To the delight of California’s many Affordable Care Act supporters, Gov. Jerry Brown dedicated a small chunk of today’s State of the State address to the expansion of public health care programs.
The governor took a few moments during his speech to confront problems within the criminal justice system, including the need for more mental health and drug rehabilitation services.
This is Brown’s second call in recent months to improve health services in criminal justice. His recent budget proposal allocates $3.1 billion to mental, dental and medical care for inmates and increases the number of mental health crisis beds, particularly for women. It also shifts focus to rehabilitation and reintegration after incarceration.
A recent state audit found that inmate suicides are being improperly handled by California State Prisons. The average suicide rate in California is higher than the national average, and suicide numbers have been on the rise in California women’s prisons in particular.
Governor Brown Focuses On Preserving His Environmental Legacy
Ezra David Romero, Environment Reporter
Gov. Jerry Brown’s sixteenth State of the State focused heavily on environmental challenges and his plans to address them. Or, as he put it: “We can’t fight nature. We have to learn how to get along with her.”
The governor pointed out that there’s “no long-term precedent” when it comes to the impact 40 million people can have on California’s ecosystem. He used the devastating Southern California Thomas Fire — and the mudslides that followed — as an example of why better forest management is necessary. To suggest ways to decrease the threat of larger wildfires, he mentioned he’s putting together a task force of scientists and forest practitioners.
Brown says the health of trees and soil are a huge part of the answer. “Trees in California should absorb CO2, not generate huge amounts of black carbon and greenhouse gas as they do today when forest fires rage across the land,” he said.
And Brown says he plans to continue to establish California as a state that works to combat climate change, stating “action must be taken to avert catastrophic changes in our weather systems.”
The major hurdle Brown alluded to in the climate change fight? “All nations agree [that climate change is happening] except one and that is solely because of one man: our current president,” the governor said.
Brown also hinted that his administration will soon release a plan to spend funds created by cap-and-trade auctions.
“The goal is to make our neighborhoods and farms healthier, our vehicles cleaner — zero emission the sooner the better — and all our technologies increasingly lowering their carbon output,” Brown said.
To meet the state’s 2020 goal of 50 percent of energy coming from renewables, he says there will need to be at least 5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2030. “Think of all the jobs that will create and how much cleaner our air will be.”
Part of the cap-and-trade funding is allocated for clean water and air quality measures at the neighborhood level. The California Air Resources Board is working with communities across the state on neighborhood air-quality projects. Individuals can now use hand-held devices to track air quality from their homes. The goal is to figure out where local sources of pollution are coming from to better inform the people that live in these communities.
“Instead of just measuring pollutants over vast swaths of land, regulators will zero in on those communities which are particularly disadvantaged by trains, trucks or factories,” Brown said.
Brown again touted his plan for a twin-tunnels project that, if completed, will transport more Northern California water to Southern California.
“I am convinced that it will conserve water, protect the fish and the habitat in the Delta and ensure the delivery of badly needed water to the millions of people who depend on California’s aqueducts,” Brown said.
But California WaterFix is far from being funded. The contentious twin-tunnels project could be reduced to a single tunnel due to problems in securing funding. In September, the Westlands Water District — representing a key group of valley farmers — voted not to help pay for the project, due to concerns of costs to farmers. But Brown says it wasn’t a fatal blow.
Since, several other water agencies voted against the project. And early this month, rumors of a plan for a single tunnel project surfaced when the Department of Water Resources asked state builders vying for the project to submit proposals on a scaled down project. Still, California water officials say the state has not made a final decision on reducing the size of the project.
The Sound Of Jerry Brown Through The Years
Gov. Jerry Brown has been very quotable over his years in California politics. Insight Producer Chris Remington pulled some favorite bites from Brown's time as governor in the 1970s, his campaign for president and his current stint as governor of California.