In the first months of his new position, California Governor Gavin Newsom has sent shockwaves through the state. In his 2019 budget proposal and “State of the State” address, the former Lieutenant Governor of California and Mayor of San Francisco brought his signature penchant for challenging outdated methods of government and proposing innovative solutions to keep California ahead of the nation. The Governor has made it clear he wants to use tech to improve government itself, as well as enact broader changes to California’s business and technology landscape.
With many new ideas coming from the Governor’s office, sf.citi curated a list of five tech-relevant policy proposals and executive orders introduced by Governor Newsom during his first two months in office (wow!). It includes proposals that could likely affect tech companies and employees in San Francisco—including sf.citi members—as well as policies that attempt to use technology to improve government services. Take a look below.
Six Months Paid Parental Leave
Almost immediately after taking office, Governor Newsom proposed extending paid parental leave to six months. California currently grants six weeks of partially paid leave to new parents, while just 16% of employers in the United States offer paid parental leave.
Many sf.citi members, we would like to note, have already bucked this national trend. Companies like Airbnb, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Pinterest, and Twitter offer at least four months of paid leave to new mothers (and, in many cases, either parent). Many of these sf.citi members also provide additional amenities for new parents, including subsidized child care, flexible work arrangements, and on-site lactation rooms.
For Californians—tech or otherwise—not working at a company like those listed above, Governor Newsom’s proposal would extend partially paid leave to six months, which could be split between two caretakers (not necessarily parents) as they see fit. The biggest barrier standing between the Governor and his ambitious parental leave plan is…drumroll…money. California finances its current six-week leave program through a 1% payroll tax, and any increase would require two-thirds support from the state Legislature. In the meantime, the Governor may tap into the existing leave fund’s surplus to gradually extend parental leave.
Innovation Procurement Sprints
Home to Silicon Valley, California is shockingly behind the times when it comes to government services. Governor Newsom is determined to change that by spearheading a “new, flexible approach” to procurement. He signed an executive order that would make the procurement process less about defining a specific product and more about crowdsourcing solutions to a state problem. In other words, Newsom is replacing the traditional Request for Proposals (RFP) with a Request for Innovative Ideas (RFI2).
Tasked with guiding the new procurement process, the California Department of General Services (DGS) and the California Department of Technology (CDT) will begin by leading a series of Innovation Procurement Sprints. These Procurement Sprints will crowdsource ideas from state agencies, the private sector, academic experts, and others to resolve a problem statement. The first of these Procurement Sprints will attempt to address California wildfires.
Payouts for Personal Data Through Data Dividends
Governor Newsom is proud to lead the state that has given rise to “technology companies determined to change the world”. He, nonetheless, wants to share the wealth tech generates from consumer data. To make this happen, he’s tasked his team with developing a “Data Dividend for Californians” proposal. Though the exact nature of this suggested legislation remains unclear, the proposal would explore ways to compensate California residents for providing personal data to tech companies.
Voluntary Tech Funding for Housing
California’s housing crisis is a top priority for Governor Newsom, and he is calling on the tech community to help the state solve it. The Governor wants corporations to make a “voluntary commitment” to match the $500 million in public money he’s set aside for middle-income housing. “More details to come,” promised Governor Newsom, but the general idea is that Silicon Valley companies would offer developers low-interest loans to build middle-income housing throughout the Bay Area.
Credit Cards at the DMV
In his proposed 2019 budget, Governor Newsom allocated $50+ million toward the creation of an “Office of Digital Innovation.” Among its other responsibilities, the Office of Digital Innovation will be charged with modernizing California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) services. One example? Accepting credit cards as payment. Governor Newsom acknowledged this rather absurd gap in service, saying, “It’s a governor in 2019 in California saying that we’re going to accept credit cards in 2019 at the Department of Motor Vehicles. That is in the ‘you can’t make that up’ file.”
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Considering we are less than two months into Governor Newsom’s tenure, we at sf.citi think it safe to say that this is just the start of what is to come for tech in San Francisco and California. Rest assured, we will keep you up-to-date on all the latest developments. To make sure you don’t miss a beat, subscribe to our newsletter here.