Republican State Senator Jim Nielsen: Newsom’s budget is encouraging, Trump’s FEMA tweet is not helpful

Written by Amy Ta, produced by Sarah Sweeney

California Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled his budget Thursday. In it, he is proposing $7 billion in new spending, most of which would go toward one-time investments in education and health care improvements. He’s also promising to put more than $13 billion toward rainy day savings and paying down debts.

In an interview with Press Play, Republican California State Senator Jim Nielsen says Newsom’s budget is encouraging, and that the new governor took great command of a complicated area that most people never figure out.

“When you're talking about putting these extra dollars into these long term expenditures for things like the pensions, that's encouraging. When you talk about CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) reform…that was really encouraging to me,” he says.

He also says that he was encouraged that Newsom talked about the DMV. “But there are other troubled agencies. And that gives me confidence that he's going to want to focus on other agencies in-depth, and do something about them to correct their errant ways.”

Although Nielsen is concerned that Newsom might be overspending -- pointing to the $7 billion, he suggests he’s optimistic. “When he talked about other areas, and how he wanted to apply our spending dollars, then I'm a little more hopeful that he will be more restrained than the legislators have been, as Governor Brown was too.”

Nielsen didn’t support Newsom in his gubernatorial campaign, opposing his push for universal medical care, which he worries could cost as much as the state budget.

The state senator is also wary about Newsom’s push for Medi-Cal for young adults who are undocumented immigrants. “We need to take care of the California citizens first,” Nielsen says.

Nielsen represents California’s 4th District, which includes Paradise. The town was recently devastated by the Camp Fire.

Press Play asked him to respond to President Trump’s tweet threatening to pull FEMA money from California over its forest management practices.

“You don't make that kind of a threat to people's lives. They've lost everything… I hope he'd get back on a more constructive track. And he had been because he helped to just declare the national disaster. And he had his agency secretaries out here two or three times. That was all good. Now where that tweet came from, I don't know. But let's just say it was not helpful,” says Nielsen.