Brown: Proving The ‘Declinists’ Wrong
JAN. 18, 2012
By KATY GRIMES
Was it Gov. Jerry Brown’s State of the State address today? Or the “more show than substance” address, as some lawmakers dubbed it?
Brown defended High-Speed Rail, pushed for implementation of AB 32, touted economic recovery, criticized “dystopian journalists” and Republican critics and again called for tax increases.
“California is on the mend,” Brown insisted. But he still called for tax increases in a ballot initiative that he said would balance the budget.
Brown was all over the place. He also talked about more cuts to state spending, the Delta water project and his goal of achieving 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020. “You have laid the foundation by adopting the requirement that one third of our electricity come from renewable sources by that date,” he said. “This morning I can tell you we are on track to meet that goal and substantially exceed it. In the last two years alone, California has permitted over 16,000 megawatts of solar, wind and geothermal energy projects.”
“Despite some modest job growth, more than two million Californians remain unemployed,” said State Board of Equalization Member and former Republican state Sen. George Runner, in a response to Brown’s speech. “Rather than drive more job creators and wage earners away from our state, we should be doing everything in our power to help them stay here and succeed.”
“California is a wonderful state. The land of dreams,” said Brown as he cited the “bold moves” he plans to take with High-Speed Rail. “President Obama supports it, and has provided funding. Without hesitation, I urge your approval.”
Brown harkened back to his first two terms as Governor. “As governor the last time, I signed legislation to study the concept. Now 30 years later, we are within weeks of a revised business plan that will enable us to begin initial construction before the year is out.”
Critical of his critics, Brown referred several times to the “declinists” in the state who disagree with him on how to bring about reforms and fiscal balance. “Putting our fiscal house in order is good stewardship and helps us regain the trust of the people. It also builds confidence in California as a place to invest and realize one’s dreams,” said Brown. “Those who believe in California’s decline will shrink back. Contrary to those declinists, who sing of Texas and bemoan our woes, California is still the land of dreams — as well as the Dream Act.”
Then he thanked the Legislature for sending him the Dream Act, which grants illegal immigrants access to state financial aid at public universities and community colleges.
Brown offered his list of goals: “If we work together, we can stimulate jobs, build renewable energy, reduce pollution and greenhouse gasses, launch the nation’s only high-speed rail system, reach agreement on a plan to fix the Delta, improve our schools, reform our pensions, and make sure that prison realignment is working — to protect public safety and reduce recidivism.”
He stated and restated his support for implementation of AB 32, California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, and the California Renewables Portfolio Standard, the mandate that California create 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020. “Under AB 32, California has stepped out and crafted a bold plan to deal with climate change and foreign oil dependency,” he said. “The plan will require less carbon in our fuels, more efficient technologies across a broad swath of businesses and a carefully designed cap and trade system that uses market incentives instead of prescriptive mandates.”
But Brown did not address what AB 32 implementation will cost taxpayers.
Brown insisted that California is attracting billions of dollars in clean tech venture capital investments because of the clean energy mandates. “In 2011, almost 40 percent of such investments were made in California, making our state not only the leader in the nation but in the world.” But again, there was no talk about the hefty subsidies going to these investors, or how they stand to benefit from cap and trade.
“California also leads the nation in cleaning up the air, encouraging electric vehicles and reducing pollution and greenhouse gases. Our vehicle emissions standards — which have always set the pace — now have been adopted by the federal government for the rest of the country,” said Brown.
“The speech was vintage Jerry, filled with humor and witticisms, but with the same mantra: invest, spend and tax, at a time when millions are out of work and the state will be facing trigger cuts and deficits for years to come,” said Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, R-Dana Point. “Growing state government and adding to our debt to do so, is not the way to reduce California’s mountain of debt or increase employment.”
Other legislators apparently concurred.
“I want to work with Gov. Brown to solve California’s problems,” said Sen. Joel Anderson, R-El Cajon, in a statement. “I like his proposal to consolidate some departments and eliminate some boards and commissions. But it’s hard to take the governor too seriously when he continues to ignore the utter mismanagement at his Department of Transportation (Caltrans). This is a department that reports directly to the governor, yet he ignores the underlying problems at Caltrans, which wastes billions of dollars and now is jeopardizing the safety of Californians.”
Anderson cited several issues and gross mismanagement at CalTrans, including 40 percent pay hikes, establishing an average yearly salary of more than $100,000 for all 20,000 Caltrans employees, ordering new vehicles when unused fleets sit gathering dust and billing taxpayers for luxury travel junkets.
Brown was good on his short assessment of the need for pension reform, but only referenced his 12-point plan, which has received a tepid response from lawmakers. “As for pensions, I have put forth my 12 point proposal. Examine it. Improve it,” Brown said. “But please take up the issue and do something real. I am committed to pension reform because I believe there is a real problem.”
Sen. Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Hills, summed up Brown’s speech, “Democrat politicians’ reliance on raising taxes as the only solution illustrates their lack of ability to effectively lead our state out of this economic recession.”
Tags: AB 32, budget, budget deficit, California, California High-Speed Rail Authority, California Legislature, Democrats, Education, global warming, government, Jerry Brown, jobs, Katy Grimes, legislature, Pension Reform, President Obama, Public Employee Unions, Republicans, Sacramento, tax increases, unemployment, unions
June 19, 2013