This Thursday Gavin Newsom will appear on Fox News for a debate with Ron DeSantis, to make his case that California is a “model for the nation.” Here are 10 suggested questions for Newsom:
California Exodus: You have called the California Exodus a “Fox News myth.” Yet official population figures, as documented by your own Department of Finance, the Census Bureau, and news sources like the LA Times, show that California is losing people faster than any state in the country. The latest Census numbers show 700,000 more people moved out than moved in the last two years. This is especially notable because for more than a century, between 1900 and 2019, California’s population grew every year. Yet in the three years since, during your time as Governor, it has declined every year; for each of those years, California has led the nation in one-way U-Haul rentals. In 2019, the number of Californians moving to Florida was 24 percent greater than the number of Floridians moving to California; by 2022, it was 77 percent greater. What does it say about your performance as Governor that so many of your constituents are leaving the state?
COVID: In April of 2020, you welcomed the arrival of COVID-19 as an “opportunity” for a “new progressive era.” Three and a half years later, it is clear that California fared worse than any state. California had the longest school shutdowns and most sweeping business closures out of all 50 states, yet a study in the Lancet found it had one of the highest standardized COVID death rates as well. With the evidence so clear, you recently acknowledged “we would’ve done everything differently” and said “we didn’t know what we didn’t know.” Yet how is it that all 49 other governors knew better?
Homelessness: California has spent $20 billion on homelessness the last five years as the problem has gotten worse: Half of all unsheltered homeless in the whole country now live in California. In 2004, upon becoming Mayor of San Francisco, you announced a 10-year plan to get all chronically homeless off the streets. Yet 14 years later, in 2018, you walked through San Francisco and declared the problem had “never been worse.” In 2020, you devoted your entire State of the State address to homelessness, calling homelessness in California a “disgrace.” Yet over the next three years, homelessness in the state increased 15 times faster than the country as a whole. You yourself said that Los Angeles looks like a “a third-world country.” You also acknowledged that Californians are “wondering where the heck all their tax dollars are going.” Can you give them an answer?
Economy: Over the last few years, you have repeatedly claimed California is “roaring back” and “leading the nation’s economic recovery.” You’ve claimed California’s economy “continues to outpace other states.” In a recent Fox News interview, you claimed the state’s economy is booming. Yet California currently has the second highest unemployment of any state; last year, it ranked 50 out of the 50 states in personal income growth; and it has the nation’s highest real poverty rate. If this is a “boom,” what would a bust look like?
Education: You have talked a great deal about “book bans” in other states. Yet you’ve hardly spoken at all about literacy in your own state. Currently, California has the lowest literacy rate in the country. There are 800 California schools where 75 percent of students do not read at grade level. California’s most recent eight grade reading scores are the worst of any state measured; fourth grade scores are the third worst of any state. Why are you so much more concerned about what kids are reading in other states than about kids in your own state not being able to read at all?
Gas Prices: California has the highest gas prices in the nation. The average price statewide is fully $1.75 above the national average; currently, Californians pay $1.89 more per gallon than Floridians. You’ve blamed high gas prices on oil companies “ripping you off.” Yet why are they “ripping off” people in California so much more than Florida or any other state? Furthermore, why is California consistently ranked as having among the worst roads in the country when the state gas tax is the highest in the country? And why has the price tag for California’s “high-speed” rail, which you have heavily funded, grown to a staggering $128 billion while there’s still nothing to show for it after a decade and a half?
Water: You recently signed legislation to “permanently ban” watering grass at California businesses and you have imposed major drought restrictions for farmers, industry, and residential users throughout your governorship; Californians have been told to shorten their showers and stop watering their lawns. Yet earlier this year, following record storms, 20,000 cubic feet of water was released into the ocean per second from Folsom Dam because there’s no place to store it. In fact, the state has not built a major water storage project in decades despite voters passing bonds demanding it. Why do you subject your citizens to rationing and cutbacks when so much water gets wasted?
Vaccine Mandate: On October 1, 2021, you announced that California was going to be the “first state in the nation” to impose a student vaccine mandate for COVID-19. It applied to all grade levels, public and private schools alike, with no exceptions for religion or personal belief. You were the first governor to announce such a mandate, and you wound up being the only governor. At the beginning of 2023, you formally withdrew the mandate without it ever going into effect. Even the WHO now says “COVID vaccines are not needed for healthy kids and teens.” Why did you propose such a sweeping restriction on the rights of parents, without any basis in evidence, when every other political leader in America knew better?
Immigration: You recently claimed California has invested $1 billion to “secure our border.” Yet you have championed California’s status as a “Sanctuary State,” you have signed legislation providing Medicaid coverage to undocumented immigrants, and you even signed a law closing ICE detention facilities (it was overturned by the 9th Circuit as unconstitutional). Do these policies “secure our border,” in your view?
Crime: New FBI data shows violent crime in California increased 13 percent the last few years as it’s gone down across the country. California’s cities have seen an epidemic of retail theft; in San Francisco, a string of high-profile business closures has resulted from the lawlessness of the city. In Los Angeles, police have advised residents not to go outdoors wearing jewelry. In 2022, the number of reported vehicle thefts per capita was 250 percent higher in California than in Florida. You have supported Prop. 47 and several policies that reduce consequences for criminal conduct and release serious offenders from prison early. Do you believe these policies bear any connection to the state’s crime problem?
*BONUS: You have proclaimed that “the future happens in CA first.” You have spoken about what your state can “teach the other 49.” You have called California a “model for the nation.” Why should any state, let alone the country, copy the policies that have caused California to be the most popular in America to leave?
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