In His First State of the State, Gavin Newsom Rails Against Trump and Derails Train Plans

The Democratic governor says the president has “a vision of an America fundamentally at odds with California values.”

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

At his inaugural State of the State address Tuesday morning, California Gov. Gavin Newsom opened with a firm rebuke of Donald Trump, calling the message from the president’s State of the Union address last week “fundamentally at odds with California values.” “He described a country where inequality didn’t seem to be a problem, where climate change doesn’t exist, and where the greatest threat we face comes from families at the border seeking asylum from violence-stricken countries,” said the Democrat, who took office in January.

Newsom’s first target was Trump’s immigration and border policies. “The border ’emergency’ is a manufactured crisis and California will not be part of this political theater,” Newsom said, reiterating a declaration he made Monday to withdraw almost 400 of California’s National Guard troops from the border. A third of those soldiers will now help prepare for this year’s upcoming fire season, “work, ironically, the federal government curtailed during the recent shutdown,” Newsom pointed out.

Newsom noted that California’s population of undocumented immigrants is at its lowest level in more than a decade (a point backed up by a recent Pew Research Center report). He also noted that immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans. He said that a border wall stretching through “thousands of miles of wilderness” would do nothing to stop the threat of drug smuggling, which mostly occurs at border ports of entry. “This is our answer to the White House: No more division, no more xenophobia, and no more nativism.”

Newsom pivoted to California’s high-speed rail project, which would cost $77 billion and wouldn’t begin operating until 2033. “Let’s be real,” he said. “The project, as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long.” He announced that he is ending the rail project that would have connected San Francisco with Los Angeles, but will continue work on the high-speed rail link between Merced and Bakersfield in California’s Central Valley. Newsom said that building that section is about “more than a train project”—it’s about “economic transformation and unlocking the enormous potential of the valley.”

Newsom went on to cover the state’s problems with drought and access to clean drinking water, noting that “just this morning, more than a million Californians woke up without clean water to bathe in, let alone drink.” He added, “Some poorer communities, like those I visited recently in Stanislaus County, are paying more for undrinkable water than Beverly Hills pays for its pristine water. This is a moral disgrace and a medical emergency.

In an effort to stem the state’s homelessness crisis, Newsom proposed adding $500 million for emergency shelters and another $100 million for “Whole Person Care,” a federally funded pilot program that identifies homeless people who visit emergency rooms and pairs them with community health providers “to replace a fragmented approach to services with one that’s more integrated and comprehensive.”

After addressing these areas, Newsom described housing costs as “our most overwhelming challenge right now.” He reiterated his plan to commit $750 million in incentives for communities that update and revamp their zoning and housing plans to build more housing. “If we want a California for all,” said Newsom, who is currently selling his North Bay home for $6 million and is purchasing a 12,000-square-foot mansion in Sacramento, “we have to build housing for all.”

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