President Trump and California Gov. Gavin Newsom have been at odds long before the latter took office in Sacramento earlier this year - lambasting each other in speeches and on social media over issues ranging from immigration to high speed rail projects.
So it probably came as a shock to many when Newsom on Monday offered rare praise of a Trump administration policy that provides tax breaks to spur investment in low-income areas.
During a speech at Stanford University, Newsom said the Opportunity Zones program will not only help boost California’s already enormous economy, but would also help provide funds to deal with state’s housing crisis and would promote energy investment to help the state reach its climate change goals.
The Opportunity Zones program is part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and looks to bring down the capital gains taxes for investors in real estate and business in low income neighborhoods. The program would permit investors to pay no capital gains taxes – which can run as high as 20 percent - after holding on to an investment for 10 years.
Newsom acknowledged during his speech that is was an unusual move for a Democrat – let alone one with a public history of sparring with the president – to support a program heralded by the current White House administration.
“We all heard about these opportunity zones. We were a bit perplexed,” Newsom said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “A lot of us, at least on my side of the political aisle, said, ‘That actually sounds like a good idea. Wait a second, it came out of which administration? I’m still trying to get my arms around it. Maybe it’s too good of an idea.’”
California is currently in the midst of a major housing crisis – spurred on by limits on the amount of money cities and counties can spend on new housing, and the tech industry boom that has attracted many new residents and driven up real estate prices around the state. Currently many parts of the San Francisco Bay Area – including neighborhoods in Oakland, Berkeley and San Jose – are designated low-income areas even as people flock to move there.
Newsom argued in his speech that tax breaks and the program will succeed only if the investments also benefit the people currently living in the designated low income neighborhoods.
“We don’t just believe in growth. We believe in inclusion. You can’t have one without the other,” Newsom said. “I appreciate your interest. I hope it’s not just to make a quick buck.”