Today the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst sent lawmakers an urgent warning: Gavin Newsom’s budget is a power grab. The letter lists 13 separate ways the Governor is trying to “sideline legislative authority” and enlarge his own powers.
$600 million to buy hotels for the homeless. $130 million to remake Medi-Cal. Millions to buy a new State Park and millions more to close a Veterans’ Home. Unchecked power to regulate businesses and shut down courts. The Governor is also angling for total control over billions he hopes to get from Congress, the letter warns.
At the same time, Gov. Newsom just signed Executive Order N-67-20, bypassing the Legislature to change several more laws for November’s election. This is his 41st Executive Order since declaring a State of Emergency. Perhaps hoping no one would notice, he posted the 40th Order at 8 PM last Friday night – a sweeping edict that changes several more laws and extends previous orders.
The Governor’s Executive Orders have now changed well over 200 California laws with the stroke of a pen. The decrees are not limited to the Health Code, spanning 17 different California codes: Civil, Civil Procedure, Businesses and Professions, Corporations, Elections, Family, Financial, Government, Labor, Penal, Public Resources, Revenue and Taxation, Unemployment Insurance, Vehicle, and Welfare and Institutions.
Yet the Governor, in another affront to the constitutional rules of engagement, refuses to even discuss limits on his extraordinary powers. When I introduced ACR 196 to restore checks and balances, he falsely accused me of “prematurely declaring an end to this ongoing crisis.”
The Legislature did fight back against one power grab, at least: rejecting Gov. Newsom’s unconstitutional scheme to raid $131 million in protected Gas Tax revenue. We must now heed the warning of the Legislative Analyst and pass ACR 196 to cut off the Governor’s emergency powers.
Restoring a balance of power will defend our institution and the people of California against executive overreach. More than that, it will advance public health and economic recovery by including the distinctive institutional capacity of the Legislature in our government’s response.