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Governor Touts 'Data Dividend,' Workforce Initiatives in First State of State

In his first State of the State address, Gov. Gavin Newsom didn't lean heavily on technology and innovation, but his comments gave some indication of how new data and workforce initiatives might be informed by tech.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom didn’t lead his first State of the State address, to a joint session of the California Legislature, with tech — and innovation rated only a mention — but the state’s 40th governor nevertheless called for what are likely to be key changes in the areas of data and workforce, both of which should be greatly informed by technology.

The governor praised the Legislature for “passing the first-in-the-nation digital privacy law,” last year’s California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which former Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law in June 2018. But Newsom said the state needs to go further to secure and utilize residents’ data.

“Consumers have a right to know and control how their data is being used,” Newsom said, highlighting the CCPA. “But California’s consumers should also be able to share in the wealth that is created from their data. And so I’ve asked my team to develop a proposal for a new Data Dividend for Californians, because we recognize that your data has value and it belongs to you.”

In a nod to the deep role that tech companies play, Newsom said the state will appoint a new "Commission on California’s Workforce & Future of Work,” convening labor and business, public and private sector to originate new ideas to expand “worker opportunity without extinguishing innovation or flexibility.”

“California needs a comprehensive statewide strategy to uplift and upskill our workers, to ensure technological advances in AI, blockchain, big data are creating jobs, not destroying them, and to reform our institutions so that more workers have an ownership stake in their sweat equity,” the governor said.

Significantly, Newsom put the brakes on the state’s troubled bullet train’s plans to traverse the state but indicated that California is capable of building a line from Merced to Bakersfield. He also called for “new transparency measures" with respect to the bullet train and said: “We’re going to hold contractors and consultants accountable to explain how taxpayer dollars are spent — including change orders, cost overruns, even travel expenses. It’s going online for everybody to see.”

The Department of Motor Vehicles, which has come under increasing scrutiny after questions about its beleaguered Motor Voter program, rated only a passing mention during the State of the State.

As he wrapped his remarks, Newsom offered only a reference to “reimagining the DMV.” A representative of the Governor’s Office referred Techwire to the governor’s Jan. 9 appointment of Government Operations Secretary Marybel Batjer to head a DMV Reinvention Strike Team.

Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.