California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks in Los Angeles on Nov. 10, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
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 statement
. “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 affecting 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 also enacted new price-gouging regulations on the industry, intended to keep prices low at the pump.
A video accompanying the statement takes a month-by-month glance at the past year—from atmospheric rivers in January 2023 that led to more than 1,400 rescues to retail theft and fentanyl interdiction in December 2023.
‘Dreamers and Doers’
Highlighting what he described as the state’s qualities of tolerance and intellectual capital, California Gov. Gavin Newsom released another video
on Dec. 27 calling 2023 a year of progress.
“[We’re] giving shape to the future, molding the character of the nation,” Mr. Newsom said on the nearly two-minute-long video—interspersed with clips of historic and modern scenes of political rallies and life in the Golden State—posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Because at the end of the day, we must all triumph together.”
The governor said the state is unique for many reasons, including serving as a leader in venture capital investments and business startups.
Accomplishments made to expand rights for all residents are cited as significant achievements—with hundreds of thousands of students receiving debt-free college and health care for illegal immigrants singled out by Mr. Newsom.
“More than any people, in any place, California has bridged the historical expanse between freedom for some and freedom for all,” he said. “That’s what we do best.”
Citing what he said are shared dreams and ambitions, the governor said the concept of personal freedom is paramount to Californians.
“We’re a state of dreamers and doers, no doubt bound by our live-and-let-live embrace of personal freedom,” Mr. Newsom said.
Others across the country aren’t so inclined, he suggested.
“There are still forces in America that want to take this nation backward—selling regression as progress, oppression as freedom,” Mr. Newsom said as the video cut to a shot of the Capitol building in Austin, Texas, with the Lone Star flag waving, while another shot showed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis with a crowd of supporters. “But California offers a reason for hope.”
Replies to the governor’s post are largely critical, with one saying mismanagement is plaguing California and another asking, “Is this an ad for illegal immigrants?”
Crime, Homelessness, and Drug Abuse
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 California 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. However, he didn’t provide in the retrospective how much was recovered in 2023.
After another year of businesses fleeing areas such as 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 past 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,” closing the “pay gap” for women, and increasing access to school meals and mental health services for children.
“We’re creating a state where all women, children, and families can thrive,” she said.