Gavin Newsom brought his campaign for governor to a Salida union hall on Tuesday evening, with messages about health care, homelessness, taxes and other topics.
The Democratic lieutenant governor said he would work to increase home construction in Califormia and assure that its public universities are affordable. He supports high-speed rail, with caveats, and wants undocumented immigrants to feel safe.
Newsom spoke to about 200 people at the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 442. Most of them are not part of the union but do support the Democratic Party in the 2018 election.
Newsom said he is close to releasing details on a health care proposal for California modeled on what San Francisco adopted when he was mayor. He said it would not be the “single-payer” system sought by some advocates, but rather a mix of public and private coverage.
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“It lowers the cost to everybody,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do and the economically smart thing to do.”
The rail system will start with a connection between Los Angeles and the Bay Area by way of the Merced area. Newsom urged a stronger effort at adding private sources to the funding and assurances that promised branches to Sacramento and San Diego will be built.
Newsom led a recent poll with 22 percent of likely voters in the June primary, followed by 17 percent for Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa, former mayor of Los Angeles and Assembly speaker. It was released last month by the Institute for Government Studies at UC Berkeley.
Newsom noted that about 12,000 homeless people got off the streets in San Francisco through an effort that combined housing with help for mental illness and other problems.
He said California has a huge shortage of affordable housing and needs to rethink the development fees and land-use rules that hinder construction.
The candidate said tax reform should include a new levy on services, since they are a growing part of the economy along with taxable goods.
Newsom supports San Francisco’s status as a “sanctuary city” for undocumented immigrants, as long as they do not commit crimes. This has built trust that leads to more schooling, vaccinations and other services that these residents might have hesitated to seek, he said.
As lieutenant governor, Newsom sits on the governing boards for both of the state’s university systems. He said he has urged a boost in public funding rather than the tuition increases that have burdened students.
Newsom said the state’s new gasoline tax increase will pay for paving projects that reduce wear and tear on vehicles. He noted that some of the proceeds will help with Modesto and Merced extensions of the Altamont Corridor Express commute trains to the Bay Area.
Newsom got a question about enforcing disabled-access rules from Adam Webber, who gets around in a wheelchair and is a student at California State University, Stanislaus. The candidate said he is co-owner of several restaurants and has complied with the standards.
“He’s proven that you can be a businessman and make money and still care about human rights,” Webber said afterward.
The audience also included mental health advocate Yvette McShan of Modesto, who said she was impressed with Newsom’s stance on the homeless.
“I believe in him,” she said. “I feel that if he tells me something about homelessness, he’s going to do something about it.”
John Holland: 209-578-2385