it. I don’t, it’s just performative, that’s not my focus. That's that's a sideshow, that’s something else. This is what matters: encampments, cleaning the streets, homelessness, housing, affordability, dealing with down roads and traffic. Seriously, if I don't attend to that, all the rest of that just sucks you into a sideshow of triviality and irrelevance. And that's just not my focus…"
The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.