ESCONDIDO — Republican Assemblywoman Marie Waldron responded to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first State of the State Speech on Feb. 12 in Sacramento, saying she was in agreement with several of the issues Newsom discussed.
Waldron, minority party leader, represents California State Assembly 75th District, which includes San Marcos and Escondido.
Waldron also noted that Assembly Republicans will keep a close eye on Newsom as the promises in his speech materialize into substantive legislative and regulatory proposals.
“California has a lot going for it and we heard that in the governor’s speech,” Waldron said. “So, there was a lot to like in the speech. We believe in cutting the red tape that holds up housing, an increase in MediCal reimbursement rates, something we’ve been advocating for for a long time. And his speech also gave details about ramping up the fight against homelessness and mental illness, all big issues.”
Waldron, a former Escondido City Councilwoman who still maintains an office in the city, also praised Newsom’s announcement during the speech to nix the high-speed railway proposal which would have connected San Francisco and Los Angeles. Instead, Newsom will proceed with a shorter route running from Bakersfield to Merced.
“Well, the reality check has come in because high-speed rail has been a boondoggle for a long time,” Waldron said. “You know, he’s looking at a segment that they can run efficiently as an economic development route. However, we want to see how it pencils out because the original project was based around the ridership that would’ve come out of San Francisco, the Bay Area and possibly L.A. So, I don’t know how it will pencil out without those ridership levels.”
Waldron said that Republicans will “continue to hold the project accountable and ensure that it meets its transparency standards,” as well.
Climate change, too, made an appearance in Newsom’s speech, mostly via the lens of ongoing bankruptcy negotiations between the state and the utility company PG&E.
Waldron said, depending on the details of legislative and regulatory proposals, Republican legislators can potentially get behind some of Newsom’s climate-related proposals.
“I think certainly that Republicans can get behind ideas that cause may cause new innovation, but not at the expense of people and jobs. We only look for that balance,” Waldron said. “You know, we’re all for healthy forests and quality, clean air and we look forward to continuing working with him. Of course … we would need to see the details … and hope to be at the table, as well.”
Beyond the State of the State, Waldron also said she has observed the new coalition seated on the Escondido City Council with interest, though the day-to-day grind of policymaking in Sacramento has kept her from following along closely.
She says she will have many public policy issues on her plate at the State Capitol in the coming weeks and months which impact 75th District constituents.
“We’re working on a lot of issues, including the health care issue (which) is big. Increasing the MediCal reimbursement which the governor touched on are big issues that we’ve been advocating on for long time to increase,” Waldron said. “Republicans are also for the idea of loan forgiveness for physicians, as well as nurses, if they go to work in a rural area. That will help us get more physicians into areas currently underserved.”
Steve Horn is a San Diego, CA-based reporter covering Escondido and San Marcos. He works in a full-time capacity for The Real News Network, an online broadcast news ouetlet, covering climate change. He has worked as a staff investigative reporter for the publications Prison Legal News and Criminal Legal News and as an investigative reporter for the climate news website DeSmog.com.
A native of Wisconsin and graduate of University of Wisconsin, Steve is a competitive distance runner, with a personal best time in the marathon of 2:43:04 and nine marathons under his belt. He also has served on the film screening committee for the San Diego International Film Festival.