On Wednesday, Governor Brown entered the State Assembly chamber to deliver the State of the State address. His speech largely focused on the financial issues facing the State, including his plans to place temporary taxes on the ballot and increase funding for education. However, his goals also included continuing with High Speed Rail, addressing the state’s pervasive water problems, and securing constitutional protections for realignment funding.
However, most notably for local government was his lack of details and attention paid to other pressing issues, such as redevelopment and enterprise zones. He only briefly mentioned prison realignment and pension reform.
Instead, he focused on setting lofty goals: reviving the California economy through green technology, addressing some concerns of the business community, and boldly forging ahead with the much maligned high-speed rail.
“During the 1930s, The Central Valley Water Project was called a ‘fantastic dream’ that ‘will not work,’” cited Brown during the speech. “The Panama Canal was for years thought to be impractical and Benjamin Disraeli himself said of the Suez Canal: ‘totally impossible to be carried out.’”
They turned out to be incorrect on those projects, and Governor Brown said that critics of High Speed Rail would likewise be proven wrong.
Similarly, Governor Brown decried the “declinists who sing of Texas and bemoan our woes.”
Their defeatist attitude sets a tone in California of failure, but as Governor Brown sees it, California is still the land of dreams, of investment, and opportunity.
“California is on the mend,” said Brown.
Part of the plan that put California ‘on the mend’ was last year’s realignment plan, now being implemented. When discussing the prison realignment, Governor Brown mentioned that there’s a difference between writing a law and implementing it.
Realignment also made an appearance as part of his case for his tax initiative, which was officially released by the Attorney General’s office shortly before the start of the State of the State. That initiative, titled “Temporary Taxes to Fund Education. Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding” would seek constitutional protections for realignment programming. Those protections drew a statement of support from the California State Association of Counties.
“The California State Association of Counties is grateful for Governor Brown’s recognition of the important work counties have taken on as part of realignment, and for reiterating his commitment to seeking constitutional protections for funding the public safety programs that were transferred to local governments last year.”
From a local governance standpoint, however, Governor Brown never broached the topics of Enterprise Zones or Redevelopment, both of which have serious implications for local government since Redevelopment was abolished by Supreme Court Decision at the end of last year.
But Governor Brown painted a rosy picture of economic growth anyway, saying that California was still, “…the Gold Mountain that Chinese immigrants in 1848 came across the Pacific to find. The wealth is different, derived as it is, not from mining the Sierras but from the creative imagination of those who invent and build and generate the ideas that drive our economy forward.”