Gov. Jerry Brown: “California is on the mend”

Facing a far less calamitous deficit this year, Gov. Jerry Brown struck a cautiously optimistic tone in today’s State of the State address, assuring lawmakers that “California is on the mend.”

California Gov. Jerry Brown. CREDIT:

“We’re coming back,” said Brown, noting that more than 230,000 jobs were created in the state and personal income grew by $100 billion during the past year. “California is still the land of dreams.”

But with an estimated $9.2 billion deficit looming this year, Brown told legislators that both painful cuts and temporary tax increases are needed to help close the deficit and put California back on a sound fiscal footing.

“Neither is popular but both must be done,” said Brown. “In this time of uncertainty, prudence and paying down debt is the best policy.”

Brown warned that deeper cuts to education, public safety, and health and human services – on top of the $1 billion trigger cuts in effect through June – are inevitable unless voters approve his ballot measure to temporarily raise sales and income taxes in November.

Read more: Competing tax measures could jeopardize Gov. Brown’s ballot initiative

If approved, tax revenues generated by the School and Local Public Safety Protection Act of 2012 will fund the public safety realignment and prevent deeper cuts to local schools and community colleges.

“If we’re successful in passing the temporary taxes I have proposed and the economy continues to expand, schools will be in a much stronger position,” said Brown.

As expected, state Republicans attacked Brown’s tax initiative.

“Governor Brown says that the sky will fall if Californians don’t agree to [the]…tax increase,” said Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway in a pre-recorded rebuttal to Brown’s State of the State address. “You and I know that this simply isn’t so…The good news is that our economy is starting to recover…But the bad news is that Sacramento wants to spend all this new money – and then some.”

Highlights from Gov. Brown’s State of the State address: 

2011 accomplishments cited by Brown:

  • Economy recovery with 230,000 jobs created and personal income grew by $100 billion in California last year;
  • Signed the Dream Act, which grants undocumented immigrants access to state financial aid in public universities and community colleges;
  • Improved business development by helping businesses navigate state regulations through the GO-BIZ program;
  • More than 40% of clean tech venture capital investments in 2011 were made in California; and
  • More than 16,000 megawatts of renewable energy projects were granted permits by the state last year, which means California is on track to exceed Brown’s goal of producing 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy (produced by solar, wind, or geothermal) by 2020;

2012 goals:

    • Begin initial construction of the high-speed rail project to connect northern and southern California by the end of 2012; Brown said a revised business plan will be finalized in the coming weeks;

  • Develop the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, in collaboration with the Department of the Interior, to provide reliable and sustainable water supply for 25 million Californians and millions of acres of farmland in the state while restoring the Delta’s ecosystem by creating more than 100,000 acres of new wildlife habitat;
  • Reduce the number of state standardized tests required and provide more timely test results to teachers and principals to guide their performance;
  • Establish classroom visitation programs where the teachers would be observed and evaluated based on how they teach not just on the students’ test scores; and
  • Reform the state pensions to cut costs and ensure sustainability.


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