Over the next few days, very different events will take place in downtown Sacramento.
Today, Gov. Gavin Newsom is set to march to the state Capitol with a group of ticketed supporters before being sworn into office for his second term, according to an invitation enclosed in a late December campaign email. About 1,000 people are expected to attend the inauguration, a permit approved by the California Highway Patrol shows.
It’s no accident that the event — which Newsom’s campaign team has dubbed the “March for Democracy” — is being held on the two-year anniversary of Jan. 6, 2021, when supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol.
- Newsom’s inaugural committee wrote in a statement: “This observance of the California spirit of opportunity and inclusion — ‘the California Way’ — will stand in peaceful contrast to the violent insurrection and assault on our democracy which occurred two years ago.”
The framing is similar to that of Newsom’s first inaugural speech in 2019, when California’s newly elected chief executive contrasted his style of governance with that of the Trump administration: “We will offer an alternative to the corruption and incompetence in the White House. Our government will be progressive, principled and always on the side of the people.”
- Now that Trump is out of the White House, Newsom may instead levy some criticism at one of the former president’s most loyal supporters: U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Bakersfield Republican who failed after an 11th round of voting Thursday to clinch enough support to become Speaker of the House of Representatives.
But Newsom may be facing criticism of his own. On Monday, an alliance of labor and community groups calling itself California Common Good is set to hold “street theater actions” — complete with 10-foot-tall puppets of Newsom and California billionaires — in Sacramento, San Diego and Los Angeles. (Something I learned in a Thursday article from the Los Angeles Times: Salesforce CEO and billionaire Marc Benioff is the godfather of Newsom’s eldest son.)
The event is scheduled one day before Newsom is slated to unveil his budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year — which will likely have to account for a projected $24 billion deficit that could test the state’s commitment to expanding social safety net programs.
California Common Good’s goal: For Newsom and state lawmakers to pursue “progressive revenue solutions, like an increased corporate tax, wealth tax, digital ad tax and other initiatives that tax the wealthiest individuals and industries in the state” rather than”budget cuts and austerity measures.”
- Simply maintaining current programs and funding levels isn’t enough, the group wrote: “We cannot become complacent with the promise of holding on to what we have now.”
Difficult budget negotiations are far from the only challenge facing California officials in 2023. Though the state today is expected to enjoy a brief reprieve from the fierce tempests that have walloped it almost nonstop since New Year’s Eve — causing at least six deaths, damaging critical infrastructure, destroying property and raising questions about the effectiveness of flood management and water storage systems — even more storms and flooding are expected this weekend and next week.
- Larry Schick, a meteorologist formerly with the Army Corps of Engineers, told the New York Times: “At a point, rivers don’t have time to recede. That is when the trouble starts.”
A few other Capitol updates:
- State Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins announced Thursday her appointments for the chamber’s Democratic leadership team and powerful Rules committee. She also unveiled the leaders of Senate policy committees, influential roles that help determine a bill’s chance of passage. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced his committee appointments in late December.
- Who exactly are California’s 120 state lawmakers, anyway? CalMatters has updated its handy “Glass House: California Legislator Tracker” tool to help you learn more about who represents you in Sacramento, where they fall on the political spectrum and the issues they work on. Check it out.