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Brown Calls For Fiscal Discipline In State Of State Address

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler joins to provide further analysis of the Governor's speech.

3:45 p.m. Like the speech itself, reactions to California Governor Jerry Brown’s State of the State address fell along familiar lines.

Democratic Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins called the governor’s spending plan one of “austerity.”

"The Assembly’s responsible approach to budgeting allows us to consider posterity, too, with more smart budgeting to guard against future economic downturns, while also making major new investments, starting this month,"says Atkins.

Atkins says she’ll look to increase funding for developmental disability care.

Senate Republican leader Jean Fuller said the surplus could cover road repairs and Medi-Cal services.

"We do have the largest amount of unanticipated funds that we’ve ever had and we have the largest budget that we’ve ever had, and it seemed a little premature to fix the newest problems with new taxes," says Fuller.

Two-thirds of the Legislature would have to approve new taxes, meaning passage requires Republican support.

- Ben Bradford / Capital Public Radio


2:54 p.m.  Governor Brown used the State of the State speech last year to propose ambitious new renewable energy standards. This year, he actively avoided major announcements.

"You’re not going to hear me talk about new programs today. Rather I’m going to focus on how we pay for the commitments we already have," said Brown.

He called for reserving more money to pay for employee pensions. And, he again pushed to pay for rising Medi-Cal costs and rundown roads and bridges with new or restructured taxes. He warned lawmakers against tapping a budget surplus.

"If we’re to minimize this zigzag of spend-cut-spend that this tax system inevitably produces, we must build a very large reserve."

Fiscal restraint and the prospect of recession are familiar themes for Brown. And they’ll help define his position in budget negotiations.

- Ben Bradford / Capital Public Radio

11:06 a.m. In his record 14th State of the State address, California Gov. Jerry Brown urged continued fiscal restraint and warned of a pending economic slowdown that could stunt the state’s recovery from the Great Recession.

CapRadio's State Of The State Special Coverage:

In his speech at the state Capitol Thursday morning, the four-term governor called for preparation for a slowdown, increasing the state’s voter-approved Rainy Day Fund and continuing to pay down debts.

“We live today in a world that is profoundly uncertain. What happens far away can touch us very directly,” Brown said, noting that turmoil in financial markets in China and the Middle East can cause great harm in California. “That’s why we have to be prepared and vigilant.”

Brown laid out other priorities including fighting climate change and income inequality; increasing education spending; raising new revenue to repair the state’s crumbling infrastructure; ensuring the state is prepared for long-term future droughts; and paying for a huge set of unfunded liabilities, including state employee pension costs.

Brown’s speech comes amid higher state revenue projections, driven largely by growing income tax revenue. Those increases have added billions of dollars to the state coffers in recent years, more than the Brown Administration had anticipated.

Since his return to the Capitol in 2011, Brown has repeatedly urged saving, reminding lawmakers of the multi-billion shortfalls the state experienced during the Great Recession. He has the current growing and relatively stable economy could falter at any time, leaving the state without the means to pay for critical services unless it saves now.

“I don’t want to make those mistakes again,” Brown said.

Brown, 77, previously served as governor from 1975 to 1983. He was elected to a third term in 2010 and re-elected again in 2014.

The governor has enjoyed favorable job approval ratings from voters during his recent terms, including a 56 percent favorable rating in a poll released this month. Brown’s clashed, however, with some progressive Democrats in the Legislature who say he hasn’t done enough to restore social services funding following budget cuts several years ago. Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, have generally praised Brown’s focus on savings but opposed his efforts to raise new revenue for transportation repairs and to close a looming $1 billion shortfall in the state’s Medi-Cal budget.

- Chris Nichols / Capital Public Radio


A compilation of reaction from lawmakers and agencies to Brown's State of the State address: 

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