How Gov-Elect Gavin Newsom could shape California’s future, issue by issue

Gavin Newsom first ran for governor in 2010, an effort he abandoned and then relaunched in 2015 with the long, long campaign that crescendoed Tuesday tonight. Now that California voters have given the 51-year-old Democrat the job he has sought for eight years, he is about to discover that winning was the easy part.

Governing is hard, particularly in a state as big, complex, troubled and expensive as California. We have the world’s fifth largest economy and, with our cost of living, the nation’s highest rate of poverty.

The shortage of affordable housing has pushed the middle class out of the state’s coastal jobs centers—or out of state altogether—while exacerbating a decades-long crisis of homelessness and sending college housing costs into the stratosphere. Pension costs weigh on city finances, wildfires rage nearly year-round, the academic achievement gap hobbles prospects for too many poor and brown public school students, and lately the state’s relationship with the federal government has been one of permanent litigation.

Over the course of his very long candidacy, Newsom laid out a robust vision. In his words: “Guaranteed health care for all. A ‘Marshall Plan’ for affordable housing. A master plan for aging with dignity. A middle-class workforce strategy. A cradle-to-college promise for the next generation. An all-hands approach to ending child poverty.”

He hasn’t always detailed how he would pay for his promises, nor which policies he would be willing to jettison in the face of political pushback or certain budgetary constraints.

That changes on January 7 with his inauguration. On key issues, here’s what to expect.

Housing and homelessness: Millions more units?

The governor-elect is a self-described fan of “Big Hairy Audacious Goals,” and they don’t come much bigger, more audacious and presumably more hairy than his plan to solve California’s housing crisis.

On the campaign trail, he pledged to lead an effort to build 3.5 million units of new housing by 2025, a construction pace Californians haven’t seen since they started keeping track of that type of thing.

He says he can reach that goal—which some have criticized as impractically astronomical—by significantly increasing funds for government-subsidized housing and rolling back some regulations that impede new development, especially for housing around public transit.

“It’s an enormous number and a necessary number,” said Assemblyman David Chiu, Democrat from San Francisco and head of the Assembly’s housing committee. “Just the fact that he has laid out that goal is exciting.”

When pushed, affordable housing advocates and others that work on housing issues admit the 3.5 million goal probably isn’t realistic. Still most welcome Newsom as a refreshing change of pace from the outgoing governor.

Despite a much-celebrated package of housing legislation he helped shepherd to passage last year, Gov. Jerry Brown was criticized for not prioritizing housing in a state where the median price of a single family home rose to over $500,000 on his watch and ever-rising rents are forcing low-income residents to leave the state en masse.

“It’s what you focus on as governor, it’s what you meet with your staff about every …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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