“I just don’t think the world demands timidity,” Gavin Newsom told CALmatters last year. Back then, becoming California's governor was just his (highly likely) dream.

On the campaign trail, the Democratic former mayor of San Francisco offered a big vision for California: the creation of a single-payer health care system, a “Marshall Plan” for housing, universal preschool and more. Now that he's taken the reins of a state government that historically has been resistant to sweeping change, his promises and his worldview are making for a mighty long to-do list.

So how’s he doing so far? We'll be keeping track here.

Childcare and K-12 Education
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Make transit funding conditional on locals meeting housing goals


Today Newsom announced a plan for the state to start withholding certain road repair funds from cities not meeting their housing goals in 2023.

  • The state sets housing production goals on a local and regional basis
  • Most local governments do not meet those goals
  • A lack of housing supply is at the heart of California's affordability crisis
  • City and county governments are highly dependent on the state for transportation funding to pave roads, build bridges and finance public transit

College savings accounts for all kindergarteners

Childcare and K-12 Education

Proposed budget includes plan to spend $50 million on pilot projects with nonprofits

  • In 2010, San Francisco launched a program to set up a college savings account for every kindergartner in the city. Each account included $50 in "seed money" from the city.
  • From the campaign trail: "I want to do that in all 1000+ school districts in this state."

Expand neo-natal care

Childcare and K-12 Education

Proposed budget includes modest increases in state spending to fund home visits and health screenings for low-income pregnant women

  • From the campaign trail: "If you don’t have a pre-natal plan, you shouldn’t be running for Governor."

Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit

Economy and Budget

Budget proposal more than doubles funding to the credit, boosting support to families with children and allowing those with slightly higher incomes to take advantage of the program. Changes name to "Working Families Tax Credit"

  • Modeled on federal credit, a program that effectively gives money to lowest earners
  • Unlike traditional cash-grant programs, the size of the credit increases with income up to a certain point so as not to disincentivize work
  • Maximum credit: $2,879 for family with three or more kids, $232 for childless adult

Increase Low Income Housing Tax Credit Funding to $500 million


Proposed budget includes a five-fold increase in funding for the credit with $300 million for the current program and $200 million for the production of units for slightly higher-income renters

  • Modeled on the federal program, this awards tax write-offs to developers who build affordable housing
  • Units built under current program mainly focused on renters earning under 60 percent of the median income in the area.

Increase transparency and accountability for education money

Childcare and K-12 Education

New plans to spend over $10 million on a "longitudinal data system" to track student performance from pre-school to the workforce

  • In 2012, Gov. Brown set up new funding program for K-12 schools. The basic formula: more money for districts with more low-income students, foster youth, and English learners.
  • Since then, the achievement gap between high and low-need students hasn't budged much.
  • Key question: How is the money being spent?

Expand family leave

Childcare and K-12 Education

Announced plans in budget to fund 6-months of paid family leave, funding TBD

  • In California, workers can take paid family leave, but only for six weeks and at half pay
  • From the campaign trail: "Our early childhood strategy must also include expanded family leave"

Entice more local governments to set aside property taxes for housing development


Proposed budget removes 55 percent local voter approval before Enhanced Infrastructure Finance Districts can issue bonds

  • Note on Redevelopment: Allowed local governments to skim property tax revenue to fund affordable housing and other infrastructure, but was killed in 2011
  • Enhanced Infrastructure Finance Districts offer similar approach, but can't touch money reserved for public education and need 55 percent voter approval to borrow money
  • Only three have been set up across the state

Make first two years of community college free

Higher Education

New budget proposal pushes for a tuition-free second year for first-time, full-time students

  • California law makes the first year of community college free
  • Without aid, students pay $46 per unit each semester or $504 for a full-time student taking the minimum number of credits

Make preschool available to all 4-year-olds

Childcare and K-12 Education

Proposed budget includes nearly $125 million in additional funding to not-for-profit childcare programs and $500 million in one-time spending to improve and expand infrastructure at childcare centers.

  • An estamated 31 percent of California of 4-year-olds who qualify for state-funded pre-school and other early childcare programs are not enrolled for lack of funding
  • Early childhood education and childcare were a major focus of gubernatorial campaign

Push for more exemptions to California environmental law for "socially desirable" housing projects


Announced plans in proposed budget to allow for "streamlined" environmental review process for homeless shelters and supportive housing projects.

  • From the campaign trail: "If you can create [California Environmental Quality Act] waivers to expedite stadium projects…we sure as hell should be able to do that for" Californians experiencing homelessness.
  • The California Environmental Quality Act sets out the process for reviewing the environmental impact of new projects
  • Critics of the act claim interest groups like organized labor and NIMBYs exploit the environmental review process to hold up projects in order to extract concessions or kill projects they don't like

Create a single payer health care program


On his first day in office, Newsom sent a letter to the Trump administration requesting permission to redirect federal healthcare dollars to a single state agency. The waiver isn't likely to be granted by this administration and, in the grand scheme of things, it's a very small step. But it's something.

  • Goal: Set up a state-run insurance program that will cover every Californian.
  • This was a major talking point throughout campaign (especially when running against other Democrats)
  • Will be legally, administratively and fiscally very challenging.

Begin a “conversation” about “modernizing” the state tax code

Economy and Budget

No progress yet.

  • State tax revenue is very dependent on the most well-off, which makes it very volitile
  • Only goods (not services) are subject to sales taxes
  • Key question: Should commercial properties get same property tax breaks as homeowners?
  • Note to self: "You've got to bring folks around the table. I just don't think we have a choice."

Appoint a Secretary of Homelessness


No progress yet.

  • There are an estimated 130,000 sleeping in shelters, the couches of loved ones or on the street on any given night.
  • From the campaign trail: "We need an interagency council on homelessness. It’s a cross-sector issue. We need intentionality."

"Advance" a ban on fracking


No progress yet.

  • From the campaign trail: "You've got my word on that, we will advance that ban!"
  • Fracking is relatively limited in California compared to other oil and gas producing states

End the use of private prisons

Justice and Law

No progress yet.

  • From the campaign trail: "We will end the outrage of private prisons once and for all."
  • The state of California contracts with five private facilties
  • The state is under court order to keep its prison population below 137.5 percent of total facility capacity.
  • In 2017, Gov. Brown vetoed a bill that would have phased out the use of out-of-state private prisons, arguing that that capacity is needed to comply with the court order

Create a state bank

Economy and Budget

No progress yet.

  • From the campaign trail: "We must break Wall Street’s chokehold on state finance and develop our own state bank"
  • Pros: would allow the state to channel funds towards socially desirably projects like financial aid and alternative energy
  • Cons: banking is complicated and probably expensive