In his first public appearance in more than a week, Gov. Gavin Newsom touted the trajectory of California’s economic recovery Tuesday during a discussion at the 2021 California Economic Summit in Monterey.
Newsom argued that the state’s 21 percent growth in gross domestic product over the last five years, even with the COVID-19 pandemic, has outpaced that of entire countries like Germany, Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom – let alone other states.
“In the last 18 months, (Texas) grew at a third of the rate of the state of California,” Newsom said. “(California had) better economic and health outcomes than Florida, Texas, Indiana and the U.S. since the pandemic. It’s just remarkable how obsessed some are with trying to trip California up … when we still dominate.”
The governor has pointed to the state’s revenue growth for much of the year as evidence that California is propping up economic recovery for the country at large.
In the spring of 2020, the state was facing a budget deficit of roughly $54 billion in the early throes of the pandemic.
That deficit turned into a roughly $75 billion surplus by May of this year, which Newsom used to both send out stimulus checks to some state residents and spread out funding for priorities like education, housing programs and climate support.
“This year we put $4 billion of our budget surplus for electric vehicles in the state,” Newsom said. The federal government’s ($1.2 trillion) infrastructure plan … is $384 million over five years for electric vehicles.
“Our state investments are profound and need to maintain in terms of their prominence and we can’t just look to Washington, D.C., to solve all these problems,” he went on to say.
Newsom used the conference to explain his uncharacteristic lack of public events over the last 11 days, which happened to follow his COVID-19 booster vaccination and spurred speculation that he may have had some kind of adverse reaction.
Originally slated to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, Newsom said his children staged “an intervention” prior to the climate summit that would have had him miss Halloween.
Newsom ultimately canceled the trip to Scotland, with Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis attending in his stead, and said he spent last week preparing his budget proposal for the coming fiscal year and working on port issues, expanding COVID-19 vaccination and planning for a winter surge in cases.
Newsom also, as he has in the past, used the state’s improved economic standing to push back on critics who argue the state’s business and tax policies are prodding executives to flee the state for more favorable conditions in states like Texas and Florida, both of which Newsom has urged to “eat your heart out.”
At that same time, Newsom said on Tuesday that getting through the coming months of the pandemic, both broadly and economically, will require fewer barbs across political divides as cases begin to tick up in some of the country’s most vaccinated states like California and Vermont.
“We’ll get through it,” he said, “but it’s going to require all of us, I think (to have) a little bit more discipline of focus, a little less finger pointing, a little less jawing back and forth, a little less focus on the differences.”
A short while later, Newsom ended his discussion by touching on both topics again, but with a slightly more curt tone.
“We’ll get through the next seven, eight weeks. We’ll be stronger on the other side, our economy will continue to dominate,” he said. “And mark my words, eat your heart out Texas … and especially Florida, because California continues to dominate in every category.”