Legislators respond to Brown’s address

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

While California Gov. Jerry Brown defied newly inaugurated President Donald Trump during this year’s State of the State address, local legislators expressed concerns that state policies are failing to meet the needs of citizens living outside the mostly densely populated areas.

“California is not turning back — not now, not ever,” Brown said in a speech that addressed health care, climate initiatives and Californians at risk of deportation. He also implored state Republicans to rise “beyond party and act as Californians first.”

He said that if the state loses federal support through repeal of the Affordable Care Act, California’s budget would be “directly affected — possibly devastated.” (See related editorials, Page 4).

Despite a recently discovered $1.9-billion shortfall (which he attributed to “budgeting errors”) Brown outlined a mostly positive outlook for Californians.

However, many lawmakers — including those representing Kern County and the Indian Wells Valley — noted that Brown did not address the challenges facing many middle-class Californians.

“There are really two ‘states of the state’ in California,” said Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes. “One California is populated by wealthy people. They receive excellent health care, their children are taught in the best and safest schools. The other California is home to people whose access to health care is limited, their schools are failing and violence is an everyday reality. They can’t afford to own a home, rent takes up nearly 30 percent of their paychecks and they drive over an hour just to get to their jobs.”

State Senate Republican Leader Jean Fuller, who represents Kern County, said that she hopes Californians can “brush aside any lingering emotions from the 2016 campaign and focus on the future. Simply put, working well with Washington is good for California.

“I have offered Gov. Brown my help in bridging the gap between Sacramento and our federal partners to help our state succeed,” said Fuller.

“The governor’s speech presents a platform for him to continue making the case for fiscal prudence. And it is fiscally prudent to have a good working relationship with Washington.”

She said this relationship is particularly important in order to move forward with necessary infrastructure projects in the state.

Assemblyman Vince Fong said that despite Brown’s rhetoric, “We cannot deny or ignore the reality for millions of people throughout California.

“Our economy is not working for many middle-class families, blue-collar workers and Central Valley communities.”

He urged Brown and other state Democrats to foster economic growth through reforms of California’s stringent regulatory climate, investment in vital water and highway projects, and promotion of energy production.

“We cannot ignore the higher costs of transportation, energy and food, which have real consequences for families and their quality of life. There is a better way.”

Story First Published: 2017-01-27