Sacramento — In his 2020 State of the State address Wednesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom
painted homelessness as the “ultimate manifestation of poverty” rooted in decades of political inaction, told lawmakers the crisis has morphed into the most urgent – and disgraceful – issue facing the nation’s richest state.
Newsom devoted the bulk of his 2020 State of the State address, his second since taking office, to homelessness and outlined a series of emergency issues he wants to take in order to get people off the streets, improve access to mental and behavioral health treatment and finally make a dent in a persistent housing shortage.
“The problem has persisted for decades—caused by massive failures in our mental health system and disinvestment in our social safety net—exacerbated by widening income inequality and California’s housing shortage,” Newsom said. “The hard truth is we ignored the problem.”
Newsom delivered his 2020 State of the State address knowing that President Trump was simultaneously campaigning and fundraising hundreds of miles away in the southern Central Valley and Los Angeles. The executives have sparred on Twitter and through the courts during their first terms on a gamut of issues, from raking forests, auto mileage standards, homelessness and immigration.
The timing of Trump’s visit certainly wasn’t lost on Newsom, and while he refrained from mentioning his rival by name, he didn’t miss a chance to slam the president.
“California is the rocket fuel powering America’s resurgence, that – let me be clear – was put into motion by President Barack Obama,” the Democratic governor said, drawing a standing ovation from the highly partisan crowd in the Assembly chambers.
Despite the stain of owning the nation’s largest homeless and unsheltered population, Newsom told the crowd to ignore the “tweets of Washington politicians” attempting to take credit for the recent stretch of economic growth.
California’s 40th governor rattled off a series of economic facts the state’s critics often neglect to mention, and reiterated it’s not all gloom in the Golden State.
“We remain the fifth-largest economy in the world – enjoying 118 consecutive months of net job growth, some 3.4 million jobs created since the Great Recession and nearly 4 million small businesses call California their home,” Newsom said.
Beginning his second year in charge, Newsom is boasting his highest approval ratings to date: According to the latest Public Policy Institute of California, Newsom has a 53% approval rate, up 9 points since January 2019.
Newsom is currently engaged in budget negotiations with lawmakers after proposing a record $222 billion spending plan last month. The plan includes major increases for wildfire prevention, homelessness, affordable housing and proposes a $4 billion climate bond for the November ballot.
During last year’s 43-minute address, Newsom cast the Trump administration’s immigration policies as “nativist and xenophobic and accused the president of fear-mongering.
This is a developing story.
— By Nick Cahill, CNS