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Newsom talks Ukraine, high gas prices at State of the State address

Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered the annual State of the State address on Tuesday, highlighting state actions and investments over the last year that he said represents “the California way.”

After two years of the pandemic, Newsom spoke in front of an in-person audience of lawmakers and reporters from a Sacramento government building. He emphasized the importance of maintaining democracy stateside after witnessing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We can’t take democracy for granted,” Newsom said. “Authoritarian and illiberal impulses aren’t just rising overseas. They’ve been echoing here at home for some time.”

“We are plagued by the agents of a national anger machine fueling division, weaponizing grievances, powerful forces and loud voices stoking fear and seeking to divide us, weakening the institutions of our democracy… Foundationally, this is a threat we must all face together and prove there’s a better way – a California way forward.”

Newsom reiterated a commitment to climate policy, but noted that “no one is naive” to the high gas prices California and the nation is experiencing and the “geopolitical uncertainty” that’s fueling them.

To address this, Newsom announced that he will be introducing a proposal to address rising gas prices and put money back in the pockets of consumers. According to a spokesperson from the Governor’s Office, the proposal will take the form of a tax rebate.

The governor emphasized a commitment to “fighting polluters, not bolstering them,” highlighting a recent multi-million dollar investment awarded to a company in the Imperial Valley to tap one of the world’s largest lithium reserves and advance a domestic supply chain.

“It can’t just be about oil supply – daily life still demands too much fossil fuel,” Newsom said. “That too has to change, underscoring the importance of accelerating California’s leadership in clean technology. This is not just a national security and environmental justice imperative – clean energy is this generation’s greatest economic opportunity.”

The governor boasted about California’s economy over the past year, noting that the state has added over a million jobs in the last 12 months. He touted efforts to help the state’s middle class, including $12 billion in rebates, raising the minimum wage and increasing paid sick leave during the pandemic.

Newsom also highlighted “bolder steps” taken to protect residents during the last year of the pandemic. He said that because of the the state’s measures, California saw fewer deaths than other large states, like Texas and Florida.

“Our lockdowns, distressing as they were, saved lives,” Newsom said. “Our mask mandates saved lives.”

Newsom also discussed investments in fighting homelessness over the last year, highlighting the state’s recent investments to help individuals get off the streets. Since the start of the pandemic, Newsom said the state has helped 58,000 find shelter.

The governor noted that these investments not only help address homelessness, but also help to increase public safety. Newsom noted commitments to improving public safety by funding local law enforcement and prosecutors to investigate crimes, working with Attorney General Rob Bonta to get illegal weapons off the streets and “doubling down” on the root causes of crime by funding violence prevention programs.

“Our approach is to be neither indifferent to the realities of the present day nor revert to the heavy handed policies that have marked the failures of the past,” Newsom said.

Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, released a statement shortly after Newsom’s address, saying “the state of our state is a mess under a one-man rule.” Wilk highlighted the high cost of living, a rise in homicides and unemployment rate while calling Newsom’s speech “Fantasyland, not reality.”

“There can be no more excuses,” Wilk said. “California families, communities, and students deserve better.”

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon offered praise for Newsom’s address shortly after his remarks concluded, vowing to work as a team with the governor and Legislature to “make progress on health, on education, on jobs and on housing on behalf of everyone in the state.”

“We know what the problems are,” Rendon tweeted. “They are enormous challenges, beginning with climate change, but one of the things that makes California great is that we are not afraid to tackle them.”

This article was originally posted on Newsom talks Ukraine, high gas prices at State of the State address

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