California Governor Jerry Brown signed or vetoed more than 1,000 bills this year. And Claremont McKenna Government Professor Jack Pitney says the governor’s actions are “classic Jerry Brown.”
“In some respects he wants to curb the growth of government regulation,” he says. “On the other hand he takes a fairly liberal or progressive stance toward social issues. And we see that in the pattern of bill signatures and bill vetoes.”
Pitney says he was slightly surprised to see Brown veto some political reform legislation, especially since Brown has cultivated a reputation for being a political reformer.
“But he’s always had a more practical and pragmatic side,” he says. “And his argument in his veto message is that at least some of the measures simply weren’t necessary and were more symbolic than substantive.”
Senate President Darrell Steinberg called the vetoes disappointing. Some of the bills were authored by his fellow Senate Democrats in response to ethics scandals in the Senate.
“We felt that that package was well considered and that no one ever said that we were going to fix all the problems inherent when you have a lot of money in politics.”
Still, Steinberg says he’s happy with many of the bills Brown signed, including his measure to overhaul the state’s initiative process.
“Certainly I think the plastic bag bill was a major, major bill. The water bond of course, (and) the ground water legislation,” he says.
Incoming Assembly Republican leader Kristin Olsen supports Brown’s ethics bill vetoes. She says the bills wouldn’t have accomplished much.
“And I tend to agree with him that full transparency and disclosure is best,” she says. “Bills that set arbitrary limits on gifts or what-have-you is a little bit silly when it comes to ethics.”
Olsen says she was happy to see Brown sign bills related to charter schools and children in foster care.
“But there are a number of signatures and vetoes that I was disappointed in as well,” she says. "Governor Brown continues to support nanny government and the philosophy that the state knows what’s best for us."
Olsen says new regulations about riding a jet ski and new regulations regarding high school football practices are examples of government overreach.
Brown held four signing ceremonies this year. Pitney says since the governor likely has his reelection locked up, he didn’t have to focus very much on publicity events for attention.