WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: From taking on Big Oil to tackling big challenges — from mental health care to housing — California enacted ambitious efforts to improve the safety, health, and well-being of all Californians in 2023.
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WHAT GOVERNOR GAVIN NEWSOM SAID: “From taking on global problems to finding community-based solutions, this year California delivered on critical action to make people’s lives better, safer, healthier, and happier. As the country continues to recover and grow under the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration, California is closing 2023 as a national leader in putting people first, safeguarding freedoms, and creating economic opportunity.”
WHAT FIRST PARTNER JENNIFER SIEBEL NEWSOM SAID: “In 2023, California led the nation in bolstering the rights and opportunities of women and in ensuring children have the best start in life. From securing new partnerships to support our work to safeguard reproductive freedom and close the pay gap, to increasing students’ access to free, fresh, and nutritious school meals and behavioral health services, we’re creating a state where all women, children, and families can thrive.”
✅ TRANSFORMING MENTAL HEALTH CARE: Governor Newsom and legislative leaders led a historic transformation of the state’s behavioral health care system — putting it on the ballot for voters in March 2024.
✅ INVESTING IN CARE: California invested nearly $1.5 billion to continue to build out the state’s mental health and substance use disorder treatment and housing sites, continued to expand the state’s workforce, and submitted an innovative waiver to leverage federal funding.
✅ EMPOWERING YOUTH: First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom announced a $100 million anti-stigma campaign by the California Department of Public Health aimed at all California youth, especially those most at risk like LGBTQ+ and Indigenous youth, building on the Governor’s Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health — which launched additional resources this year.
✅ ENSURING ACCOUNTABILITY: California continued to hold bad actors accountable, including a historic $200 million settlement with Kaiser for unacceptable wait times for access to behavioral health services.
✅ IMPROVING HEALTH OUTCOMES: The Governor’s Advisory Council on Physical Fitness and Mental Well-being launched the Move Your Body, Calm Your Mind campaign — and through the Outdoors for All initiative, more than 50,000 passes were downloaded by families.
✅ MAKING COMMUNITIES SAFER: Governor Newsom announced a new effort to transform San Quentin State Prison into a nation-leading facility — and a scalable model — focused on improving public safety through rehabilitation. The Governor convened a multidisciplinary group of experts to submit recommendations that can help build and inform the California Model.
✅ FIGHTING HATE: Addressing a rise of hate across the nation, California launched the CA v Hate initiative and hotline to empower diverse communities and fight discrimination and hate.
✅ ADDRESSING THE FENTANYL CRISIS: Cracking down on fentanyl trafficking, Governor Newsom deployed additional resources and a 50% increase in California National Guard personnel at our border’s ports of entry to fight drug trafficking, and launched a new partnership in San Francisco to hold fentanyl traffickers accountable.
✅ CRACKING DOWN ON ORGANIZED CRIME: California awarded over $267 million to 55 cities and counties to combat and increase prosecutions of organized retail crime in communities across the state.
✅ STOPPING GUN VIOLENCE: California passed multiple new gun safety laws to keep more Californians safe, became the first state in America to call for a Constitutional Convention on the Right to Safety, and launched GunSafety.CA.Gov — a website for the public to access life-saving resources.
✅ LEADING EDGE IN WILDFIRE RESPONSE: Investments and innovation in wildfire resilience reduced the wildfire year’s most catastrophic impacts to California’s communities, in a year where the state was recognized for its world-leading innovation in wildfire response.
✅ FIXING THE 10: After an arsonist ignited a major fire under the I-10 Freeway in Los Angeles, Governor Newsom led an all-hands response that resulted in the major economic artery re-opening to traffic in 8 days — months ahead of original estimates.
✅ HIGH SPEED RAIL: California was awarded more than $6 billion by the Biden-Harris Administration to build high-speed rail throughout California, investing in the whole system — San Francisco, Los Angeles and the Central Valley, creating connectivity north, south and with our neighbors to the east. This investment was the single largest grant for the program — made possible by President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
✅ CONNECTING CALIFORNIANS: Thanks to investments by Governor Newsom and the California legislature, the state continues to make progress in connecting all Californians — leading the nation in affordable internet.
BUILDING CALIFORNIA’S FUTURE
✅ ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: With Generative Artificial Intelligence’s (GenAI) wide-ranging potential for Californians and the state’s economy, Governor Newsom earlier this year signed an executive order to study the use cases and risks of GenAI technology throughout the state and to develop a deliberate and responsible process for evaluation and deployment of GenAI within state government. Last month, the Administration released the first report from this Executive Order.
✅ CUTTING RED TAPE: California passed critical legislation to streamline projects — cutting red tape to build green infrastructure — helping meet our state’s aggressive climate goals and creating hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs.
✅ TRAINING THE NEXT GENERATION OF WORKERS: California has exceeded 160,000 apprenticeships — on track to reach the goal of 500,000 by 2029 — creating strong “earn and learn” career pathways, especially for historically excluded workers, and meeting local economic needs.
✅ CREATING GOOD-PAYING JOBS: California created thousands of new jobs welcomed back Disney investments after the company pulled the plug on $1 billion development in Florida, and continued to invest in California’s innovation economy — securing up to $1.2 billion in federal funding to develop a national hub for clean hydrogen production, a project that will create tens of thousands of jobs, and investing in the development of Lithium Valley as a new global hub for electric battery production.
✅ ENERGY OF THE FUTURE: California is set to become a national hydrogen hub thanks to up to $1.2 billion in investments by the Department of Energy. This crucial funding will help accelerate innovation and lead to the development and deployment of clean, renewable hydrogen — critical to cutting pollution and expanding the clean energy economy statewide.
✅ NEW PARTNERSHIPS: Governor Newsom built new climate partnerships across the globe, including a trip to China where he laid the foundation for future collaboration and cooperation. At the state level, public-private partnerships were pivotal to building out green infrastructure across California — from battery storage and clean energy production projects to safeguarding waterways and producing good paying blue-collar jobs.
✅ SUING BIG OIL AND HOLDING THEM ACCOUNTABLE: Governor Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta announced a historic lawsuit against Big Oil — taking some of the world’s largest oil companies to court for their decades of deception fueling the climate crisis. And with the state’s new anti-gas price gouging law, the Governor called a special session and championed legislation that established the Division of Petroleum Market Oversight to investigate price gouging and hold Big Oil accountable.
✅ BOOSTING WATER SUPPLIES: California continued the critical work of preparing for a hotter, drier future by advancing more projects to help boost the state’s water supply system.
✅ IMPROVING AFFORDABILITY: The Office of Health Care Affordability (OHCA) launched, holding its first meetings. The Board of the OHCA is charged with providing input and recommendations to help make health care more accessible, affordable, equitable and high-quality for all Californians.
✅ $30 INSULIN: Governor Newsom, during the Tour of the State, announced the CalRx Initiative would be bringing $30 insulin to market.
✅ EXPANDING ACCESS: Thanks to investments made this year, low-income Californians — of all ages and regardless of immigration status – will be able to access Medi-Cal starting in 2024. Older adults and people with disabilities will be able to keep their savings and still qualify for Medi-Cal coverage — another first-in-the-nation expansion. And the reimbursement rate for providers providing Medi-Cal services will be higher, supporting our health care workers like never before.
✅ MASTER PLAN TO ADDRESS FENTANYL CRISIS: Governor Newsom released his Master Plan for Tackling the Opioid & Fentanyl Crisis, which includes the naloxone distribution project, steps to create our own low-cost naloxone supply, and the comprehensive resource: Opioids.CA.Gov.
✅ LAUNCHING CARE COURT: Governor Newsom’s CARE Court program launched in 8 counties across the state, to ensure local governments are held accountable in helping people in need of care for untreated psychosis, including housing. The other counties will launch their CARE Court system by the end of 2024.
✅ CLEAN CALIFORNIA: California is providing $1.2 billion in grants for local governments to clean up blighted areas and create projects that help revive public spaces. Additionally, Governor Newsom continues to find ways to hold local governments accountable like revising their Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention plans to deliver better results.
✅ ENCAMPMENTS TO HOUSING: California has cleared over 5,600 encampments and provided $750 million for encampment resolution grants to move people to housing.
✅ PROVIDING RE-HOUSING: Through Homekey, California has funded the creation of over 14,600 housing units to assist people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
FREEDOM TO SUCCEED
✅ BANNING BOOK BANS: Governor Newsom and state leaders fought back against book bans and censorship, signed a new law banning inappropriate censorship in schools, and highlighted the state’s Family Agenda to promote freedom in education.
✅ EXPANDING COMMUNITY SCHOOLS: The California State Board of Education, with the support of Governor Newsom, unanimously approved a $750.5 million investment — the largest allocation of funds yet under California’s nation-leading initiative — to transform thousands of schools into a community school. These innovative sites provide students and their families the resources and support they need to thrive, including counseling, nutrition programs, tutoring, social services, and health care and mental health care services.
✅ WORKFORCE OF TOMORROW: Governor Newsom launched a new career education effort to prepare all of California’s diverse students and adults, especially those historically disconnected or disadvantaged, for the workforce of tomorrow and directed additional steps to reduce employment barriers for state jobs — including college degree requirements unnecessary to job duties.
✅ SPREADING FREEDOM: Governor Newsom launched the Reproductive Freedom Alliance, which includes 22 governors fighting to protect and advance reproductive health care across the country. Leveraging the Alliance, Governor Newsom sent a joint letter with 13 other Governors to pharmacies across the country asking them to clarify their plans to dispense mifepristone as well as other actions they would take to safeguard reproductive health care — resulting in several independent pharmacies stepping in to provide the drug.
✅ SAFEGUARDING ACCESS: In the wake of the legal action against medication abortion brought by extreme politicians, Governor Newsom created a stockpile within California to safeguard access and provided additional state resources to continue to make care affordable and accessible.
✅ STRENGTHENING PROTECTIONS: As hostile attacks continue, California invested in protecting health care workers and health care centers — both physical and cyber security — and signed new laws strengthening protections for providers and people traveling from other states, establishing first-in-the-nation protections for electronic reproductive health records,, and expanding the reproductive health care workforce.