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With Signings and Vetoes, Brown Plays Balancing Act

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, October 10, 2011
Nearly 900 bills crossed California Governor Jerry Brown's desk this year.

Brown: "It's like a fire hose that you have to drink or something!"

But despite promising that lawmakers would be "singing the veto blues," by the time he put his pen down late Sunday night, Brown ended up signing the vast majority of measures.

The Democratic governor rejected about 14 percent of the bills that crossed his desk this year - well below Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger's 26 percent veto rate.  Steve Maviglio was press secretary for former Governor Gray Davis.  He says Brown tried to spread the love among rival interest groups:

Maviglio: "He kept everybody in both camps happy, whether it be labor and business, environmentalists, developers, health care advocates and health insurers.  He spread a lot of love around to a lot of different parties to project a mainstream image for himself and to keep the state as sort of on a mainstream course."

For example, Brown signed several union-friendly bills.  But he vetoed all but one of the bills on the California Chamber of Commerce's job killer list.

Still, former Schwarzenegger press secretary Aaron McLear says the low veto rate surprised him - especially given Brown's criticism of the legislature, and lawmakers' low approval ratings.

McLear: "It wasn't at all black and white.  Governor Brown absolutely went in the direction of business on a few bills.  But by and large, I think you saw that he went along with the unions, as he has been doing with other policies throughout his term.  It was really striking to me to see that someone who came in saying he was going to veto a lot of bills actually didn't veto many at all."

Brown's 14 percent veto rate comes in slightly above the average of previous governors, dating back to the mid-1960s.
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