By Daniel Weintraub
In a short, blunt but largely optimistic inaugural address, Gov. Jerry Brown promised to “speak the truth” about California’s problems and called on his fellow citizens to pull together and sacrifice for the common good of their state.
He said his first budget will be “painful” but “honest,” balancing spending with available tax revenues while shifting power and money from Sacramento to local government and the schools to increase accountability.
“My plan,” Brown said, “represents my best understanding of our real dilemmas and our possibilities. It’s a tough budget for tough times.”
Brown said the cuts he will recommend next week to help erase a $25 billion budget shortfall will cover the spectrum, probably touching on health care, income assistance, parks, universities, prisons and just about every part of state government.
“But choices have to be made and difficult decisions taken,” he said. “At this stage of my life, I have not come here to embrace delay and denial.”
Brown did not go into any details about the cuts he will recommend, but media reports suggest that he will be seeking to revive many of the spending reductions proposed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger but rejected by the Democrats in the Legislature.
That would include cuts to the Healthy Families insurance program for the working poor, monthly grants to the aged, blind and disabled, child care subsidies and in-home care for the elderly and disabled people. Brown also is expected to call a special election in June and ask voters to extend temporary tax increases adopted by the Legislature and Schwarzenegger in 2009.
In his speech, Brown recalled the trips his ancestors took from Europe and across America to reach California, and extolled the state for the virtues that have made it what one author called the “Great Exception.”
To restore that glory, he said, every Californian – especially his fellow lawmakers – must “rise above ideology and partisan interests and find what’s required for the good of California.
“There is no other way forward.”