Newsom Says California Made People’s Lives Better as National Leader in 2023

Newsom Says California Made People’s Lives Better as National Leader in 2023

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The governor touted the state’s efforts to address 37 issues—including mental health, crime, and homelessness, among others.

With a new year approaching, California Gov. Gavin Newsom listed the state’s accomplishments from the past 12 months and celebrated what he said was a year of progress and exemplary leadership.

“From taking on global problems to finding community-based solutions, this year California delivered on critical action to make people’s lives better, safer, healthier, and happier,” Mr. Newsom said in a Dec. 28 press release. “As the country continues to recover and grow under the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration, California is closing 2023 as a national leader in putting people first, safeguarding freedoms, and creating economic opportunity.”

Highlighting 37 issues—including mental health, public safety, and infrastructure, among others—the governor detailed the state’s efforts to address problems impacting communities.

“From taking on Big Oil to tackling big challenges—from mental health care to housing—California enacted ambitious efforts to improve the safety, health, and well-being of all Californians in 2023,” he said.

In 2023, Mr. Newsom filed a lawsuit seeking billions of dollars in damages against 100 oil companies alleging their product has caused air, land, and water contamination. He additionally enacted new price-gouging regulations on the industry, intended to keep prices low at the pump.

A nearly two-minute-long video accompanying the press release takes a month-by-month glance at the last year—from atmospheric rivers in January which led to more than 1,400 rescues to retail theft and fentanyl interdiction in December.

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With a record number of overdose deaths in San Francisco and widespread drug abuse affecting communities across the state, Mr. Newsom released in March his “master plan” to address addiction and ordered the California National Guard and the Highway Patrol to work together to dismantle drug trafficking networks.

Retail theft task forces were also deployed earlier this year in the Bay Area and in Southern California to counter smash-and-grab robberies and shoplifting.

More than $30 million in stolen goods were recovered in recent years, according to the governor’s video. He did not provide in the retrospective, however, how much was recovered in 2023.

After another year of businesses fleeing areas like Union Square in San Francisco that were once highly desirable retail districts, the governor announced $267 million in grants to 55 communities in September to fund prosecutors and law enforcement efforts to curb crime.

But some said the governor’s retrospective was cherry-picked, omitting some key issues.

Republican Congressional candidate David Giglio said the lack of comment from the governor about the state’s $68 billion budget deficit was Orwellian, quoting from the book “1984” in response to Mr. Newsom’s video.

Others critical of the governor’s message noted the high level of homelessness in California—accounting for about one-third of the national homeless population and spiking by about 6 percent over the last year, according to recent Census Bureau statistics.

Homelessness remains a priority for the state, with hundreds of millions of dollars spent on creating temporary shelters, building affordable housing, and the cleanup and removal of encampments.

Seeking to address substance abuse and homeless issues, a package of mental health bills introduced by the Legislature and signed by the governor this past year is slated for the March 2024 primary ballot. Known as Proposition 1, the measure, if approved by voters, would create a $6.38 billion bond to fund treatment facilities and behavioral health beds.

The governor’s wife also brought attention to women’s issues, education, and childhood opportunities in the retrospective, including “reproductive freedom,” and closing the “pay gap” for women, and increasing access to school meals and mental health services for children.

“[W]e’re creating a state where all women, children, and families can thrive,” she said.

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