Gov.Brown talks budget in State of the State

Local legislators respond to governor’s address

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Gov.Brown talks budget in State of the StateCalifornia Gov. Jerry Brown focused on the budget deficit in last week’s State of the State address, calling on the deeply politically divided state legislature to work together toward a solution.

Brown also called Republicans to task for failing to fall in line with initiatives promoted by his party — which currently holds a super majority in both houses of the state legislature — and even chided conservatives for failing to applaud on cue during his address.

He thanked legislators in advance for their cordiality in what he anticipated would be an “extremely difficult and wrenching” legislative session.

“California faces a crisis that is real and unprecedented,” said Brown. “Each of us will have to struggle with our consciences and our constituencies as we hammer out a sensible plan to put our state on a sound fiscal footing, honestly balance our budget and position California to regain its historic momentum.”

He said although the state economy has shown signs of recovery, Californians need to do their work “boldly and without delay” in order to put their fiscal house in order.

Brown said his intent is to once again make California a leader in job creation, renewable energy, state-of-the-art efficiency, innovation and high-quality education.

He said that, in order to do that, the administration and legislature need to find ways to restructure bureaucracy to make it more efficient, and to do so “without any purpose of evasion. This is not a time for politics as usual — the stakes are too high.”

As the state faces “absolute breakdown,” he said, “Where we go from here — more austerity or more stimulus — is hotly contested.”

He said that voters sent a clear message that the state and nation are headed in the wrong direction. “The political parties are as far apart as I’ve ever seen them,” he said. But politics is at the heart of democracy, and elected leaders need “do what is right and regain public trust. Kicking the can down the road by not owning an honest budget is simply out of the question.”

Brown said that although Republicans oppose raising taxes, it is “unconscionable” for them to allow chopping $12 billion out of government spending to balance the deficit. He also chastised them for failing to provide an alternate solution.

(State Sen. Jean Fuller, whose district includes Ridgecrest, outlined a plan that would focus on increasing revenues through kick-starting new and fostering existing industry. But many Republicans have noted that in a Democrat-controlled legislature, conservative initiatives often never make it as far as the Senate and Assembly floor.)

Brown reminded the legislative body that its No. 1 objective is to bring spending in line with its revenues and “earn back the respect and trust of the people we serve.”

He said he envisioned a future where California took advantage of its natural assets and strategic location to reap unimaginable benefits.

“Gov. Brown was given a reprieve by California voters last fall and a rare opportunity to work across the aisle to find meaningful and long-term solutions to the state’s most challenging problems,” said Fuller.

She said that while she was encouraged by his highlighting the need for reform, “we should be watchful for any real progress and improvements.” She also cautioned that when it comes to expensive implementations such as federal health care, climate-change initiatives and high-speed rail, “It’s important to note that overspending on these projects will not result in any immediate economic benefit.”

Shannon Grove, our Republican assemblywoman, released a more pointed statement in response to Brown’s address.

“The governor just saluted public employee unions and thanked them for the millions of dollars they poured into passing the Proposition 30 tax hike last fall. Where’s the governor’s shout-out to the small businesses whose pockets they all just raided again?

“Californians now pay the highest taxes in the nation because of Prop 30, and our state’s competitiveness in keeping and attracting job creators is suffering,” said Grove.

“I trust that the voters won’t continue to fall for the Democrats’ convoluted logic that if California has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, the answer lies in taking more money from working people and giving it to the bureaucrats in Sacramento to spend on themselves.

“Brown keeps touting his ‘balanced’ budget, but his numbers are based on revenues gained from $50 billion worth of higher taxes. He and the supermajority may think that they can tax away pension liabilities and the state’s other IOUs, but California’s challenges will only be resolved when we create a better business climate so people can get back to work.”

Story First Published: 2013-01-30