Newsom Delivers First State of the State Address

On Tuesday, Governor Gavin Newsom delivered his first State of the State address to a joint session of the California Legislature. In a nearly 40-minute address, Newsom covered a wide array of issues, from the strong California economy to immigration to the environment, all while reiterating his commitment to defending the California constitution and the “California dream.”

Newsom discussed the importance of immigrant populations to California and announced that he would be reassigning National Guard troops currently stationed at the U.S.-Mexico border to prepare for the upcoming fire season by joining CALFIRE in wildfire prevention and suppression activities, among other tasks. Newsom went on to discuss significant infrastructure projects throughout the state, including the high-speed rail initiative, water issues, and energy and environmental challenges.

He highlighted the need to address the homelessness crisis, declaring the epidemic an “urgent moral issue” and an increasing “public health crisis.” Newsom pointed to the recent Hepatitis A outbreak in San Diego, a syphilis outbreak in Sonoma, and typhus outbreak in Los Angeles as proof of the need to urgently address homelessness and its underlying causes. To further his administration’s efforts on this front, Newsom announced during his address that he was appointing a new Commission on Homelessness and Supportive Housing to be led by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.

Newsom also discussed the need to focus on the major demographic challenge of aging facing California, indicating that the statewide senior population will increase by four million individuals over the next decade and will double in 25 years. He called for the need to develop a master plan on aging that will focus on person-centered care, public services, social isolation, transportation, and nursing and caretaker shortages. Along those same lines, Newsom also announced the creation of the Alzheimer’s Prevention and Preparedness Task Force to be led by former California First Lady Maria Shriver.

Related to health care, Newsom outlined his proposals included in his January budget release that would establish a state health insurance coverage individual mandate, expand insurance subsidies to certain individuals, expand coverage to undocumented young adults, increase healthcare provider reimbursement rates, and address provider shortages. Newsom also highlighted his proposals to increase access to preventive health measures, including immunizations, trauma screenings, and mental health services.

Newsom decried the rising costs of healthcare, stating “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.” Pointing to the cost of prescription drugs, Newsom discussed his recent executive order that would establish a bulk purchasing program for prescription drugs.

Rounding out his first state of the state address, Newsom underscored the need to address affordability, housing, and workforce efforts in California, and announced a new Commission on California’s Workforce and Future of Work that will be tasked with expanding economic opportunity for all Californians.

In his closing remarks, Newsom emphasized that while there are a significant number of challenges facing California, he believes in “the remarkable talent assembled” in the legislature, in the state, and that the “best is yet to come” for California.