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Thursday, July 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

California governor to deliver State of the State in prerecorded message

Some Republicans have pushed back on Governor Gavin Newsom's decision to not deliver an in-person address, saying it's disrespectful.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — California Governor Gavin Newsom will deliver his State of the State speech on Tuesday, he announced over the weekend.

It was the second of two weekend announcements from the governor, following the agreement he and top Democratic lawmakers reached on the fiscal year 2024-25 budget.

The speech, initially scheduled for March 18, won’t be in person. Instead, Newsom will send a written copy of his remarks to the Legislature and deliver a prerecorded speech on his office’s social media channels and website at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Republicans in March were quick to criticize Newsom over canceling the speech, pointing as a possible reason to the Proposition 1 ballot issue, which at the time remained too close to call. The ballot measure, focused on restructuring the state’s behavioral and mental health systems, ultimately passed with 50.2% of the vote.

Some Republicans also were quick to slam both the budget agreement and Newsom’s decision to not give his address in person.

“There are certain things you do out of respect when you, you know, respect traditions,” Assemblymember Joe Patterson, a Rocklin Republican, posted on X, formerly Twitter. “This administration places no value on the importance of the Legislature — a co-equal branch of govt.”

Republican Assemblymember James Gallagher, his chamber’s minority leader, expressed similar thoughts on social media.

“The disrespect of the Legislature continues … is he just going to send a courier to drop the speech off at the desk?” Gallagher posted. “Then again, the state of the state is embarrassing. Record homelessness and crime. Spending money on trains and electric busses while our kids are shortchanged.”

Newsom is expected to speak about the state’s commitment to shoring up democracy, civil rights and social progress as threats loom against them. He’s also expected to point to California’s moves to address public safety, homelessness and mental health.

It’s also possible he will mention the budget agreement, which calls for $297.9 billion in expenditures for fiscal year 2024-25, which starts July 1. It also fills a $46.8 billion deficit through cuts, shifting funds, delayed or deferred spending and the use of reserves.

One part of fixing the budget shortfall is the addition of a trigger to implement a $25 minimum wage for qualifying health care workers, a bill passed into law last year.  

There are two possible triggers. The first is linked to Newsom submitting a federal waiver for an additional quality assurance fee, expected to yield billions in dollars for hospitals. The second trigger option is revenues outperforming projections by 3%, which is expected to lead to the higher wage sometime between October and the new year.

Other fixes included reducing state department operations by almost 8%, some $2.2 billion in savings; eliminating funding for vacant positions, another $1.5 billion in savings; and removing $1.1 billion in funding to affordable housing programs.

Democratic Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, praised the agreement in a statement.  

“Today’s budget agreement is proof that we can be both compassionate and fiscally responsible,” Gabriel said. “I am proud that this budget protects classroom funding, critical safety net programs, and carefully targeted investments in key housing and homelessness programs.”

State Senator Roger Niello, a Fair Oaks Republican and vice chair of his chamber's Budget and Fiscal Review Committee, told Courthouse News that once a government takes all the actions it can to balance a budget, and a deficit isn't filled, it still has a fallback maneuver.

"You just assume more revenue and then it's balanced," Niello said. "And they're doing that."

An effort to repeal Proposition 47 — which 10 years ago reduced certain property and drug crimes to misdemeanors — also could be included in the governor’s address, along with a package of crime bills that has been linked to the effort.

The crime bills, once bipartisan, drew Republican outrage after Democrats added urgency and inoperability clauses to make the bills null and void if the Proposition 47 repeal measure passes in November.

Some Republicans have claimed the state attorney general will use the inoperability of the bills to write a biased title and description of the ballot measure to repeal Proposition 47.

Assemblymember Heath Flora, a Lodi Republican and vice chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, said he wants to hear a message of hope, as well as a plan, from the governor’s address.

“California needs hope,” Flora told Courthouse News on Monday. “There are so many negative things that are going on. The governor tends to speak in platitudes.”

Niello said he wants to hear Newsom talk about the state's rising poverty levels and failure to address homelessness.

"Some real discussion of people and businesses that might be moving out of the state," Niello said, adding that he doesn't think Newsom will acknowledge those issues.

Like some of his colleagues, Flora also wishes Newsom would stand in person before the Assembly to deliver his remarks. He said there’s a perceived disdain from the governor toward the legislative bodies, despite the Legislature being co-equal to the governor’s office.

“I would far prefer for him to do it in person and not hide behind a computer screen,” Flora said.

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