Gov. Gavin Newsom -- apparently sensing that skyrocketing inflation rates might top rising COVID rates on many Californians' list of concerns -- pivoted from vaccines to the soaring cost of living while speaking Wednesday at a Bakersfield clinic after receiving his second booster shot.
Newsom: "We are proposing an $18.1 billion additional package of relief ... to address the pressures, the cost pressures, the inflationary pressures, that everybody's feeling. ... We recognize the world we're living in, the anxiety and stress so many people are facing. But this state is better positioned than any other state to address those issues head-on, and we look forward to making real on these promises ... by finalizing budget negotiations with the Legislature and getting those checks out."
Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk of Lancaster tweeted: "To use Gavin Newsom-style lingo, CA Democrats have left CA's most vulnerable in petrol purgatory by dangling the promise of relief. Republicans have a plan to provide it NOW" by suspending the gas excise tax.
The cost of living was also a major focal point of a Wednesday event hosted by Californians Against Retail and Residential Theft, a new group composed largely of business associations that aims to educate lawmakers and the public about the "growing wave of theft" it says has been enabled by Proposition 47.
Amid high-profile smash-and-grab-robberies and rising voter concerns about crime, Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike introduced a variety of bills to toughen the 2014 voter-approved ballot measure that reduced penalties for certain theft and drug offenses -- to no avail.
David Nelson, director of public policy for the California Asian Chamber of Commerce, told me: "The overarching point, it's true -- it is a political calculation. And I think that's why we continue to face headwinds within the Capitol. But ... look, it is an election year and we are socializing these issues from a political perspective with candidates."
One particularly powerful argument, the group seemed to suggest: the impact on everyday Californians' pocketbooks.
Richard Wardwell, president of Superior Grocers and member of the California Grocers Association: "As a business, if I'm making $100 a day in profit and I lose $100 in theft, I now have zero profit. So in order to make a profit, I have to raise retail prices. ... So you have the rising cost of fuel, you have the rising cost of labor, you have the rising cost of theft, the rising cost of insurance ... If an employee approaches a person stealing and gets hurt, then the worker's comp component goes into play and that's a significant impact to the business as well. So all of that relates back to the cost on the shelf and how people can afford to buy it."