Californians are gloomy about the economy, housing prices and homelessness

Good morning and welcome to the A.M. Alert!


As the legislators gets to work in the 2023-24 session, Californians want them to focus on economic issues and homelessness, according to the latest survey from the Public Policy Institute of California.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of those polled by the PPIC said that jobs, the economy and inflation was their top issue for lawmakers to tackle, while a fifth (20%) said homelessness was their priority.

“Solid majorities believe that Governor Newsom and the legislature will be able to work together and accomplish a lot in the next year,” PPIC’s Mark Baldassare said in a statement.

Speaking of the Legislature, one of its biggest tasks this year will be to pass a budget with a $22.5 billion (or more) shortfall.

More than a third of Californians (34%) think the budget is a big problem, though 60% approve of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed spending plan. As you might imagine, Democrats (79%) and independents (61%) were more likely than Republicans (27%) to approve of the governor’s proposals.

That includes broad support (70%) for avoiding use of the state’s “Rainy Day Fund,” as well as more moderate support (66%) for Newsom’s proposed expansion of transitional kindergarten, universal school meals, the state’s homelessness strategy and increased health care access.

However, less than half of Californians (48%) support the governor’s plan to cut workforce training, transportation, housing programs and climate change efforts.

Californians are largely pessimistic about the chances of their family’s younger generation to buy a home in their part of California; 60% said that they are very concerned about that.

Californians are equally gloomy about the state’s economic forecast over the next year, with 60% saying the state is now in a recession, 30% concerned that someone in their family will lose their job in the next 12 months, and 45% worried about being able to pay their rent or mortgage.

That dismal outlook is especially strong among Californians making less than $40,000 a year, with 79% saying price increases have caused hardship, 37% concerned about job loss in their family, and 72% concerned about not being able to pay for housing.

A strong majority (70%) of Californians believe homelessness is a big problem in their part of the state; in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, it’s 74%. Likewise, 70% of Californians believe that there are more homeless people in their local community than there was a year ago.

Finally, Californians by and large approve of the jobs that Gov. Newsom and President Joe Biden are doing.

Newsom enjoys a 58% approval rating, a slight increase from a year ago; the governor’s job rating has been above 50% since the beginning of 2020.

Biden’s approval rating is 53%.

Californians are less enamored of the State Legislature (49% approval), the U.S. Supreme Court (37%) or House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (28%).


“To erase the history of Black Americans and the fight for LGBTQ+ equality is to erase the history of our country.”

- California Federation of Teachers President Jeff Freitas, following the College Board’s decision to exclude topics such as Black Lives Matter, slavery reparations and queer life from the AP African American Studies curriculum.

Best of The Bee:

  • A California Democrat is the first LGBTQ immigrant in Congress. Now he’s ready to work, via Gillian Brassil.

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom and other high-ranking California Democrats on Wednesday revived a plan to strengthen the state’s concealed carry gun law. The move marks the second attempt at shoring up California regulations after a June 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision struck down key provisions of the state’s law, via Maggie Angst and Lindsey Holden.

  • California sent out its final batch of inflation relief payments, or the Middle Class Tax Refund, earlier in January — but new confusion ensues as we enter tax season. Will the Internal Revenue Service tax the money as income? Via Hanh Truong.

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Rei Onishi, an attorney for the Governor’s Office, to serve as a Sacramento Superior Court judge. He has been deputy legal affairs secretary since 2017 under Newsom and former Gov. Jerry Brown, via Rosalio Ahumada.

  • More than a month after academic workers secured a historic labor deal with the University of California, administrators have yet to announce how the system will pay for it. Students and faculty fear enrollment cuts and other cost-saving measures that could harm the quality of education, via Maya Miller.