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Gov. Newsom Previews Policy Priorities In Inaugural Speech

California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks during his inauguration as his son, Dutch, runs around the podium Monday, Jan. 7, 2019.
Associated Press
California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks during his inauguration as his son, Dutch, runs around the podium Monday, Jan. 7, 2019.

Capital Public Radio Capitol bureau chief Ben Adler covered the changing of the guard in Sacramento Monday as Governor-elect Gavin Newsom was sworn into office. He also covered all of Gov. Jerry Brown’s second term.

He joined KPBS Evening Edition anchor Ebone Monet to talk about Newsom’s speech and what Adler would miss about Brown’s second term.

Here are some highlights from the interview.


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Q: Can you tell us what was the atmosphere like there today?

A: It was celebratory and anticipatory, but also I think reflective because we did have this end of an institution in California that is Gov. Jerry Brown, and the beginning of a new era with California’s 40th governor, Gavin Newsom. And Newsom even nodded to that during the speech when he referenced a warning that Governor Brown gave throughout his time in office; the sermon on the mount, build our house on rock, not sand—the fiscal house. And Newsom acknowledged that and said absolutely Jerry Brown did create that foundation of rock. Now Newsom said we are going to build a house on that. Which I think symbolizes not just this transition of power, but also that Newsom does intend to make some big bold proposals. Proposals that maybe Jerry Brown might not have been so in favor of or forward on.

Q: Did Governor Newsom give any indication of what will be his day one priority?

A: We’ve heard him drop a few hints. We’ve heard him talk about wanting to create universal preschool for 4-year-olds. So universal kindergarten, we expect to see that proposed in his state budget when he puts it out this Thursday. Also looking to do some other investments in childcare, and as well as a major expansion of paid family leave. Right now there are six weeks for new parents. Newsom wants to expand that to six months, as well as allow for that time to be spread out over a larger period of time, and be shared with family members who might be helping to care for newborns.


And then we’re going to be watching to see what he does with healthcare. He campaigned on universal, rather on single-payer healthcare. He’s acknowledged that might not be doable right up front with the current federal administration and President Trump. And so I think we may be looking at more moves towards universal healthcare which is extending the existing system, that’s a mix of public and private providers, to every Californian, legal and living in the state illegally, and folks who can’t afford it and folks who struggle to afford it.

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Q: Governor Jerry Brown was very outspoken in opposition to the Trump administration on a number of issues, from climate change to immigration. How do you see California’s relationship with the federal government changing under Newsom’s leadership?

A: Well, Brown picks his battles on when to speak publicly in criticism, directly or indirectly, of Donald Trump. Newsom has been much more frequent and direct and pointed in his criticism, both as a candidate and even continuing on through the transition. Despite the fact that you had this surreal day a few weeks back where Brown, Newsom and Trump toured the wildfire zones together. We will see if Newsom tempers his tone when he is in office. In the speech today, he mentioned the administration, the White House. He did not mention Donald Trump by name.

Q: Finally, what will you miss about covering the state capitol lead by outgoing Governor Jerry Brown?

A: Well, love him or hate him, Jerry Brown was a one-of-a-kind American politician. And sometimes you agreed with his policies, and sometimes you didn’t. Sometimes you agreed with his sentiments, sometimes you didn’t. But he was always entertaining to cover. He was quick with a Latin quote, or a historical or literary reference, “brown-isms.” There will be fewer of those brown-isms, at least more regularly these days. And Newsom is a different type of governor. So we went from Arnold Schwarzenegger with his movie quotes, to Jerry Brown with his Latin quotes, and we’ll see what Gavin Newsom follows that up with.

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