For 170 straight years, California’s population grew. Last year, we’ve just learned, it shrank by 182,000 people. Congratulations to Gavin Newsom on making history.

For Newsom, dubious history-making has become routine. Yesterday, he rolled out the “largest economic recovery package in state history,” demanding $100 billion for his “California Comeback Plan.”

Other states, of course, don’t need a comeback plan. They’ve been “back” for some time. Florida, which ended all COVID restrictions and banned vaccine passports, continues to vastly outperform California by any measure: education, the economy, and public health.

As the shiniest object in his “recovery” package, Newsom is dangling $600 checks. Politico’s headline summed it up: “Newsom wants to hand out cash before California recall election.”

It’s the classic playbook of corrupt regimes: massively overtax people, squander the proceeds through graft, and return small sums as a “gift” at opportune times. Even Gray Davis’ top operative says Newsom is “playing Santa Clause.”

But what kind of a “recovery” does Newsom have in mind, anyway? He forecasts 8.5 percent unemployment for this entire year and says jobs in California won’t return to pre-COVID levels until 2025. That’s apparently his definition of “roaring back.”

Even as some businesses and schools now “open,” the reality is Help Wanted signs and Zoom in a Room. For Newsom, such malaise is the new normal; he sees this as the beginning, not the end, of a deepening cycle of dependence and control.

But that’s simply not in our character. I still believe in the promise of California. I believe the essential dynamism, independence, and daring of this state will overcome the endemic cronyism, incompetence, and erring of this governor.

In fact, I believe Newsom will soon be leaving office after the shortest tenure of any California Governor since the 1800s. At least he can say he made history one last time.

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Kevin Kiley is a Republican California Legislator fighting back against the Supermajority and Special Interests at the State Capitol. Sign up for updates to be part of our growing movement, and join other Californians of patriotism, decency, and common sense who want nothing more than to save our state.