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Tom Del Beccaro: Newsom must go – here's what California needs from its next governor

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There is an earthquake underway in California. Instead, of building fallings, however, a politician who thought he was destined for the presidency is teetering on edge.

Yes, California is headed to a recall election this fall of its Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom. The reasons why, as I have written before, are many including a failed response to COVID and jobs and businesses leaving the state at a record pace.

As of this writing, over 1.6 million people, Republicans, independents and Democrats, have signed a petition to recall the governor. As many as 2 million are expected to sign before the March 17th deadline, which would guarantee a recall election this fall. (To trigger a recall election for the governor those leading the effort need 12% of the total voter turnout from the last election.) 

In addition to that, there has been an unexpected benefit to this process. For the first time in years, there is a policy debate underway on what is best for the state. 

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Usually, in this deep blue state, Democrats running for state office are anointed by a union-dominated hierarchical process.  Policy debates don’t occur because, despite being such a large state beset with problems, the California press doesn’t seriously cover races and Democratic Party candidates rarely debate their opponents.

The Newsom recall effort has changed that. Two Newsom-backed propositions went down to defeat last November. The governor lost his push for a huge tax increase and cashless bail. Uber also gained back its ability to do business in California over Newsom’s objections to the company’s ballot proposition.

Going forward California needs answers to COVID, its energy and water problems, poverty problems, wildfire problems, business and job flight and more.  

Here are my five top suggestions. In almost every case, doing the opposite of what Newsom has been doing is a great idea.

1. Energy. Californians are currently being subjected to rolling blackouts. Television stations literally run commercials in the evening telling their citizens not to use energy at night because solar energy only can be collected during the day.

In 2019, even Big Tech warned Newsom that they would leave the state if California couldn’t deliver reliable and affordable electricity. 

Part of the problem is that the largest utility in the State, PG&E, has been mismanaged and is beset with debt related to wildfire damage and deaths, and, along with the state government, has caved to environmentalists who don’t want to allow foliage to be trimmed away from power lines.

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This has contributed to catastrophic wildfires along with that lack of sensible forest management. Newsom’s response hasn’t been to lead, but, instead, to blame and further hinder PG&E and to point to global warming.

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The next California governor should (a) strike the proper balance between safety environmental concerns by requiring urgent foliage trimming, (b) lead a best practices consortium of utility experts from around the country to reform PG&E, and (c) recognize that solar can only supplement current energy production — it cannot replace it.

2. Water. Democrats in this state are pushing a 50 gallon a day limit for residents.  That wouldn’t even allow for family to have a front yard. California also can’t deliver a consistent supply of water to farmers and industry. Meanwhile, it allows trillions of gallons of water to flow from the mountains to the Pacific Ocean for questionable and unrealistic “environmental” goals.

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A good governor would cooperate with residents and business to increase the supply of water, including getting all previously approved water storage/reservoirs actually built and championing three key water policies: (a) collecting every drop of water, including runoff from buildings and freeways, (b) recycling water, and (c) ocean water desalination. Those policies are the success story of how the island nation of Singapore became water self-sufficient despite not having a natural water source.

3. Job losses and out-migration. California is hemorrhaging jobs and businesses to low-tax states. Jobs are going to where they are welcome, including places like Texas, Florida and Tennessee.  

Brilliant minds like demographer Joel Kotkin have characterized California as fast becoming a place for the rich, workers with union jobs and the poor. The middle class is being run out of the state.

Newsom‘s response to these problems has not only included poor water and energy policies, but also tax and regulatory increases. He has done this despite the fact that approximately 145,000 people, of the 36 million that live here, pay one-half of all income taxes. Of late, many, including Elon Musk, the billionaire businessman behind Tesla and SpaceX have chosen to leave and take their businesses and jobs elsewhere.

That trend must be reversed by the Golden State’s next governor.

New ideas are born every day in California. To stop those ideas from becoming success stories in Texas, where new businesses are often assigned facilitators to help them start up, the next governor should sit down with industry and tech leaders to move California into this century with a job-friendly environment.

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4. Veto unnecessary bills. Each year, California Democrats place hundreds of bills on the governor’s desk. All but a few are truly necessary and they contribute trillions in government debt. That debt is one reason why large businesses are leaving California – they don’t want to be stuck with the tax bill. The next governor of California should pause all unnecessary spending and veto those bills.

5. COVID. As the state has grappled with the coronavirus pandemic the governor has dictated from Sacramento and has used one-size-fits-all policies. It has not gone well over the past year.

The next governor should allow the rural counties to implement policies that benefit their regions instead of being lumped in with large cities.

Further, small business should be treated the same as big business with regard to restrictions.

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Finally, there should greater cooperation between the private sector and government on the vaccine rollout.

Overall, California needs a governor who cooperates with the state’s citizens not dictates to them. The biggest change of all in leadership should be in the form of a governor that looks to help Californians not use them as a political stepping stone.

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