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BY Emily Hoeven January 6, 2023
Presented by Prologis, California Water Service, American Pistachio Growers and Cal Needs Assessment

Newsom to lead anti-Jan. 6 march to Capitol

Over the next few days, very different events will take place in downtown Sacramento.

Today, Gov. Gavin Newsom is set to march to the state Capitol with a group of ticketed supporters before being sworn into office for his second term, according to an invitation enclosed in a late December campaign email. About 1,000 people are expected to attend the inauguration, a permit approved by the California Highway Patrol shows.

It’s no accident that the event — which Newsom’s campaign team has dubbed the “March for Democracy” — is being held on the two-year anniversary of Jan. 6, 2021, when supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol.

  • Newsom’s inaugural committee wrote in a statement: “This observance of the California spirit of opportunity and inclusion — ‘the California Way’ — will stand in peaceful contrast to the violent insurrection and assault on our democracy which occurred two years ago.”

The framing is similar to that of Newsom’s first inaugural speech in 2019, when California’s newly elected chief executive contrasted his style of governance with that of the Trump administration: “We will offer an alternative to the corruption and incompetence in the White House. Our government will be progressive, principled and always on the side of the people.”

But Newsom may be facing criticism of his own. On Monday, an alliance of labor and community groups calling itself California Common Good is set to hold “street theater actions” — complete with 10-foot-tall puppets of Newsom and California billionaires — in Sacramento, San Diego and Los Angeles. (Something I learned in a Thursday article from the Los Angeles Times: Salesforce CEO and billionaire Marc Benioff is the godfather of Newsom’s eldest son.)

The event is scheduled one day before Newsom is slated to unveil his budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year — which will likely have to account for a projected $24 billion deficit that could test the state’s commitment to expanding social safety net programs.

California Common Good’s goal: For Newsom and state lawmakers to pursue “progressive revenue solutions, like an increased corporate tax, wealth tax, digital ad tax and other initiatives that tax the wealthiest individuals and industries in the state” rather than”budget cuts and austerity measures.”

  • Simply maintaining current programs and funding levels isn’t enough, the group wrote: “We cannot become complacent with the promise of holding on to what we have now.”

Difficult budget negotiations are far from the only challenge facing California officials in 2023. Though the state today is expected to enjoy a brief reprieve from the fierce tempests that have walloped it almost nonstop since New Year’s Eve — causing at least six deaths, damaging critical infrastructure, destroying property and raising questions about the effectiveness of flood management and water storage systems — even more storms and flooding are expected this weekend and next week.

  • Larry Schick, a meteorologist formerly with the Army Corps of Engineers, told the New York Times: “At a point, rivers don’t have time to recede. That is when the trouble starts.”

A few other Capitol updates:

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1 A fond farewell

Emily Hoeven, center, questions Anne Marie Schubert, candidate for state attorney general, at the CalMatters offices in Sacramento in June 2022. Photo by Martin do Nascimento, CalMatters

Looking back on my first CalMatters newsletter, published on March 9, 2020, it’s astonishing to reflect on how much the state has changed over these past three years — and how so many of its fundamental challenges and debates remain the same. Three years ago, California was grappling with how to respond to the first reported cases of COVID-19 — a virus that has since infected nearly 11 million Californians and killed more than 98,000, with a current test positivity rate of 12.6%, according to state figures updated Thursday. Three years ago, a group of state lawmakers and mayors proposed allocating $2 billion annually to address homelessness — an issue that plagues California more than ever before, with the state accounting for 30% of the nation’s homeless population in 2022, new federal data shows. Three years ago, University of California graduate students went on strike, demanding the system pay them a living wage — and two weeks ago, tens of thousands of UC academic workers approved contracts with higher wages and benefits, ending a six-week strike thought to be the country’s largest-ever labor action of university employees.

It has been an immense honor to chronicle these changes, big and small, in this newsletter for the past three years, and I am so thankful to each and every one of you for making it a part of your morning routine, sharing your thoughts and feedback, and welcoming me into the California politics community. Today’s newsletter is my last — I start as a columnist and editorial writer at the San Francisco Chronicle on Jan. 23, where I will keep covering California politics and policy. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter for updates.

Please also add whatmatters@calmatters.org to your address book to ensure you keep receiving the newsletter. (If you’ve signed up for WhatMatters, you’ll automatically receive it from this new email address.) As CalMatters continues to recruit for the next newsletter writer — apply here! — my wonderful colleagues Ben Christopher and Sameea Kamal will lead newsletter coverage. Make sure to follow Ben and Sameea on Twitter as well.

2 Three reports evaluate state programs

A correctional officer closes the main gate at San Quentin State Prison on July 9, 2020. Photo by Eric Risberg, AP Photo

The nonpartisan office that advises the state Legislature on fiscal and policy issues has been on a roll lately. On Wednesday, the Legislative Analyst’s Office slammed the California Air Resources Board’s recently approved blueprint for tackling climate change, finding it had major flaws that could derail the state’s ability to meet its ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals. On Thursday, it released back-to-back reports analyzing California’s parole hearing process for state prison inmates and needed building and infrastructure upgrades at the UC and CSU systems — as well as a fact sheet on increasing state spending. Here are a few key takeaways from the three Thursday reports:

  • Parts of California’s parole hearing process could lead to inequitable outcomes. The office found that commissioners on California’s Board of Parole Hearings have “overly broad discretion” that could result in “biased decisions” on which parole candidates are released from state prison. It also found that parole candidates who rely on state-appointed attorneys have worse hearing outcomes than those with private lawyers. One recommendation: State lawmakers should raise the standard that commissioners must meet to deny parole.
  • California needs to address the growing backlog of deferred maintenance projects at UC and CSU campuses before the problem gets worse. UC estimates it has $7.3 billion worth of backlogged projects and will have $12 billion in additional needs over the next 10 years, while CSU has a backlog of $6.5 billion and expects $3.1 billion in emerging needs in the next decade. “Absent a plan to address these issues, backlogs very likely will continue to grow — leading to higher costs and greater risk of programmatic disruptions,” the report warns.
  • Total state spending as a share of the economy was largely flat from the late 1980s through 2020. Then the pandemic ushered in unprecedented state revenues and expanded federal aid, caused state spending to increase substantially. Although much of the state’s General Fund surplus money was earmarked for one-time and temporary expenses — a move lawmakers say will help bolster California’s resilience during an economic downturn — ongoing spending allocated in recent budgets will nevertheless balloon to roughly $25 billion by 2025-26, the legislative analyst found.

3 Six takeaways from the UC strike

Hundreds of UC academic workers picketed for the fifth straight week at UCLA on Dec. 14, 2022. Photo by Pablo Unzueta for CalMatters

Returning to the UC academic worker strike I mentioned earlier, what exactly did union members get in the contracts they ratified Dec. 23 with the nation’s premier public university system — and what didn’t they get? What happened to students whose grades were disrupted by the strikes? And will UC dock the pay of workers who went on strike? CalMatters’ Mikhail Zinshteyn answers those questions and more in this examination of six key takeaways from the deal.

The UC strike appears to have galvanized academic student employees at the California State University system, who are hinting they might hit the picket line in the spring if they can’t reach a contract deal with CSU. Meanwhile, CSU trustees announced Thursday they’ve finalized a “comprehensive and inclusive” search process for the next leader of the 23-campus system. Whomever they pick will inherit a system plagued with mounting sexual harassment scandals, including one that prompted last year’s resignation of former CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro.

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CalMatters Commentary


CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: Proposition 13, the landmark measure capping property taxes that California voters passed 44 years ago, is still generating legal and political skirmishes.

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Other things worth your time


Some stories may require a subscription to read

For first time, California civil rights officials file lawsuit alleging Section 8 housing discrimination. // Los Angeles Times

California ranks 3rd-worst value for renters, data shows. // Mercury News

More San Diego condo communities get clobbered by huge insurance rate hikes due to wildfire risks. // San Diego Union-Tribune

Latino families sue Pasadena schools for alleged discrimination. // Los Angeles Times

A Sacramento woman billed families thousands to find them a baby. Many say they were scammed. // Sacramento Bee

Walgreens may have overstated organized retail theft concerns, CFO says. // CNBC

Amazon layoffs to hit more than 18,000 workers, the most in recent tech wave. // Wall Street Journal

SF’s Stitch Fix to lay off 20% of salaried staff, CEO steps down. // San Francisco Chronicle

Cisco Bay Area job cuts widen with hundreds more worker layoffs. // Mercury News

In a matter of days, health care access deteriorates in Central California. // Beckers Hospital Review

Noise pollution is a health hazard — and California is beginning to do something about it. // Kaiser Health News

Southland air quality watchdog sued over refinery air pollution rule. // Daily News

How Disney’s Sierra Nevada ski resort changed environmentalism forever. // Los Angeles Times

See you next week

Tips, insight or feedback? Email emily@calmatters.org.

Follow me on Twitter: @emily_hoeven

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