By Nancy Lindholm, President & CEO of the Oxnard Chamber
Governor Gavin Newsom addressed California's business leaders on May 23 at the 94th annual Sacramento Host Breakfast. It is a tradition that the governor is the keynote speaker for the long-standing event. This year was no different.
Governor Newsom began his remarks by explaining his entrepreneurial background. When he was fresh out of college, he lined up some investors and started a small business - a wine store in San Francisco. With its success, he turned that into 23 businesses and, at its peak, employed 1,000 people.
Newsom went on to outline his top state issues for 2019 and the coming decade:
Debt and Demographics
California is poised to pay down $34.7 million in debt that Jerry Brown inherited. This is thanks to a bustling economy and growth in the state's GDP. However, we have an aging population and that comes with many challenges to our workforce and medical services.
Energy and Climate Change
California had 16,600 wildfires in the past two years. Those fires caused the bankruptcy of PG&E. However, Newsom outlined what he called progressive and aggressive goals. "We are radically changing the way we produce and consume energy," he said. Goals include achieving 100% renewable energy by 2045 and increasing the number of electric vehicles to 4.5 million by 2030.
Governor Newsom said we are no longer an interconnected world, but an interdependent world. The future of "work" will be very different.
Newsom also commented on California's fiscal health. We have a $21.5 billion surplus this year. Unfunded pensions of $9 billion will be paid off from the general fund this year. Regarding the threat of a coming recession, the Governor remarked, "This sate is in much better fiscal shape that it has ever been."
He admitted that California is not the cheapest place to do business, but said it is the best place to do business. In the last five years, California has seen a 3.8% growth in GDP, 109 consecutive months of net job growth, and a $3 trillion annual economy.
However, Governor Newsom expressed his concern about the fact that we have become a society of "haves" and "have nots." There are more people living in poverty in California that any other state. Housing is one of the state's greatest challenges. The homeless population in California exceeds 130,000. Newsom stressed, "Homelessness happened on our watch. We own it. It can be solved. I don't think that, I know it!" He also said we have the political will to address housing affordability.
I certainly wish Governor Newsom well in accomplishing his goals. And I hope we still have a surplus when he's done!