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State of the State: Gov. Brown Talks Cuts, Taxes, High-Speed Rail, Water, Pensions

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Listen to the Governor's entire speech here

Speaking to a Joint Convention of the legislature, Brown insisted that "California is on the mend."  But he said the state could only fully bounce back with a balanced budget that mixes cuts and taxes.


You can't give a State of the State address these days without discussing the budget.  And early on, Jerry Brown talked deficits: $26 billion last year, $9 billion now.

Brown: "So we're left with unfinished business: closing the remaining gap.  Again, I propose cuts and temporary taxes. Neither is popular but both must be done."

But he quickly pivoted from his controversial budget cuts and sales and income tax initiative to a brighter tone.

Brown: "California has problems, but rumors of its demise are greatly exaggerated."

The governor spoke of major projects like the state's greenhouse gas reduction goals, its growing green economy and - especially - high-speed rail.  That project has come under fire lately, but Brown called on lawmakers to approve billions in state bond funds so construction can start this year.

Brown: "It's now your decision to evaluate the plan and decide what action to take.  Without hesitation, I urge your approval."

On water, the governor promised the "basic elements" of a storage and delivery proposal by summer.  On education, he called for reducing standardized tests and the number of state mandates to give local school districts more flexibility.  And on pension reform, Brown challenged lawmakers to "do something real."

Brown: "Anybody who tells me you feel absolutely confident that 40 or 50 years from now, things are all gonna be paid for, are not looking at the numbers and the other comparable investments."

When he was finished, Brown quickly left the Capitol to start a two-day campaign swing through Southern California.  And coincidence or not, the Secretary of State's office cleared his tax initiative for signature gathering within two hours of his State of the State address.



 Support and opposition for the Governor's speech came from some likely - and not so likely - sources.  Democrats like Assemblyman Roger Dickinson praised Brown's positive views - and his goals for the state's future.

Dickinson: "Emphasizing that we need to continue to be prudent about putting our fiscal house in order but at the same time be sure that we are looking to invest in the future to build a brighter day for California."

Other support for some of what the Governor had to say came from a Republican.  Assembly minority leader Connie Conway said she liked Brown's idea about schools - specifically that increased federal and state decision making should be avoided.

Conway: "To let schools make more decisions locally? That is something I do support and can support."

But Republicans - including Senator Ted Gaines took issue with the Governor's proposal to raise sales and income taxes.

Gaines: "I simply disagree on the tax increases.  We don't need to increase taxes on folks in the state of California while we're still hurting."

Democratic Senator Mark Leno was unhappy about what he didn't hear in the speech.

Leno: "Conspicuous by its absence in his comments was anything having to do with the social safety net, which of course is in his sights as cuts that yet need to be made.  And that's very difficult for all of us who care about those who are hurting the most because we have devastated social service and health programs in recent years."

More on that subject will be coming - lawmakers will start this week to address the Governor's budget proposals - with the first of several hearings on the subject.




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