Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
KPBS Midday Edition

Gov. Jerry Brown Delivers State Of The State Address Amid Shifting Politics

Calif., Gov. Jerry Brown is greeted by lawmakers as he enters the Assembly to deliver his annual State of the State address to a joint session of the state Legislature Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif.
Associated Press
Calif., Gov. Jerry Brown is greeted by lawmakers as he enters the Assembly to deliver his annual State of the State address to a joint session of the state Legislature Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif.

Related: Transcript And Fact Check Of The Speech By Public Media Reporters

Gov. Jerry Brown Delivers State Of The State Address Amid Shifting Politics
Gov. Jerry Brown To Deliver State Of The State Address Amid Shifting Politics GUEST: Katie Orr, politics and government reporter, KQED

We must prepare for very uncertain times. That was one of the opening lines of Govenor Jerry Brown State of the State address. The speech delivered this morning at the capital was delivered from -- differed from Brown's other yearly addresses and that it did not outline as specific agenda for the state, rather it reaffirmed California's commitment to immigration reform, combating climate change and maintaining health insurance for millions in the state. Joining me is Katie Orr, politics and government reporter, KQED . Welcome to the program you are in the chambers during the State of the State address can you tell us what the overall mood was like? As you mentioned, it was a different speech from what we are used to hearing from Governor Brown. Typically we get a lot of policy, we get a lot of specifics on different things he wants to accomplish for the year. This was a fired up liberal speech. He got a ton of stunt -- standing ovation, a lot of clapping and applause. Afterwards, Democrats in the chamber were just really fired up by his speech. Governor Brown didn't mention president Trump by name. The new administration was certainly the central topic. The governor came out swinging against what he perceives as the new atmosphere in Washington. No one knows what the new leaders will actually do. There are signs that our -- are disturbing. We have seen a bold assertion of alternative facts. Whatever those are. We've heard the blatant attacks on science. Signposts of our democracy, truth, stability, working together have been exterior -- obscured a swept aside. That's from the state of the state speech given by Governor Jerry Brown. We have her Democratic legislators big like this before, is this the first time the Governor has been so appointed in his remarks? I think it is the first time we've seen him come out so forcefully against the trumpet ministration. Couple weeks ago he gave the speech at a science conference where he got passionate about defending California's climate change policies. This was a broader range of issues and specifically on immigration. We haven't heard Brown talk about that -- that much about people who might be in California, undocumented people being in the state illegally. He said he listed some of the laws that have passed to protect those people, the trust that which allows undocumented people to get driver's licenses. Access to higher education and he said we may be called to defend those laws and defend them we will. Which again is a powerful message from the Governor, I think it is unusual for him. Here is something more the Governor said about immigration. Let me be clear, we will defend everybody, every man, woman and child who has come here for a better life and has contributed to the well-being of our state. [ Applause ] And almost impassioned Governor making the speech. The governor also defended California's commitment to combat climate change and defend health insurance for its citizens. Any new proposals that you heard there about how the state will do that? He said a lot about working with other governors, to preserve the Affordable Care Act in the country noting that if it goes away and California would like to keep it or some form of it, that would be very expensive. I believe the latest number I saw was $19 billion. The state would have to keep paying on its own. He mentioned working with that and along those lines he really emphasized bipartisanship. He reached out to Republicans, saying the Democrats have majority in both the assembly and the Senate, Republicans represent real Californians also and they are people that need to be taken into account when making different policy decisions. There was one issue in which Governor Brown said he and the trumpet ministration agree on the new plan to fix infrastructure. The president has stated his intention to build and build big. He met with several labor leaders and committed tool $1 trillion investment in public works across America and I say amen to that, we are there with you. Infrastructure has been an issue the Governor Brown has wanted to attack for a long time. Absolutely. In his budget proposal he calls for putting $4 billion toward transportation issues throughout the state. That is similar to a proposal in the legislature right now, which is about $6 billion. It seems like there is momentum. All sides seem to want this done quickly. We could see a bill on the Governor's desk in the next month or two. You spoke with two San Diego state legislators after the speech. What did they say? I spoke with Senator Toni Atkins and assemblyman Todd Gloria. Both of them were thrilled with the speech. They said they loved to hear the Governor fired up like that, vowing to take on the Trump administration. There was some hesitancy that he didn't get more into specifics such as affordable housing, that the criticism I've heard from several Democrats saying they wish you'd been more specific. Which is, he is usually very specific and this time he took it in a different direction. They were generally happy with what he said. Todd Gloria said he would like to see California continue to lead on a lot of issues versus just playing defense against a Trump administration which is also a message we hear from Democrats. They want California to push forward, despite the fact that it may be harder with the federal government we have now. Did you get the sense that the speech will get more national attention in Governor Brown's previous state of the states pages? I think it will. I think a lot of the stuff that California does now will get more attention because lawmakers have framed of themselves as the leaders of the resistance, if you will. We have seen legislative leaders on national networks like CNN talking about California's response to Donald Trump. We've seen Jerry Brown be quoted in various national stories about how the state won't back down when it comes to climate change. I would not be surprised to see national coverage of this speech. I think it's something we can expect more of as the trumpet administration get settled and takes up more policy issues. I've been speaking with Katie Orr, politics and government reporter, KQED . Thank you.

Gov. Jerry Brown delivered an aggressive defense on Tuesday of California's liberal policies on immigration, health care and climate change during his State of the State address, vowing to fight the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress if they threaten to roll back state policies.


"California is not turning back. Not now, not ever," Brown said.

The Democratic governor, who has made fighting climate change a legacy issue, also noted the state's successes in cutting unemployment, closing a multibillion-dollar deficit, boosting school funding and expanding rights for immigrants who are in the country illegally.

However, he said it's hard to keep his eyes trained on California after the election of President Donald Trump.

"While no one knows what the new leaders will actually do, there are signs that are disturbing. We have seen the bold assertion of 'alternative facts.' We have heard the blatant attacks on science," Brown told a joint session of the Legislature. "Familiar signposts of our democracy — truth, civility, working together — have been obscured or swept aside."

Watch the full address below:

Gov. Brown's State Of The State

Listen to the full address below:

The election of Trump and a Republican Congress have upended the order of California Democrats, who have pursued aggressive greenhouse gas-reduction policies with backing from the previous presidential administration.

The state also embraced the federal health care law and committed billions of dollars to expanding Medi-Cal, the state's health insurance program for the poor. Brown noted that while more than 5 million people now have access to health care, it comes with billions of dollars in federal funding that could be jeopardized.

"Were any of that to be taken away, our state budget would be directly affected, possibly devastated," Brown said, adding that he would join lawmakers and other governors to do whatever he can to protect peoples' health care.

Earlier Tuesday, Trump dealt a blow to former President Barack Obama's legacy on climate change, signing executive actions to advance the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, a move cheered by congressional Republicans and decried by environmentalists.

Obama stopped the proposed Keystone XL pipeline in late 2015, declaring it would have undercut U.S. efforts to clinch a global climate change deal that was a centerpiece of his environmental legacy. The Army decided last year to explore alternate routes for the Dakota pipeline after months of protests.

Brown is coming off a blockbuster year of liberal wins. He secured an extension of landmark climate change legislation, signed off on an increase in California's minimum wage, expanded family leave laws, toughened gun laws and persuaded voters to soften sentencing laws and reject a ballot measure that would have threatened two of his legacy projects involving high-speed rail and water transport.

Brown is now projecting a $1.6 billion budget deficit and proposing $3 billion in spending cuts, largely to social programs that his fellow Democrats support.

The state's plan on climate change involves rolling back carbon emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

To drive home the point, the Brown administration sent a new version of the plan to reporters just minutes after his inauguration.

The state Senate has confirmed Brown's nominee for state attorney general, Xavier Becerra, a Southern California congressman who has vowed to defend minorities against policies he sees as regressive.

Brown swore in Becerra Tuesday before his State of the State speech.