By Jessica Millan Patterson | Special to CalMatters
In his inaugural address one year ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom said of California, “This is where America’s future is made. This is our charge. That is our calling.”
Gov. Newsom has had a full year, and a supermajority of Democrats in the Legislature. And yet with this power and ability to fix California’s pressing problems, I must give Gov. Newsom a solid F for his first year in office.
California has serious issues and needs serious leaders to fix them.
Unfortunately, our governor has spent much of his first year grabbing headlines with unnecessary fights with the federal government and ignoring the Californians he was elected to protect. Just as he did in his eight years as lieutenant governor, he has spent more time with his eyes on his next political ambition than doing the job at hand.
Please allow me to be more specific:
- Homelessness Crisis, F. California’s homelessness epidemic is out of control and is worsening. While some may say that Gov. Newsom inherited this issue, one doesn’t need to look farther than the epicenter of the crisis, San Francisco, to see then Mayor Newsom’s fingerprints on this problem long before he entered the governor’s office.
In the year that he has been at the helm, California’s homelessness crisis has exploded. According to US News and World Report, “The most populous state in the United States, California saw the largest spike to its homeless population with an increase of 21,306 people in 2019, which was more than the total national increase of every other state combined.” For this alone, Governor Newsom should be fired. In any private sector job, he would be.
- Housing Costs, F. There is no relief from Golden State’s skyrocketing housing costs. Red tape often hinders housing development or makes the costs prohibitively high so new projects take years to complete or are abandoned altogether. Where is Gov. Newsom?
Instead of helping people who can’t find an affordable place to live, he is fast-tracking a new sports arena for his rich buddies in Los Angeles. It’s unconscionable that these barriers to development are removed for a sports franchise and not hard working Californians who are struggling to make ends meet. It is yet another example of Gov. Newsom forgetting the people he was elected to serve.
- Transparency, F. The hallmark of untrustworthy politicians is when they say one thing and do another. There is no better example than Gov. Newsom’s raid on California’s gas tax. While Californians struggle to pay the highest gas taxes in the country, Newsom is unilaterally deciding to move that money away from its promised goal: fixing our broken roads. California’s roads are crumbling and our infrastructure is a mess. Yet these funds are being moved away from roads to other uses of the governor’s choosing.
- Education, F. California’s schools are failing our children. We consistently rank low in education nationwide, yet Gov. Newsom and the Democrats, emboldened by their union supporters, have done nothing. Despite continuing to spend billions on education, the California State Auditor recently found that “the state’s approach has not ensured that significant funding is benefiting students.”
That simple statement says so much – our tax dollars are not helping the most vulnerable population with the most vital aspect of our state: the public education of our kids.
Gov. Newsom and the Democrats have been beholden for far too long to the teachers’ unions, which in turn fail the best and brightest teachers who must fix problems created by union-protected bad teachers, and block major changes to California’s failing education system. That must change, Our state’s future depends on it.
Gov. Newsom was given perhaps the easiest road toward fixing California’s problems with the support of a supermajority in the Legislature. But Democratic policies and proposals simply don’t work.
The governor’s failures during his first year in office, with almost blind support from the Democrats in the Legislature, show that California needs new leadership to address the problems we face.
We are rebuilding the California Republican Party from the ground up, and are proud of the new, diverse and hard-working candidates who are running for seats throughout the state. We are excited for the inclusive party we are building, and look forward to showing California what the California Republican Comeback will mean for your families, your communities, and our state.
Jessica Millan Patterson is chairwoman of the California Republican Party, firstname.lastname@example.org. She wrote this commentary for CalMatters, a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s Capitol works and why it matters.
The author wrote this for CalMatters, a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s Capitol works and why it matters.