File photo of Gov. Gavin Newsom

published on November 8, 2019 - 4:44 PM
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After telling a crowd of hundreds gathered Friday at a Fresno hotel that sloughing off political rivalry and working together is needed to solve the state’s and the nation’s biggest problems, California’s governor offered some choice words Friday for U.S. President Donald Trump.

Just eight years ago, the prior governor, Jerry Brown, had inherited a $27 billion deficit, a 12.2 percent unemployment rate at the height of the Great Recession and a $37 billion-plus “wall of debt” being paid out by the state to cover the principal and dividends on outstanding state bonds that were financing our general fund deficit, Gavin Newsom told the crowd gathered in the largest meeting hall at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Fresno Convention Center for the second and final day of the two-day 2019 California Economic Summit.

“People were talking about our best days being behind us,” with some people saying that best thing for California would be to split it up into six sections, he said.

But over the past eight years, California turned things around, said Newsom, noting, “We paid 100 percent of that debt that we inherited.”

Gov. Newsom is interviewed by the media Friday. Photo by David Castellon


He added that California has had 115 consecutive months of job growth — a record — and the state also has accomplished record budget surpluses since the recession, with last year’s totaling about $21 billion, and gross domestic product growth averaging more than 40 percent over each of the past five years.

As for claims people are hot to relocate their homes and businesses out of California because of its high tax, housing and real estate costs, along with claims of overregulation, Newsom countered that people still want to come here, noting that in this decade, California is on track to outperform the previous decade in venture capital investments.

And 51 percent of investments in the nation came into California this decade, compared to 47% in the previous one, Newsom told the crowd.

This year, state legislators are prioritizing paying down unsecured obligations in California’s employee pension fund — at $9 billion over three years.

“Eat your heart out Donald Trump,” the Democratic governor called out to the Republican president who has been a critic of Newsom.

“Find me a red state, let alone a blue state, that uses surplus money to pay its pension obligations.”

But it was after his just under 21-minute speech that Newsom offered harsher words for Trump, whose criticisms of California included last week a tweet threatening to reduce federal funding for fighting wildfires in the state unless California can adequately revamp its fire-prevention strategies.

“Every year, as the fire’s rage & California burns, it is the same thing-and then he comes to the Federal Government for $$$ help. No more. Get your act together Governor. You don’t see close to the level of burn in other states…”

When asked if it was appropriate to engage in a war of words with the president over his twitter postings, the governor told reporters, “I’m responding to, well, these [written] assaults” by the president.

“The president has threatened the people of this state — American citizens — to take away emergency grant money,” despite his having publicly complimented the White House’s management of emergency dollars to fight the numerous wildfires raging in various parts of California and not playing politics with them.

“And in return, the president then threatens all of our federal funding, so with respect, I believe the answer to that question lies in the mirror each morning when the president wakes up and shaves.”

Newsom added that Trump has set the tenor of the dispute, “and his childishness is legendary, and it’s an embarrassment to this country and those that support that kind of behavior. I think we have to question if that’s the kind of model we want for our children and grandchildren.”

Within the initial hours after Newsom made the comments, there were no rebuttal tweets on the president’s twitter page and no indication he was aware of what Newsom said in Fresno.

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