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Brown: California Comes Back But Challenged By Drought

Evening Edition

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown has delivered a dual message in his annual address to the Legislature — that a California resurgence is well underway but also is threatened by economic and environmental uncertainties.

Chief among those uncertainties is the severe drought that is gripping the nation's most populous state and already is forcing water cutbacks among many farms and cities.

In the State of the State address, Brown said it was not clear what role heat-trapping gases have played in three years of dry weather, but he said the excessively dry conditions throughout California should serve "as a stark warning of things to come."

Video

WATCH: Brown Delivers 2014 State Of The State Address

Above: In this video courtesy of The California Channel, Gov. Jerry Brown delivers his annual address to the California Legislature.

"This means more droughts and more extreme weather events, and, in California, more forest fires and less snow pack," he said, a week after declaring an official drought.

Brown has delivered more State of the State addresses than any other governor in California history. His latest version was workmanlike and without surprises.

It touched on the state's turnaround from years of budget deficits to projections of surpluses, and noted his continued efforts to reduce the state's prison population and equalize public school funding.

He noted that a million new jobs have been created since 2010 and that the state faces budget surpluses in the billions of dollars for the foreseeable future, thanks to a surging economy and tax increases approved by voters in 2012.

Aired 1/22/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.

GUESTS:


Katie Orr
, State Government Reporter, Capital Public Radio

Marney Cox, Chief Economist, SANDAG

Transcript

Document

2014 State Of The State Transcript

2014 State Of The State Transcript

Full transcript of Gov. Jerry Brown's State of ...

"What a comeback it is," he said as he opened his address.

Yet he also said California continues to face financial challenges that could imperil its future, including $100 billion in pension liabilities for state workers, teachers and judges, tens of billions more to cover retiree health care and $65 billion for upkeep of roads and other public works.

Brown, 75, only briefly mentioned the $68 billion high-speed rail project that is a priority of his but has lost much of its public support.

He faces increasing scrutiny for continuing to push the bullet train project. The latest entrant into the 2014 governor's race, Republican Neel Kashkari, called it a symbol of misplaced priorities in Sacramento.

The governor has not yet declared whether he will seek re-election, although he is widely expected to do so and has collected nearly $17 million for a campaign. It would be his last term as governor after serving from 1975 to 1983 then returning to the office in 2011.

Brown's address came less than two weeks after he delivered his state budget proposal for the fiscal year that starts in July, outlining a vision for the state that embraces frugality even as tax revenue soars to a record level.

The $106.8 billion general fund he proposed is nearly 9 percent more than spending in the current fiscal year. That includes $45.2 billion for K-12 schools, a year-over-year increase of nearly $4 billion.

Brown's vision for how that education money is to be spent, laid out in last year's State of the State address, is starting to take effect.

Last week, the state Board of Education approved sweeping new rules that direct school districts to funnel billions of dollars of new revenue toward schools that serve high numbers of students from low-income families, who are English-learners or are in foster care. The additional money is generated partly by temporary increases in sales and income taxes that Brown persuaded voters to approve in 2012.

He is likely to spend much of the first half of the year in arguments over spending with Democratic lawmakers, many of whom want more money for their own priorities. After years of cutbacks to favorite programs, many are anxious to restore funding for some existing programs and launch new ones.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, for example, wants to add transitional kindergarten for all 4-year-olds, an initiative that would require hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

KPBS' Maureen Cavanaugh, Patty Lane and Peggy Pico contributed to the Midday and Evening Edition segments.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Derek'

Derek | January 22, 2014 at 11:01 a.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

"[T]he $68 billion high-speed rail project...has lost much of its public support."

Please support that statement with evidence that doesn't involve any push polls. Good luck!

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | January 22, 2014 at 12:45 p.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

Brown would be a decent governor if not for one big red flag: he is a shill of the prison-industrial complex.

His moderately progressive agenda on other topics like the environment and education is admirable, but his insistance on continuing our decline into a police state just like his predicessors from BOTH sides of the isle is very troubling.

If he wants my vote again, he's going to have to be more objective and less tied to the big prison systems.

This state - and this country - imprison more people per capita than any other nation on earth, including such places as Iran, Russia, and North Korea.

Brown seems to be clinging to this antiquated idea that non-violent criminals should be locked-up for long periods of time, that the metnally ill should be thrown in cells rather than mental treatment hospitals, and that tax payers should ocntinue flipping the bill to build even more large prisons where our fellow citizens are being abused by poorly regulated prison staff.

If you look at Mr. B's record solely on prison issues and the police state mentality, he might as well be Rick Perry !

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | January 22, 2014 at 12:50 p.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

"[T]he $68 billion high-speed rail project...has lost much of its public support."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Correction, Mr. B. - the public supports HSR, it's the incompetent way the state has been handling HSR that has people miffed.

Getting a project this massive off the ground take bold, visionary leaders who are willing to stick their necks out for something that may not show a high yield of return until after they are already out of office.

Unfortuantley, such leaders are sorely lacking in our state and nation today.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | January 22, 2014 at 12:58 p.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

why do we need a high speed rail? i can go buy a flight to san francisco right now for like $100 or less.

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Avatar for user 'Derek'

Derek | January 22, 2014 at 1:24 p.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

JeanMarc, if high speed rail fares were set at 83% of airfares as planned, and if you didn't have to be at the station an hour early to go through security, and if you could use all of your electronics (including cell phone) throughout the whole trip, and if the seats were roomier than cattle class airline seats, then why wouldn't you want to take high speed rail?

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | January 22, 2014 at 3:07 p.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

JeanMarc's great great great grandfather:

Why do we new these things called automobiles!? I can hire a rickshaw for 2 cents !

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Avatar for user 'RegularChristian'

RegularChristian | January 22, 2014 at 6:23 p.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

Great state to be in.

I thought the first surplus in a dozen years or so was news enough to talk about. What a turn around!

I especially liked his statement that there is no substitute for experience.

Yes much work remains, but boy are we on the right track. Fiscally responsible for the first time in a long time!

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