Sanctuary State Politics: New California Governor Takes Aim at the Trump Administration by Nicky Riordan
This series analyzes the nuanced dynamics of immigration policy and ideology across California following the state legislature adopting various protections for immigrants in late 2017 making California the first "sanctuary state."
Gavin Newsom recently became California’s 40th governor amid national attention over the government shutdown motivated by funding requests for a border wall. Newsom “immediately girded for battle with President Donald Trump while flying the banner of his party’s progressive wing.” The governor did not mention Trump by name but stated the president is “hostile to California’s values and interests” and pledged to “offer an alternative to the corruption and incompetence in the White House.”
Newsom called for a “Marshall Plan” to combat homelessness, six months of paid family leave, and fully subsidized tuition for preschools and community colleges, among other things. Defending the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from President Trump’s efforts to repeal and weaken the law is a clear priority. The governor immediately signed an executive order directing California’s Medicaid system to negotiate prescription drug prices for the state’s 13 million recipients.
Newsom called for a single payer system and proposed a statewide mandate for health insurance coverage and increased subsidies to support middle class families. The latter was in response to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which removed the individual mandate from the ACA.
Newsom also wants to expand Medi-Cal to cover immigrants in the country illegally up to age 26 to match ACA provisions for young adults. This would make California the first state to do so. This idea was first proposed in the legislature last year, but did not have the outgoing Governor’s support based on fiscal estimates. Due to ACA restrictions regarding coverage for immigrants in the country illegally, an analysis of that legislation estimated that such a policy would cost California taxpayers nearly $250 million a year. Newsom argues that the proposal is not only the “moral thing to do” but also a “fiscally conservative thing to do.”
Newsom’s policy perspectives on healthcare were “as much a rebuke to the Trump administration as it was an attempt by Newsom to make good on his campaign promise to fix a fragmented healthcare system that leaves many priced out or underinsured.” Like Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was reelected to a third term in New York, the governor of California is positioned to become a major antagonist of the Trump administration on immigration and several other issues.
Nicky Riordan (@nriordan120), Political Analyst, The Utica College Center of Public Affairs and Election Research, reporting from California