SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – Minutes after taking over for one of California’s most accomplished politicians in fellow Democrat Jerry Brown, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday offered up a progressive agenda and a promise of dissension from President Donald Trump’s “corruption.”
“Here in California, we will prove that people of good faith and firm will can still come together to achieve big things. We will offer an alternative to the corruption and incompetence in the White House,” the 40th governor of California said in his inaugural address.
After taking his oath of office outside the state Capitol in front of an audience filled with political heavyweights, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the 51-year-old Newsom said his administration will soon launch a “Marshall Plan” for affordable housing as well as continue fights with some of the most influential lobbies in the state.
“Make no mistake, there are powerful forces arrayed against us. Not just politicians in Washington — but drug companies that gouge Californians with sky-high prices. A gun lobby willing to sacrifice the lives of our children to line their pockets,” Newsom said in 25-minute address. “In other places, interests like these still have a tight grip on power. But here in California, we have the power to stand up to them — and we will.”
Under a makeshift tent due to a weekend of stormy weather, the former lieutenant governor spoke of his childhood and briefly of his father, State Appeals Court Judge Bill Newsom who died last month. The governor said his father instilled in him the “bedrock California value” of treating everyone fairly and with respect.
“That notion – that we’re all in this together – is a powerful one. It’s also how I was raised,” Newsom said.
Thanks to an extended stretch of economic stability combined with Gov. Jerry Brown’s fiscal shrewdness, Newsom, a Democrat, finds himself in charge of an estimated $30 billion in budget surplus and rainy day reserves.
The former San Francisco mayor will also enjoy Democratic supermajorities in both state chambers in addition to a new Democratic majority on the state Supreme Court.
Newsom repeatedly told the crowd he intends to keep a watchful eye over the state’s budding coffers and avoid new permanent spending programs as his predecessor did over the last eight years.
That’s not to say the new governor won’t crack open the coffers, as he’s expected to propose more than $1 billion in new spending for preschool funding and tuition-free community college when he introduces his first budget proposal on Thursday.
“We will be prudent stewards of taxpayer dollars, pay down debt and meet our future obligations. And we will build and safeguard the largest fiscal reserve of any state in American history. But let me be clear: We will be bold. We will aim high and we will work like hell to get there,” Newsom said.
The Golden State’s coffers may be overflowing but Newsom will be tasked with halting California’s widespread housing shortage and its growing homelessness population.
On the campaign trail, Newsom, without specifics, said he wants developers to build 3.5 million new homes by 2025. Since 1954, developers have only built more than 300,000 new homes in a single year twice.
Along with boosting California’s housing supply, Newsom says his administration will “seize the moment” and help local municipalities combat homelessness through an open-door policy.
“I will partner with mayors, sheriffs, and supervisors all over this state, I know the pressures you face. I’ve been there. The only way to fix our problems is if you are empowered to lead the way,” Newsom added.
A minor protest at the back of the tent interrupted the beginning of the ceremony but it was Newsom’s youngest son Dutch that stopped the show. Dutch, who will turn three next month, wandered onto the stage, drawing laughs from his father and the hundreds in attendance. Newsom, the first partner and their four kids will soon move into the governor’s mansion, which was renovated by Brown during his final two terms.
After acknowledging outgoing Gov. Brown, Newsom promised the crowd that his administration would continue to build on Brown’s recent criminal justice reforms. He hopes to continue reducing prison populations and “end the outrage of private prisons once and for all.”
Speaker Pelosi, D-San Francisco, blew kisses to the crowd as she took her seat. She is scheduled to speak Monday at incoming Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis’s swearing in ceremony.
San Francisco voters in 2003 made Newsom the youngest mayor in city history and re-elected him in 2007. During his second mayoral term, Newsom announced he would run for governor but eventually nixed the bid after falling behind in the polls to Brown. He went on to serve two terms as lieutenant governor, spending the last several years preparing for his gubernatorial race.
Newsom cruised to an overwhelming victory on Election Day, beating upstart Republican candidate John Cox by more than 21 percentage points.
The ceremony capped off a weekend of festivities in Sacramento, including a benefit concert Sunday at the nearby Golden 1 Center. The concert, headlined by rappers Common and Pitbull, raised an estimated $5 million meant to aid recovery efforts for the devastating Camp Fire last November. T