Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Jerry Brown's Defiant State of the State: California Is Still Golden

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Jerry Brown's Defiant State of the State: California Is Still Golden

Article excerpt

With chronic budget woes engulfing California, many analysts had expected a 'gloom and doom' State of the State address from Gov. Jerry Brown. They got nothing of the sort.

California Gov. Jerry Brown defied expectations Wednesday, delivering a State of the State speech that was unapologetically ambitious and even visionary despite a perpetual budget crisis that has, in recent years, dimmed the luster of the Golden State.

Governor Brown had been expected to use his address to further persuade voters to support a ballot initiative that asks voters to raise taxes on themselves - a last-ditch effort to solve California's chronic budget shortfalls. Instead, he attempted to rally Californians to a sense of common purpose and destiny.

The state which birthed Apple, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Twitter, Facebook, and "countless other creative companies ... is still the land of dreams," he said. "Rumors of [California's] demise are greatly exaggerated."

It was the platform for an exhaustive list of goals that Brown laid out for California: stimulate jobs, build renewable energy, launch the nation's only high-speed rail system, reach agreement on a plan to fix the Delta, improve schools, reform pensions, and "make sure prison realignment is working."

"He came in a fighting mood that spoke to the critics - me included - who think there is only so much we can do," said Sherry Jeffe of the University of Southern California School of Policy, Planning, and Development, in a post-speech analysis on KQED radio. "This is the ambitious agenda he suggested when he ran for governor saying, 'I'm too old to mess around.' It was not all gloom and doom. A lot of us didn't expect that."

During the 15-minute speech he thanked the Legislature for passing a tough budget in 2011 and cited positive economic statistics, such as: "In 2011, California personal income grew by almost $100 billion, and 230,000 jobs were created - a rate much higher than the nation."

He also directly disputed the findings of an independent commission, which recommended last week that California not proceed with its first-in-the-nation, high-speed rail network because it can't afford the $20 billion price tag. …

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