Newsom grabs attention with new budget

In summary

California Governor Gavin Newsom likes to show off and his latest example is the elaborate rollout of a revised state budget that he touts as historic and transformational.

Gavin Newsom is, to use an old-fashioned term, a show-off, someone who constantly seeks attention with extravagant representations of what he has done or wants to do.

Sometimes it works – as it did when he was mayor of San Francisco and defied state law to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Sometimes not. What happened to that election promise that, as governor, he would build 3.5 million new homes?

If anything, the recall campaign to kick him out of office has made Newsom’s relentless bragging even stronger, with the rollout of a revised 2021-2022 budget a demonstration of full-throated bravado.

Although Newsom’s pandemic shutdown orders triggered a severe recession, throwing millions out of work, by chance the state has also seen an unprecedented increase in tax revenue, tens of billions of dollars more. .

High-income Californians, who are the biggest source of taxes, saw their investments skyrocket as the Federal Reserve’s liquidity policies inflated the value of assets, especially stocks, and the state reaped cornucopia of income thanks to this phenomenon.

Newsom announced the budget had a surplus of $ 75.7 billion and with an additional $ 26 billion in unanticipated federal pandemic assistance, it could come up with a “$ 100 billion return to California plan.” These are new spending for everything from direct payments to low- and middle-income families, to expanding child care and school support services, water supply, a costly attack on homelessness and helping small businesses.

Newsom has exposed major elements of the plan in personal appearances around the state, each time portraying it as transformational, if not revolutionary, to the extent of itself in the lead role.

On Friday, he closed the week by presenting the full budget of $ 267.8 billion, in which he repeatedly emphasized its unique expansive nature.

To some extent, the budget and its carefully planned week-long rollout was clearly aimed at softening the recall campaign, ostensibly providing benefits to a myriad of economic and cultural groups with its personal imprimatur.

However, he’s actually in little danger of being ousted, according to recent polls. There were other implicit motives, such as taking the opportunity to once again call attention to himself by reporting and / or making headlines, this time with a progressive program of services and programs that go beyond anything found elsewhere in the country.

“This is a generational budget,” Newsom said at the end of his hour-and-a-half piece-by-piece presentation. “This is a historic and transformational budget. It is not a budget that plays ball. We are not playing on the sidelines. We are not trying to fail more effectively. “

However, while the new budget provisions include things those on the left have been clamoring for for years, such as universal child care and preschool, it raises the question of how they will be funded when federal funds dry up and run out. current income. the bubble bursts. By creating new rights, the budget sets the stage for future battles over tax increases to fund their maintenance.

Finally, it rekindles speculation about Newsom’s future, assuming he beats the recall and wins a second term next year, which is very likely. A White House run always seemed like the end of Newsom’s game, but when Joe Biden won the presidency last year – and Californian Kamala Harris became vice president – his path to 2024 was blocked.

Newsom’s move to national politics could be a race for the US Senate in 2024, assuming Dianne Feinstein does not seek re-election, which increasingly seems likely. A new IGS survey from Berkeley found that only 35% of California voters approve of his performance.


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