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California Governor Sees ‘Brighter Days’ Ahead Amid Pandemic

 March 10, 2021 at 10:21 AM PST

Speaker 1: 00:00 Getting kids back to school, getting shots in arms and getting the economy back on its feet. Those are the three priorities. Governor Gavin Newsome outlined in his state of the state address. Last night, Newsome reviewed the past difficult year. The burdens Californians have suffered on the mistakes that have been made, but the governor who may be subject to a recall vote later this year, praised California's vaccine program as the most robust in the nation and predicted better days ahead, Speaker 2: 00:31 Even as we grieve, let's allow ourselves to dream a brighter days ahead because we won't be defined by this moment will be defined by what we do because of it. After all we are California, we don't wait for someone else to show us the way forward. We go first and we go boldly. We lead in gay rights, gun rights and criminal justice reform. And now we lead on combating. COVID Speaker 1: 00:58 Joining me as a reporter and producer for [inaudible] California politics and government desk, guy, Mars, karate, and guy. Welcome. Speaker 3: 01:05 Thanks so much for having me now, the Speaker 1: 01:07 Venue for this state of the state speech was different and it had a sort of layered symbolism. Tell us about it. Speaker 3: 01:14 That's right. So unlike most state of the state speeches, which are delivered in Sacramento in the assembly chambers, this was in Los Angeles at Dodger stadium, and you really couldn't have picked more of a Hollywood setting, right? This was, uh, layered with production values, uh, cameras flying over Newsome and over the stadium, as he spoke images projected over, uh, on screens behind him. And it was both I think, to display the fact that Dodger stadium is being used as a mass vaccination site, but also really to drive home the scale of loss that we've had here in the state from the Corona virus, the, you know, roughly 54,000 deaths in the state are kind of equal to the capacity of the ballpark, which really put in perspective, uh, kind of the scale of the loss. And I think really for Newsome, um, was the reason him and his team chose to deliver this address in primetime, in Los Angeles Speaker 1: 02:07 And in an empty Dodger stadium too, for maximum effect. Now, what aspects of this long pandemic year did the governor highlight in his speech? Speaker 3: 02:16 He really focused on nailing the diagnosis. Then as you put it up top, uh, accurately, it was vaccine distribution, getting kids back in school and economic recovery so that the diagnosis is there that will obviously drive both the state's recovery. Um, and to a large extent Newsome's own political future. Speaker 1: 02:34 The message about getting the state's economy back on its feet, maybe easier than the governor had expected because of a windfall in state revenues. Tell us about that. Speaker 3: 02:44 Well, you're exactly right. I think this is where California's progressive tax structure really comes into play, even though we've seen the unemployment rate rise in this state by roughly 5% over the last year, the state is, has ended up with billions of dollars in unexpected revenue, precisely because our state budget relies so much on the wealth of high earners, both in high income capital gains. And as we've seen, you know, Silicon Valley, California tech companies really do well in the stock market in the last few, in the last 12 months, uh, that's reflected in these revenues that we have to spend on things like school reopening and the so-called golden state stimulus Speaker 1: 03:23 State of the state address was characterized by some as the governor's first campaign speech in the expected recall election. Does it look like that recall petition will qualify Speaker 3: 03:34 Well we'll we'll know, uh, in, in the not too distant future, uh, uh, supporters of the recall campaign have a week to hand in those signatures. It is looking likely, uh, at this point that they will have enough to force an election probably later this year. Um, and it's, you know, once the election is certified, it's, anybody's better dependent in large part on who gets into the campaign, um, on face value Newsome, obviously as a Democrat enjoys, uh, a big registration advantage and would have to be considered the odds on favorite to keep his job. It was notable though, Marine last night, uh, you know, 3,600 words delivered by the governor. He did not mention the word recall once he made passing mention to a what he called a partisan power grab, California naysayers. Um, but I think for the most part, he wanted to make this speech about the positive vision going forward for the state and not dwell on the fact that the pandemic has really reshaped his own political future Speaker 1: 04:32 And reshape the polling surrounding his approval rating. That's dropped from 64% last September to 46% early this year. Can we pinpoint the reasons for that? Speaker 3: 04:45 Well, I think it's kind of a perfect storm of things for new. Some obviously there's very few politicians that have come out smelling like roses from this pandemic. You look at the, the economic toll, especially on low income earners in California, the school closures, the small business closures. And then there are the unforced errors, right? The dinner he had at French laundry gathering while he's know, telling Californians, not to gather in groups, uh, the, the vast problems that the state's employment development department, both with fraud and delays in getting out benefits. Republicans, you know, really went after Newsome after last night's speech for not even mentioning EDD, uh, in his state of the state address. And I think that might be in large part to Newsome thinking, this is not something I'm, you know, likely to turn around in the next few months. So the best political strategy might be avoidance. Um, but he definitely got some criticism on that. Um, so I really think it's, it's all of those factors that come into play when you're talking about why nuisance approval rating has declined. That being said, there are polls that show the, the decline is, is less, uh, to less than an extent than others Speaker 1: 05:50 Is speaking about the critical reaction to the speech. There were some comments from hopefuls, gubernatorial hopefuls, like former San Diego mayor, Kevin Faulkner. Here's what he had to say. Gavin Newsome has had almost unlimited emergency powers for a year and four months. We gave him the benefit of the doubt, but time and time again, he has completely failed on delivering the basics. I believe there should be a high bar for a recall. You have a Newsome has cleared it several times over. So what's next now for the governor, what challenges are ahead when it comes to the legislative side? Speaker 3: 06:33 Well, it was interesting. Unlike many state of the state addresses, this was not really focused on the five point plan, a legislative agenda going forward. I think Newsome and the legislature have done a lot in just the last couple of months since the legislature returned at the top of the year eviction protection legislation, the stimulus plan for economic relief, small business relief, and then this, you know, $6.6 billion plan to incentivize school reopening. So I think the large part is agenda. We'll be seeing those, uh, initiatives through that being said, the budget process is coming up in the next couple of months. We will see how Newsome is going to be spending some of these increased revenues that he has. Um, so that'll be something to watch over the summer. Speaker 1: 07:18 Okay. Then I've been speaking with reporter guy Maserati. He is reporter and producer for [inaudible] California politics and government desk guy. Thank you very much. My pleasure.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom has urged his exhausted state to dream of brighter days ahead during his annual State of the State address.
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