California governor Brown urges continued fiscal restraint

SACRAMENTO, California Wed Jan 22, 2014 5:41pm EST

1 of 2. California Governor Jerry Brown speaks during a news conference in San Francisco, California January 17, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith

SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - California Governor Jerry Brown took credit for his state's fiscal rebound in a state of the state address on Wednesday that also urged continued restraint to lawmakers seeking to rebuild a social safety net tattered by years of tight budgets and economic malaise.

In a speech that could preview the tone of an expected bid for re-election this year, Brown said that California had added 1 million jobs since 2010 and extricated itself from "a financial sinkhole that defied every effort to climb out of it.

"To avoid the mistakes of the past, we must spend with great prudence, and we must also establish a solid rainy day fund, locked into the constitution," said Brown, a Democrat now in a second stint as governor after serving two terms from 1975 to 1983.

Brown, 75, has toed a largely centrist path during this go-round at the state's top job, vetoing several bills, including some gun control measures favored by progressives in his own party - despite Democratic control of both houses of the legislature and the governorship. Brown's speech showed no sign of a change in that course.

The onetime seminarian, who is widely expected to seek re-election, touted changes to the way the most populous U.S. state funds education, channeling more money to districts with disadvantaged students and allowing more local control over how the dollars are spent.

He also called on regulators to loosen some water distribution rules to help California farmers and cities deal with a nagging drought, which he declared as an emergency last week.

Brown blamed the drought in part on climate change, and predicted increases in the wildfires that plague the state, along with a continued decrease in the Sierra snowpack that provides water to its streams and reservoirs.

"We do not know how much our current problem derives from the build-up of heat-trapping gasses, but we can take this drought as a stark warning of things to come," Brown said.


In the speech, Brown barely mentioned one of his key projects, a proposed high-speed rail line to connect Los Angeles with San Francisco. He also shied away from any mention of fracking, the oil and natural gas drilling procedure in which water and chemicals are injected into rock formations.

Outside, environmental activists protested the governor's support of some fracking in the state, some carrying signs saying, "No fracking way."

Brown did, however, encourage conservation and the development of new technologies to wean the state off of fossil fuel, prompting applause from the largely Democratic lawmakers and their guests.

Earlier this month, Brown took a stern line on fiscal restraint when he released his $107 billion budget plan, potentially inviting a fight with some progressive state lawmakers of his Democratic Party who want to restore spending on social programs cut during the long economic downturn.

Key issues facing the state as it emerges from the economic slump include the cost of higher education, the quality of California's once-vaunted public K-12 schools and an ongoing struggle over conditions in its massive prison system.

State Republican leaders said they welcomed Brown's vision of fiscal restraint, but differed on how to implement it.

Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway called for paying down more debt with the projected multibillion-dollar surplus, rather than boosting spending on social programs or high-speed rail.

State Senator Bob Huff, who leads the Republican caucus in that body, urged support for a plan to temporarily ease restrictions in the federal Endangered Species Act on removing water from the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The plan would allow more water to flow to drought-parched farms and cities.

"Sometimes we have to realize that human beings are animals, too," Huff said.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, David Gregorio and Nick Zieminski)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (10)
actnow wrote:
Yet another reason to control the growth of our nations population. More folks means more water. Uncontrolled immigration will balloon our current 320 million to about 450 million in only a few short decades. No more mass immigration. Time to start thinking about the future. Stop S744. Enforce our existing immigration laws!

Jan 22, 2014 8:14am EST  --  Report as abuse
morbas wrote:
Dear Jerry on the economy,

USA tax structure is the fault and an obstacle to worldly potential. Transaction tax code imposes disproportionate burden at the most fundamental rights of liberty, justice. Any encumbrance on sustenance is contrary to equality in the ’pursuit of happiness’. Debt and deficit is simply insufficient revenue. We can nationalize the tax code eliminating all other taxation, immediately balancing the budget(s), through a margin graduated income tax principle.

To: Office of Senator ____________________
United States Senate Washington,
D.C. 20510
To: Office of Representative_________________________
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
We the people of this United States do proclaim this federal government ‘of, by and for the people’. That, in order to fairly distribute revenue burden, to satisfy ‘net income’ progressive taxation, to balance all governments budgets, and to not tax poverty;
The people mandate:
Income National Tax code that shall use margin graduated income tax principle: Margin $30k 0% single, $60K 0% joint, income above this a linear increasing rate {Income-[$30k or $60k])*(Income/$800k)*90%; 90% limit} . Exemptions shall be prohibited. The Federal Reserve shall amend the (90%) rate, and control currency printing mandated to maintaining currency availability and value. The Federal Reserve shall set the Margin rate value well (>2x) above highest of all State Poverty Level(s). Revenue shall be proportioned 1/3rd Federal,1/3rd State proportioned per cast ballot and 1/3rd Local proportioned per cast ballot.
This National Tax is a peoples tax, no other citizen taxation shall be permitted. Business shall not be taxed. The Federal Reserve shall control taxation. The people will by simple majority approve or reject all margin and rate changes at every Congressional House Representative election year ballot.

Use Linear Interpolation between points.
$60k-yr 0%
$100k-yr 4.5%
$200k-yr 15.75%
$300k-yr 27%
$500k-yr 50%
$1Million-yr 84.6%
Upwards to 90% at $1Billion-yr

Wealth disparity is driven by unfair tax, the super rich pay 15% IF ANY AT ALL. Tax code and regulations favor large companies, USA should declare ‘separation of corporate and and state’. Corporate taxation is appended to product cost, in effect, the corporate is a tax agent of the government. Return to 1913 income tax principles, sum all income as a progressive tax base.


Jan 22, 2014 8:47am EST  --  Report as abuse
Vuenbelvue wrote:
Actnow wrote:

“Yet another reason to control the growth of our nations population.”

Totally nailed it, Actnow. I went to LA after reading on MSNBC about water restrictions, (I don’t live in California), and pictures of multiple sky cranes building new offices and living units around the Staples Center. At the rate of population growth, Governor Brown will always be chasing water supplies, as more of the land returns to desert.
I saw a State Department Official interviewed who wanted to change Cuban Visa’s from 6 months to 5 years to allow more Cubans to swamp Florida, also sometimes in drought. The U S Government must think it needs to increase the population to fight future wars as the world population is projected to hit 9 billion in 2045.

Jan 22, 2014 9:23am EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.