Newsom Continues Building Trust by Making Valley Priorities His Own

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

For Immediate Release: February 12, 2019
Contact: Adam Capper
Phone: (916) 319-2021


Newsom Continues Building Trust by Making Valley Priorities His Own


(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) applauded Governor Newsom’s first State of the State address today as the Governor detailed plans to boost the economy and quality of life in the San Joaquin Valley.

“The Valley has a justified history of distrust towards the state’s priorities,” said Gray. “As the former mayor of San Francisco, it is easy to pigeonhole the new Governor as another big city politician out of touch with the unique issues of rural and inland California. After today I think a lot of folks are rethinking their skepticism. We don’t need to agree on the solution to every problem, but it is refreshing that Governor Newsom’s vision for the state actually includes the San Joaquin Valley.”

In his first address to a Joint Convention of the California State Legislature, Governor Newsom detailed his plans to create a more affordable housing market, improve the health and welfare of underserved communities, and make significant investments in the most impoverished areas of the state. The Governor also highlighted numerous ongoing fights over water and announced he would not reappoint Felicia Marcus to the State Water Resources Control Board.

“If there was one message Governor Newsom heard loud and clear during his frequent visits to the San Joaquin Valley it was that Felicia Marcus had to go,” continued Gray. “As a former NRDC employee, there are many who believe she never stopped working for the interest group. Her reputation and inability to build trust were the most significant barriers to making progress on voluntary Bay-Delta Plan settlements, the Delta tunnels, and addressing the critical issue of providing clean, safe, and affordable drinking water in every community in California. I sincerely thank Governor Newsom for his bold leadership on water, and I look forward to the start of fresh conversations with the new chair of the State Water Board.”

Governor Newsom gave detail on his plans to fix the numerous construction delays which have plagued High-Speed Rail by creating more financial transparency, appointing a new Chair of the High-Speed Rail Commission, and getting a Merced to Bakersfield line up and running.

“Sacramento has failed to recognize the contributions of the San Joaquin Valley for years,” said Gray. “It was not that long ago that the former leader of the State Senate questioned the value of investing billions of dollars out in the ‘tumbleweeds’. Governor Newsom clearly sees how vital an opportunity High-Speed Rail is for the Valley and has recommitted that the Merced rail line will be included up front and not pushed off to later phases.”

The Governor spoke extensively about the need to address homelessness and affordable housing issues including reforming CEQA.

“California is an incredibly expensive state for construction, and the jungle of red tape known as CEQA is our primary cost driver,” said Gray. “I am encouraged by the Governor’s desire to finally cut through the bureaucracy and litigation that stops the construction of housing projects, homeless shelters, and other critically needed housing infrastructure.”

The Governor also identified his budget goal to boost reimbursement rates for patients who receive health insurance through Medi-Cal.

“Medi-Cal is no longer just a safety net program,” said Gray. “It is the primary form of health insurance for a third of our state’s population and approximately 50% of people in Merced and Stanislaus counties. Higher Medi-Cal rates have been a longstanding priority of mine, and I applaud the Governor for confronting this issue head-on.”

The Governor finished his address by highlighting the need to find the right balance of pursuing California’s ambitious climate change goals without the costs falling disproportionately on the poor.

“Clean air, clean water, and climate change are critical issues to California’s future,” said Gray. “But to this point, our policies have ignored the impact on blue-collar communities which are the first to lose jobs and the last to receive the benefits. If we cannot get this right, no one else will follow California’s example. Finding the right balance for those least able to afford the costs of climate change should have been our first priority a long time ago.”