Transcript: CA Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2014 state of the state address – Part I
Part I – Partial transcript of Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D-California) 2014 state of the state address on Jan. 22, 2014:
Thank you. It seems like people are kind of excited. [Laughter] And so am I.
I did come here to speak to all of you in 1975 – a long time ago – but some of you may have forgotten or probably weren’t born then.
I came here in 1959 for the first time in my…garb as a Jesuit seminarian. My Roman collar, my little black suit. I sat right down there. I looked up at my father gave his first state of the state way back in 1959.
So, Lieutenant Governor, I appreciate change, but I also value continuity. [Laughter]
In fact, I used to say, “Take the ins and throw them out. Take the outs and put them in.” I don’t say that anymore. [Laughter]
My message: There’s no substitute for experience. [Laughter]
Anyway, here I am – I’m here to report on the state of our state.
I’m choosing to ignore those who say that Article V of our Constitution, which requires the governor to report to the legislature is outdated, that you can’t report on the conditions of our state from Sacramento because California is too spread out and too diverse.
It occurred to me that these critics who have long recited our state’s decline perhaps have nothing to say in the face of our state’s comeback, except “Please don’t report it.” [Laughter]
Well, I’m going to report it, and what a comeback it is!
A million new jobs since 2010.
A budgetary surplus in the billions. In the billions. But don’t spend it. That’s the point.
And a minimum wage rising to $10 an hour.
This year, Californians have a lot to be proud of.
For a decade, budget instability was the order of the day. A lethal combination of national recessions, improvident tax cuts, and too much spending created a financial sinkhole that defied every effort to climb out.
But three years later, here we are with state spending and revenues solidly balanced and more to come.
For that, I thank all of you for your courageous and dedicated legislative work. It’s truly impressive.
I also want to thank the members of my administration who’ve worked so hard to help make all this happen.
But above all else, I think we should thank the voters of California. In 2010, through Proposition 25, they established a majority vote for passage of a state budget. That ended the gridlock. And then in 2012, they approved the temporary tax increases of Proposition 30.
These two initiatives, together with a recovering economy and the tough decisions you took, made all the difference.
But we’re not out of the woods, and we’re certainly not out of the drought.
Life is uncertainty. The climate is changing, not for the better. And the business cycle and the stock market are historically volatile, with good years followed by bad with painful regularity.
And while we know our revenues will fluctuate up and down, our long-term liabilities are enormous, and they’re ever growing.
Let me list some of them:
Well over $100 billion for pensions owed to our state workers, teachers, and judges.
Tens of billions needed – by the way, judges, it’s $3 billions. Just so you understand. You’re part of the problem too. [Laughter] It’s only $3 billion. Teachers and public employees are well over $100 billions.
Tens of billions are needed to cover retiree health care – more like $60 billion.
And $65 billion is needed to maintain and keep our roads and our buildings and our other infrastructure in sound repair.
And we must also account for future risks that could negatively affect our budget, like congressional decisions, natural disasters, and the uncertain cost of the Affordable Care Act.
So, we can’t go back to business as usual. Boom and bust is our lot.
And we must follow the ancient advice recounted in the Book of Genesis that Joseph gave to the Pharaoh: “Put away your surplus during the years of great plenty so you’ll be ready for the lean years, which is sure to follow.”
Most governors and legislatures in modern times have forgotten this advice. This time, we won’t do that. We’ll pay down our debts and remember the lessons of history.
The American philosopher George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
To help us keep our fiscal realities in mind, I have some playing cards here that puts the chart that’s in budget summary on the last 15 years. You probably can’t see this but it’s mostly red. It was a little black in the beginning and the end.
But, just not to discourage you and lift your spirits, I put something on the back of this playing card a picture of Sutter and underneath – well, on this side we have a quote from George Santayana, you know, “Those who forget the past will repeat it.” On this side, Sutter makes a number of little comments. This one says, “Bark if you don’t like deficits.” [Laughter]
I’m going to put these right here just in case, you know, we forget…