Dem leaders seem on board as Newsom proposes gas money for Californians

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Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to put money in Californians’ pockets to help them pay for the skyrocketing price of gas.

That was the main takeaway from his State of the State speech Tuesday night, which came on the heels of President Joe Biden announcing a U.S. ban on imports of Russian oil and the Golden State’s average gas price hurtling to a new record of $5.44 per gallon — a whopping 10-cent increase over the previous high set just one day before.

Details about the proposed rebate — the only new policy proposal in the governor’s 18-minute speech — were scarce Tuesday night, though Newsom administration officials said relief would likely total in the billions of dollars and be available to California drivers with cars registered in the state, including undocumented immigrants.

However, Newsom’s proposal is unlikely to eliminate conflict in the state Legislature over competing ideas to help Californians hurting at the pump.

Another possible source of contention illuminated by Newsom’s State of the State speech: California’s oil and gas policies.

Other key takeaways from Newsom’s State of the State:

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The coronavirus bottom line: As of Monday, California had 8,414,669 confirmed cases (+0.03% from previous day) and 85,854 deaths (+0.01% from previous day), according to state data. CalMatters is also tracking coronavirus hospitalizations by county.

California has administered 71,969,579 vaccine doses, and 74% of eligible Californians are fully vaccinated.

Other stories you should know

1. Lawmakers debate Prop. 47

Although Newsom largely avoided discussing rising crime rates in his State of the State speech, it was a big topic for state lawmakers and local elected officials on Tuesday:

2. Money for mental health staff

Aspiring mental health clinicians who commit to working for at least two years in high-need school districts or youth-serving community organizations would receive state-funded grants of $25,000 to help them pursue professional degrees under a bill unveiled Tuesday by state Sen. Mike McGuire, a Healdsburg Democrat. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said it could help California reach his goal of filling 10,000 new school counselor positions as campuses and students continue to grapple with the effects of the pandemic.

But that isn’t the only challenge facing California schools: Many are also confronting steep declines in student enrollment, prompting fears of a “colossal” loss of dollars and campus closures. Oakland Unified School District recently approved plans to close or shrink more than a dozen schools in the next two years, and Los Angeles Unified — which has seen a 40% drop in students in the last 20 years — is also contemplating closing or merging an unspecified number of campuses, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Dem leaders seem on board as Newsom proposes gas money for Californians

CalMatters commentary

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: Newsom’s new mental health proposal should be fully vetted before enactment, not just stuffed into a budget trailer bill in the dead of night.

Restore salmon runs before it’s too late: State regulators must do everything they can to make rivers downstream of Central Valley dams cold enough for salmon to survive, argues John McManus, president of the Golden State Salmon Association.

Transforming the Sepulveda Basin: A new study radically reimagines the San Fernando Valley basin as a park with the flow and feel of New York’s Central Park, writes Diana Weynand, chair of the San Fernando Valley Climate Reality Chapter.

Other things worth your time

California union files for restraining order to remove suspended president from headquarters. // Sacramento Bee

President of California state attorney, judge union resigns. // Sacramento Bee

Sheriff candidate alleges Villanueva’s radio show violates election rules. // Los Angeles Times

Police Commissioner John Hamasaki, a fierce critic of law enforcement, will step down next month. // San Francisco Chronicle

Brother of slain Sacramento officer to run for Placer sheriff. // Sacramento Bee

‘Our office is in crisis’: Public defenders pen plea to reduce workload. // LAist

Santa Clara County relaxes controversial booster mandate for high-risk workers. // Mercury News

California lawmakers call for controlling court construction. // Courthouse News

By carving out projects from California environmental law, the state has created ‘Swiss cheese CEQA.’ // San Francisco Chronicle

Death and dysfunction in Vallejo’s COVID housing for the homeless. // Vallejo Sun

San Francisco’s first tiny home village for homeless people opens. At $15,000 a pop, city says it’s cost-effective. // San Francisco Chronicle

Is an international crime operation targeting the Bay Area’s wealthiest cities with ‘burglary tourism’? // San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco police officer found not guilty of assault and battery charges in landmark use-of-force trial. // San Francisco Chronicle

Four sheriff’s deputies faulted in San Diego County jail death. // San Diego Union-Tribune

Detainees with severe mental health conditions claim mistreatment by Otay Mesa psychologist. // San Diego Union-Tribune

Amazon partners with Northern California colleges to provide employees free tuition. // ABC 10

To make bitcoin legal tender in California, bitcoiners may have to rewrite Constitution. // Blockworks

Los Angeles sues Monsanto over toxic PCBs in waterways. // Los Angeles Times

Legacy of pollution still haunts Dominguez Channel. // Los Angeles Times

Someday soon a car could power your California home, say PG&E and General Motors. // San Francisco Chronicle

‘It’s more than tacos’: Inside LA’s first Mexican food museum. // The Guardian

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