Gov. Gavin Newsom hit the road last week – forgoing a traditional State of the State Address and instead embarking on a statewide tour to offer insights on his upcoming policy priorities. The tour featured four stops – Sacramento, San Quentin, Downey and San Diego.
The Governor’s Office has indicated a formal letter from Gov. Newsom to lawmakers is forthcoming, since California’s governors are constitutionally required to report to the Legislature on the state of the state.
Gov. Newsom announced the release of $1 billion in funding for local jurisdictions to address homelessness and the use of the California National Guard to deliver 1,200 small home units to Los Angeles, San Diego County, San Jose and Sacramento. The announcement came as the Newsom Administration and some local jurisdictions sparred over housing and homelessness reduction targets.
Speaking from California’s oldest prison, Gov. Newsom outlined a new $20 million budget request to “reimagine and repurpose” the San Quentin State Prison to emphasize rehabilitation and reduce recidivism. According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, two-thirds of people incarcerated in California return to prison within three years of their release. Newsom indicated the prison will be renamed as the San Quentin Rehabilitation Center and aimed to have a facility overhaul plan in place by 2025.
Gov. Newsom highlighted that CalRx, the state’s prescription drug affordability initiative, has secured a contract with a drug manufacturer to make insulin available in the state at $30 per vial – bringing the price of insulin down by 90 percent – with more contracts to come. The state intends to begin manufacturing its own insulin later this year and seek federal FDA approval in early 2024 ahead of distribution. In his remarks, Gov. Newsom also eyed making other drugs more readily available, starting with opioid overdose treatment Naloxone to address the state’s Fentanyl crisis.
Gov. Newsom proposed a 2024 ballot initiative to expand the number of treatment beds available for those experiencing mental illness, substance abuse disorders and homelessness. The $3 billion-$5 billion bond would fund the construction of new facilities across California and reform the state’s Mental Health Services Act, which currently funds many of the services offered by counties.