Asked to grade the success of the COVID-19 safety net he has cobbled together, Newsom said he’s “very proud of starting things from scratch.”
“We could have just walked away and never even endeavored to do something audacious, do something that no one else had ever done, do something that no else is doing,” Newsom said.
But for some, Newsom’s grandiose promises have caused disappointment. Sheila Kern, 66, of Monterey County waited for six weeks to receive restaurant meals that Newsom pledged to send to isolated seniors, only to cancel after receiving burnt pancakes from a poorly reviewed catering company. Meanwhile, she knew of seniors in Laguna Beach who received meals that “exceeded their expectations.”
For Kern, “it failed 100%” due to a lack of oversight.
Part of the problem: with the economy bustling at record-low unemployment in February, the state wasn’t ready for a disaster of this magnitude or speed.
“When the economy is good, it’s rare that states put investments into the resiliency of their social safety nets because it feels like it functions,” said Patterson of Code for America. “But then a crisis hits.”
Some good news: in the current budget deal, Newsom and legislators managed to avoid the kinds of devastating cuts to social services that marked the last recession, possibly hobbling the state’s resilience to this one.