Things won’t get better in California as long as Gavin Newsom remains governor

California has deep and persistent problems that are made worse by bad policy choices, too frequently blamed on the conduct of state residents instead of the failing policies.

No state official has more power to remedy the situation than the governor. Powerful agencies that exert control over water, electricity, air quality, housing development and transportation, just to cite some examples, are run by appointees of the governor and carry out the policies that can solve, or cause, problems.

Under Gov. Gavin Newsom, the state has failed to build the water storage projects that voters agreed to fund back in 2014.

California has teetered on the edge of rolling blackouts and relied on costly electricity imports to hide the consistent inadequacy of solar and wind energy.

Air quality regulators have imposed fees for greenhouse gas emissions that add a hidden tax to the cost of gasoline, diesel fuel, electricity and manufacturing, raising the cost of living.

Housing policy has discouraged home-building in new communities out of exaggerated fear that commuters will worsen climate change.

Taxes collected and promised for the purpose of road maintenance have been diverted by executive order to perceived climate-friendlier projects such as bike lanes.

Since March 2020, California has been under the governor’s declared state of emergency over COVID-19, which is now preventing a return to normal life and constitutional government.

Other states ended their COVID emergencies long ago, and California law requires emergencies to be ended at the earliest date that conditions warrant. Only on Monday did Newsom finally say the state of emergency would end — but in 2023.

Businesses continue to leave the state, taking high-paying jobs with them. Residents are fleeing, too, as California saw its population decline for the first time in state history under Newsom’s watch.

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And of course, California’s education system has effectively been captured by the California Teachers Association, to the detriment of California’s students, who have suffered immense learning loss throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before 2020, California’s K-12 students lagged the rest of the country and most failed to meet the state’s own standards. Regrettably, so long as Newsom is governor, it’s difficult to imagine things turning around given his fidelity to the teachers unions.

Polls show that Newsom will win re-election in November and it won’t be close.  This inevitability comes down to pure arithmetic. Nearly half of California voters are registered Democrats. There are about as many Republicans as there are people registered as no party preference, with the latter usually breaking in favor of Democrats.

Sen. Brian Dahle, the Republican challenger, can only do so much in this context.

Californians hoping for reform at the state level will have to hope the influx of new members in the state Legislature bring with them some new, better ideas than what we have had to deal with to date.

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