By: Bo Tefu, California Black Media
Statewide — Last week, Gov. Newsom appointed former Stockton Mayor Michael D. Tubbs, who is African American, as his Special Advisor for Mobility and Opportunity. In this role, Tubbs becomes one of two African Americans on the governor’s Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) — a group Newsom has charged to help California recover from the economic downturn the coronavirus pandemic has caused.
The other Black gubernatorial advisor is Renee Bowen, an associate professor of economics at the University of California San Diego. Tubbs and Brown are serving along with 11 other experts Newsom says will help offer guidance on how to rebuild a state economy that is more sustainable and inclusive.
The CEA team will help to build political will, championing policy changes that aim to promote equitable economic opportunities and fight poverty for all Californians, according to the governor’s office.
“As we fight the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and economic insecurity, I am honored to work with the Newsom Administration to bring forward innovative solutions that will lead to inclusive economic recovery for all Californians,” said Tubbs.
On Friday, President Biden signed Congressional Democrats’ $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. The federal economic package includes $1,400 stimulus checks for individuals nationwide. In his third State of the State Address, Gov. Newsom recapped the state’s plans to support small businesses, reopen schools, promote equitable vaccine distribution, and provide state stimulus funds. The recently appointed CEA will advise California lawmakers on directing state and federal funds toward programs and investments that soften the pandemic’s economic blow.
Although the advisers are not compensated for their roles, they will leverage their areas of expertise as well as their familiarity with business and industry in California to ensure that California families “have the opportunity to not just survive but thrive,” during the pandemic, state officials said.
As a special advisor, Tubbs plans to recommend best-practices gleaned from various external stakeholders, including economic experts and business leaders to reform state policies that will benefit all Californians.
“As I always say, poverty is a choice: a policy one,” Tubbs said. “I can think of no greater calling than to build upon my work with Mayors and community leaders across our state and nation to help advance big, bold policy solutions that are rooted in economic fairness, racial equity, and recognize the dignity of all people.”
Gov. Newsom said Tubbs has proved himself as a leader who cares deeply about his community and economic fairness.
“I can think of no one more dedicated or better equipped to make recommendations to my team and help lead outreach efforts to increase opportunity and entrepreneurship to reduce poverty in California,” said Newsom.
During his time as Mayor of Stockton, Tubbs implemented the first mayor-led Universal Basic Income pilot program in the country, and he launched the Stockton Scholars, a program that helps Stockton’s youth pursue higher education.
“Tubbs expanded opportunity and hope in his hometown,” Newsom continued.
According to state officials, California experienced record-low unemployment before the pandemic — a rate of 3.9 %. Gov. Newsom plans to resolve California’s fiscal problems, strengthen the state’s economy, and drive unemployment back down from just below 10 %, according to numbers the Employment Development Department released in December.
“We need to invest for the future, adapt to a changing climate, and keep our budget balanced,” Gov. Newsom said. “This Council will keep its pulse on what’s happening in our economy while making policy recommendations to prepare us for what’s to come.”
Biden-Harris Administration’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act and vaccine expansion
The Biden-Harris Administration announced the passage $1.9 trillion in federal aid Friday, including $1,400 stimulus checks, to help people affected by the pandemic nationwide.
California legislators continue efforts to boost small businesses as well as support K-12 and higher education as they wait for directives from the federal government on how to allocate the funds.
“The American Rescue Plan will help California roar back from this pandemic,” Gov. Newsom said. “All of these pandemic responses add up to a brighter future for California.”
State officials said they plan to use the funds on equity, housing affordability, education, and infrastructure to ensure that people come out of the pandemic, “as a stronger and more inclusive California.”
In addition to stimulating the economy, the Biden-Harris Administration announced plans to increase access to coronavirus vaccines to all adults by the beginning of May this year. Newsom said President Joe Biden’s announcement indicates that “the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter,” a sign, he says, that vaccinating everyone will be a reality soon.
Despite the limited vaccine supply, Newsom says California’s distribution efforts are guided by equity.
The state has prioritized those who are most exposed and at risk of contracting the coronavirus since it is, “the right thing to do, and the fastest way to end the pandemic,” said Newsom.
California Black Media’s coverage of COVID-19 is supported by the California Health Care Foundation.