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Interview: Gavin Newsom Reflects On First 100 Days As California Governor, Sanctuary Policy, Wildfire Liability And Taxes

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

CapRadio Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler interviews California Gov. Gavin Newsom about his first 100 days in office.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s response to President Trump’s recent and repeated claims that the federal government should place Central American migrants seeking asylum in “sanctuary cities”?

It’s already happening.

“That’s what they’re doing,” Newsom told CapRadio during an interview in his office at the state Capitol on Monday. “They’re sending folks to street corners and Greyhound bus stations in a sanctuary state, disproportionately in our state. Legal asylum seekers.”

The governor also says Trump is “intentionally making things worse” by pulling federal funding from the Central American countries where the migrants are leaving.

“That’s gonna increase the migrant crisis — his unwillingness to address the issue of due process and support the adjudication of claims at the border. His unwillingness to staff and fund those efforts exacerbates the issue,” Newsom said. “And in many ways, he’s inviting a crisis of his own making.”

Newsom says California will take in its “fair share,” and “continue to defend and embrace sanctuary policies.”

His comments came during an interview to mark his 100th day as governor of California. In that time, he's started to leave an imprint on the state, including major actions on the death penalty, high-speed rail and how the state responds to wildfires.

The following is an excerpt from an exclusive interview with CapRadio's Ben Adler: a look back at what he's accomplished since taking office and how his vision for the state is shaping up so far.

Interview Highlights

On his proudest achievement from his first 100 days in office

I think at the end of the day the first hundred days have been shaped by two things: One is California is the most un-Trump state and the fact that we're now in 48 lawsuits with the Trump administration.

It's not what we chose but we've stood tall and we've pushed back against Trump and Trumpism. Protecting our health care framework, protecting our diversity and advancing a different narrative around immigration.

On his recent "strike team" report on wildfires and how the state should handle wildfire liability for utilities such as PG&E

I'm not bailing out PG&E. I've never argued for that. In fact [the ] report calls in the break the glass scenario municipalization. I don't know how that could be construed as a bailout.

But no, I get that. The purpose of this document was to make public the complexities of this climate change report. It's a report about — forgive me — procurement. It's about sustainable energy policy. It's a report about governance. It's not a report about PG&E. It's a report about utilities operating with the hots getting hotter and the drys getting drier.

On whether PG&E has lost the privilege to operate like a monopoly in some parts of the state

I don't know about that. I think they've they lost trust. Public trust. They've lost trust with this administration. I was very pointed. I sent a letter about 10 days ago attaching very strong opinions about their new board of directors. The one that was rumored and ultimately the one that came out I have been pointed about my expectations in terms of behavior. I said they misdirected and they've mistreated the public, I said that at the press conference.

So we've been very pointed, and to the extent that they are committed to changing their ways, we'll wait and see, but they don't have much time to prove that. And meanwhile we're moving aggressively to influence the bankruptcy proceedings and moreover broaden and influence as it relates to the larger issues of governing in this environment outside of PG&E's territory including in Southern California and substantively in the southern part of the state San Diego.

On whether Californians can afford to pay new fees to modernize the state's emergency response system and improve access to clean drinking water

I don't think we can afford not to modernize our emergency communications. The fact that for seniors, people with mobile ability impairment, the lack of access to geospatial GPS technology, the ability for first responders to get location mapping done because of our old analog system is an embarrassment, candidly.

On the issue of safe drinking water, close to million people that don't have it. There's Flint, Michigan's all across California. That's unacceptable. I don't think we can afford to live a good life in an unjust society as Aristotle said it. There's no injustice or no justice rather when people can't bathe let alone drink water and they're still paying for that water more than they are in Beverly Hills.

On whether he's preparing a more cautious May revise budget than his initial proposal in January

Yeah I am. There's some good things that have happened since January, there's some cautionary issues. I'll be with Governor Cuomo later in this week talking about the issues of state and local tax deductions. Salt. He has pointed to that as having already had an impact in New York. One could assert that in California, though I still think it's too early to tell. Our revenue is trailing but again still too early to tell. We tend to do better late, so we'll know in a few weeks. We're collecting — as I sit here with you — $1 million dollars in revenue every minute. So this is a dynamic moment in California's tax history.  

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

 Newsom 100 Days

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

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