Full transcript of Gov. Newsom’s remarks for his State of the State address
It goes without saying: Given the state of our world, I don’t imagine there are many people outside of these walls waiting on the words that will be said here tonight.
But it’s important, as the Rabbi [Denise Eger] said, for us to come together, nonetheless.
Not just to mark how far we’ve come in our fight against COVID, but also to reaffirm our commitment to democratic institutions.
As the people of Ukraine continue to come under assault — 2 million, by the way, 2 million already displaced from their homes, we take strength in their contagious courage as well as their willingness to fight for their freedom.
So tonight is a moment, a moment for us to reflect — not just on what’s happening overseas but on what it means to live in a society where elected leaders still settle our disagreements, by and large, with civility and compromise.
How we derive strength from a government that reflects the people we represent.
Newsom said little about his vision for the final year of his first term. Instead he chose to emphasize climate change policies, COVID-19 response and the state’s prospering economy, a preview of the case he’ll make to voters in his campaign for a second term.
Think about it: Our [Assembly] speaker, son of working-class parents and grandson of Mexican immigrants. He worked his way through California’s public education system, earning a PhD from UC Riverside. Now committed to ensuring every child has access to early learning.
Our [state Senate] pro tem, born in poverty in Virginia. She came to California and became a champion for housing and equal rights for all. The first openly gay woman to lead both the Assembly and state Senate.
Our [California Supreme Court] chief justice, public school graduate. Descendant of migrant farmworkers, speaking out against income inequality and tackling the cost of justice for people in poverty.
And take our constitutional officers here tonight — think about this — [they] include the daughter of an Arkansas sharecropper, an immigrant from the Philippines, the daughters of parents born in China and Greece, one raised by a teacher from Panama, and the proud son of undocumented Mexican immigrants.
Thank you, all, for your remarkable service to our state.
California does democracy like nowhere else in the world. And no other place offers opportunity to so many from so many different backgrounds. But we cannot take our democracy for granted.
Authoritarian and illiberal impulses aren’t just rising overseas. They’ve been echoing here at home for some time. While we may not have a strongman, quite literally, waging war in our country, we are plagued by agents of a national anger machine, fueling division, weaponizing grievance.
Powerful forces and loud voices — stoking fear and seeking to divide us, weakening the institutions of our democracy.
Counting on complacency to erode voting rights, scapegoating vulnerable minorities.
Conjuring conspiracies and promoting otherness.
Actively exploiting the “anger of the anxious.”
Anger, by the way, that finds a home when people feel understandably disconnected from each other and our collective future, when that future doesn’t look as bright as the past, making them more susceptible to the siren calls of those trying to tear us apart.
Foundationally, this is a threat we must all face, together, and prove there’s a better way — a California Way — forward.
The California Way means rejecting old binaries and finding new solutions to big problems.
For example, the speaker was talking about climate policy. California has no peers.
For years, we’ve set the rules, and others have followed. Over time, we’ve learned we can’t solve big problems like climate change situationally with short-term thinking.
Look, no one’s naïve about the moment we’re living in with high gas prices and the geopolitical uncertainty that’s fueling them.
In January, we proposed a pause for the gas tax increase.
Now it’s clear we have to go farther.
And that’s why — working with legislative leadership — I’ll be submitting a proposal to put money back in the pockets of Californians to address rising gas prices.
But I want to make this clear: At a time when we’ve been heating up and burning up, one thing we cannot do is repeat the mistakes of the past by embracing polluters, drilling even more oil — which only leads to even more extreme weather, more extreme drought and more wildfire.
What more evidence? What more evidence do we need than our own state?
Just think about the past few years. We’ve seen whole communities nearly wiped off the map.
Greenville. Paradise. Grizzly Flats.
How many more are we willing to sacrifice? We need to be fighting polluters, not bolstering them. And in the process of doing so, freeing us once and for all from the grasp of petro-dictators.
This conversation can’t just be about supply, can’t just be about oil supply. Daily life still demands too much fossil fuel.
That, too, has to change, underscoring the importance of accelerating California’s leadership in clean technology. This is not just a national security and an environmental justice imperative — clean energy is this generation’s greatest economic opportunity.
A perfect example, by the way, a perfect example of that, is our dominance in electric vehicle sales and manufacturing.
It was, by the way, California policies that created this market.
Now we have the opportunity to extend this leadership, to secure a critical component of the supply chain for batteries, by tapping one of the world’s largest lithium reserves — right here in California, in Imperial Valley. And consider this: our nation-leading climate investments — some $38 billion — will ensure that other innovations will surely follow, not by re-creating the 20th century, by extracting more oil, but by extracting new ideas, drilling for new talent by running our economy on a carbon-free engine.
That’s the California Way.
Now when it comes to the economy, California is unmatched. We dominate.
We dominate in research, innovation, entrepreneurialism, venture capital — and remain the world’s fifth-largest economy. Our GDP growth? Our GDP growth has consistently outpaced not only the rest of the country — but most other large, western democracies. Nearly a million new jobs in the last 12 months. Think about this: In December alone, 25 percent of America’s jobs were created right here in California, a million new jobs just in the last 12 months.
More new business starts during the worst of the pandemic than Texas and Florida combined.
But you know what makes us different from those states — besides the freedom of a woman’s right to choose? It’s that as our businesses grow, we don’t leave our workers behind.
Just consider what we did last year for the middle class here in our state. We sent $12 billion back — the largest state tax rebate in American history.
But we didn’t stop there. We didn’t stop there.
We raised the minimum wage. We increased paid sick leave. We provided more paid family leave.
We expanded child care to help working parents.
And this year, with your support, we will do something no other state in America has done — provide health for all, regardless of immigration status.
That’s the California Way.
And speaking of not leaving people behind, no state, no state, took bolder steps to protect public health and human life over the last two years.
Our lockdowns, distressing as they were, saved lives. Our mask mandates saved lives. Your choices saved lives. California experienced far lower COVID death rates than any other large state. Fewer than Texas, Ohio, fewer than Florida — 35 percent fewer, to be exact.
But, mindful, even with three quarters of Californians being fully vaccinated, we are mindful that we cannot let our guard down.
That’s why just last month, we put out our “SMARTER Plan” — the nation’s first blueprint to stay a step ahead of future variants and seasonal surges.
And I just want to thank you, thank all of you. Thank you members of this Legislature for all you did these past two years to help keep us safe.
But there’s another crisis — all too familiar, referenced just a moment ago. And that’s the crisis of homelessness, which we know has worsened over the last decade, not only here in California, but across the nation.
It was just a few years ago, California lacked any comprehensive strategy. No accountability and no meaningful state resources to solve the problem. But that’s all changed.
In just the past three years, we not only have a comprehensive plan, we’re also requiring new accountability and providing unprecedented investments for cities and counties on the front lines.
And while we’ve moved a record 58,000 people off the streets — 58,000 since the beginning of the pandemic — we recognize, we all recognize, we have more to do — particularly to address what’s happening on our sidewalks, reaching people who need the most help.
Those with schizophrenia spectrum and psychosis disorders, many self-medicating with drugs or alcohol addictions.
That’s precisely what our encampment resolution grants, and our new Care Court, seek to address.
Getting people off the streets and out of tents and into housing and treatment is essential, clearly essential, to making our streets safe for everyone.
But public safety certainly isn’t just about homelessness.
Bobby Kennedy, just six weeks before he was killed by an assassin’s bullet, reminded us that the health of a society depends on the ability of people to walk their own streets in safety. Not to be frightened into isolation.
“A nation,” he said, “which surrenders to crime — whether by indifference or heavy-handed repression, is a society which has resigned itself to failure.”
Our approach is to be neither indifferent to the realities of the present day, nor revert to the heavy-handed policies that have marked the failures of the past. We’re funding local law enforcement and prosecutors to investigate and solve more crime. We’re bolstering the attorney general’s office, prosecuting organized theft rings and getting illegal guns off the streets.
But we’re also, we’re also investing hundreds of millions in new programs to tackle the root causes of crime, doubling down on proven violence prevention programs.
That is the California Way.
Of course, to tackle any root cause, we need to talk about education. And I’m not talking about that version of education reform being promoted in some states, where they’re banning — quite literally, you can’t make this up, they’re banning books. Where you can sue your history teacher for teaching history and where you can’t say even the word “gay.”
I’m talking about real transformation of our public education system, like we’re doing right here in the state of California. By creating choices — real choices — for parents and unprecedented support for their kids.
A whole new grade, transitional kindergarten, for all: nine hours of enrichment a day with true, universal before- and after-school programs. Expanded summer school. Universal, nutritious meals, millions of new child savings accounts and free community college.
That’s the California Way.
Look, I think all of us here can at least agree: people have always looked to California for inspiration.
Now, in the midst of so much turmoil with stacking of stresses and dramatic social and economic change, California is doing what we have done for generations: lighting out [for] the territory ahead of the rest, expanding the horizon of what’s possible.
We know, we know, that government cannot be the entire solution. But we also know that government has always been part of the solution.
By creating a platform for people, and the private sector, to thrive.
And as [Thomas] Friedman said — we have a formula, a formula for success setting rules for risk-taking, not recklessness.
Infrastructure, research and development, investing in our conveyor belt for talent, the finest system of higher education anywhere in the world: our CSUs, UCs and community colleges. And ensuring society provides a hand up when people need help, maintaining, maintaining our pro-immigrant policies and welcoming refugees from around the world.
Those are all California values.
Embracing diversity, but also seeking common ground. Pursuing greater connectedness.
Not exploiting division with performative politics and memes of the moment, but by unifying towards common purpose.
Inviting more people, with diverse perspectives, from different backgrounds — “to strive, to seek, to find, to not yield” — all into the fight for a better California.
Thank you, all, very, very much. Thank you for the privilege of your time tonight.
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