By Tim Hunt
Our paradoxical GovernorUploaded: Jan 6, 2015
You have to hand it to Gov. Jerry Brown.
Monday morning, he was sworn in for a record fourth term (the term limits law was passed after he left office after his first two terms and the state court ruled he was eligible for another run at California's top job).
His inaugural address served to both set his agenda for the next four years and give the constitutionally required update to the Legislature on the state of affairs in the state. He continued with his paradoxical approach. The governor has persuaded voters to both raise sales taxes temporarily as well as jack up the income tax on the wealthiest Californians (critical factors to bringing the budget into balance) as well as pass a $7.5 billion water bond and a constitutional amendment to set aside revenue in good years for the inevitable recessions.
"California has made bold commitments to sustain our environment, help the neediest and build for our future. We are leaders in renewable energy and efficiency; we have extended health care to millions; we are transforming our educational and criminal justice systems; we are building the nation's only high-speed rail system; we raised the minimum wage; we are confronting the drought and longer-term water issues; and last, but not least, we have enacted real protections for our hardworking immigrants, including the issuance of long-awaited driver's licenses."
A few of my translations:
? Californians continue to pay the highest electrical rates in the country and more for gasoline than any other state in the country. There's a reason that there is so little manufacturing in this state. If you are a knowledge worker in the tech fields, you are a happy camper. If you are a blue collar worker with skills in manufacturing, good luck.
? While he prides himself on the rainy day fund, the governor will preside over groundbreaking today for a $68 billion (today's estimate) high-speed rail with a first segment that connects Fresno to Bakersfield. Yeah. There is no identified revenue source for two-thirds of the money and that assumes it stays within budget (does that $6 billion Bay Bridge come to mind?)
? The state has given the first step to de facto amnesty to "hardworking immigrants" otherwise known as undocumented workers or illegal immigrants. The rule of law?
? The governor's new funding program for education is a big improvement over the antiquated prior system. It recognizes that some districts in lower income areas have challenges way beyond those faced by most of the districts in the Tri-Valley and need additional resources to help students succeed.
The governor shifted back to the pragmatic when he raised the huge issues of burgeoning unfunded liabilities for public pension systems. The Legislature took steps to deal with both the teachers and the public employees systems, but long term fixes are decades off at the current pace. Although, school districts, which will receive 39 percent more money than they did four years ago, face a doubling in their pension contribution over the next few years.