“Looking Forward to Working” for “Real Reform”

Lots of folks have lots to say about Gov. Jerry Brown’s January 18 State of the State speech, which, certainly seemed to generate more comments than the content warranted.

(Lamentably, none of these myriad statements note that the arguable highlight of the speech was use of the adjective “dystopian” in the sixth paragraph to define a certain brand of journalists the governor believes exists.)

There was a canned response, apparently filmed the day before Brown’s speech was presented, by Senate GOP leader Bob Huff of Rancho Cucamonga and Assembly GOP leader Connie Conway of Visalia.

Speaking directly to the policy initiative contained in the septuagenarian governor’s speech that “Republicans are the last line of defense for California taxpayers” and that “our priorities are the priorities of California’s working families.”

Said Huff: “You shouldn’t be asked to pay higher taxes to let criminals out of jail before they’ve paid their debt to society,” an apparent reference to the governor’s proposal – already enacted last year — to move non-violent felons from state prisons to county jails.

Assembly Speaker John Perez and Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, Los Angeles and Sacramento Democrats, respectively, held a live availability so they could be peppered with reporter questions.

In addition they offered written summaries of their insights.

Brown presented a “compelling argument for needed job creation measures” and a “comprehensive list of areas to move California forward,” said Perez, who added that he and as colleagues were “looking forward to working with the governor to achieve new (as opposed to old) progress for California.”

For the edification of Californians, Perez also provides links to a video of his remarks, a video of his opening remarks, the value of building high-speed rail and  “Republican obstructionism:”

 Apparently less media savvy, Steinberg offers no links to video versions of his trenchant pronouncements.

The Democratic governor “laid out a positive vision for the state with a real pathway to make it happen,” Steinberg allowed.

(As opposed to a phony pathway that won’t make it happen.)

A victim of Brown’s veto pen last year on a measure to change the state’s testing of academic performance in public schools, Steinberg still sounded a bit churlish.

“I share the governor’s concern about too much testing in our public schools. I’ll take him up on half of his offer; yes, too much testing takes away valuable instructional time in the classroom, but it’s unclear what he proposes as a replacement for assessing student achievement. To change behavior on the ground requires a system of measurement beyond bubble test scores. Accountability is a means to an end, and that end must be better preparation for students to succeed in college and the work place. 

 Apparently, this is the new diplomatic phrasing of “I’ll meet you out by the tether ball courts after class, lame-o, and we’ll see who is the most bitchin. “

Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, a Van Nuys Democrat, waxes poetic saying Brown proposes “the choice of a generation” by “empowering Californians to choose how the remnants of our enduring budget gap will be eliminated.”

He, too, looks forward to working with the governor.

Another “looking-forward-to-working-with the-governor” guy is State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson. He is “heartened” by Brown’s call to “re-examine state testing requirements.”

No lily-gilder he, Torlakson points out for the state’s shut-ins that “education is our future whether or not you have children in school.”

Also eager to rolling up his shirt sleeves and bond with Brown is Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, a Concord Democrat.

Tragedy Avoided

DeSaulnier says it “would be tragic to disproportionately call on the poor, hungry, and most vulnerable to balance the budget.”

(Like last year? Or voting to do that a second time in row?)

Brown’s overall approach is “fiscally sound,” says Sen. Lois Wolk, a Davis Democrat, although his cuts are “difficult.”

(Particularly for those they fall upon.)

Wolk also offers her support for investing more in renewable energy noting that there is “tremendous potential for economic growth and environmental benefits, especially in the agriculture sector.” She allows as to how she has legislative proposals that would do just that.

Wolk disagrees with Brown’s outline of a new state water plan but still looks forward to working with him on “developing an affordable and realistic solution that all Californians can support.”

Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, a Sacramento Democrat, points out that there is “hard work ahead” but, nonetheless, looks forward to working with the governor and other lawmakers to “ensure the brightest future for California.”

(Anyone working toward a dimmer future? At least intentionally?)

Republicans do take a dimmer view of the Democratic governor’s remarks.

In the main, they aren’t looking forward to working with Brown although Sen. Bill Emmerson of Riverside says he “stands ready” to work with Brown. 

Brown is right, Emmerson allows, that California needs a better system of wheeling its water although Emmerson says Brown was “short on specifics.”

On the other hand, Brown is wrong that its time to build a high-speed rail system, Emmerson says

Sen. Mark Wyland of Carlsbad is a Republican who welcomes Brown’s “optimism” but suggests that the reality of an 11.3 percent unemployment rate requires the state to “eliminate the impediments to investment.”

These impediments are not articulated.

George Runner, a member of the Board of Equalization who identifies himself as “Senator George Runner” on his press releases, says Californians “don’t need higher taxes, we need more private sector jobs.”

By encouraging a ballot measure that increases taxes, Brown “sends entirely the wrong message,” Runner says.

The governor should be “campaigning for jobs, not higher taxes,” Runner concludes.

Et Tu Mimi?

In a fairly warm rebuke, Sen. Mimi Walters, a Laguna Niguel Republican, says Brown “demonstrated his oratory skill.”

It is clear she believes this occurred during his State of the State speech.

But – et tu Me-May? – the governor “only provides images and blueprints for reform. As we have seen with pensions, we never see language and leadership in the movement towards real reform.”

(As opposed to fake reform?)

California needs “real leadership,” Walters says.

(See previous note.)

Unburdened by leaving the Legislature in less than nine months, Sen. Tom Harman, a Huntington Beach Republican, minces no words.

Brown, Harman says, “glosses over reality.”

(This statement should have received far more media attention given that no political utterance by anyone involved in California politics since statehood has ever glossed over reality.)

“California is NOT on the mend.  You can’t tax yourself into fiscal solvency. If that were the case, California would be the healthiest state on earth,” quoth Harman. “The governor should be focusing on putting people back to work – not increasing the size of government and the tax dollars needed to support it.”

Consider the soul-searching that must have led up to this admission by Sen. Joel Anderson, a San Diego Republican:

“I want to work with the governor but sometimes it’s hard to take him seriously.”

(Might consider forming a caucus. Or perhaps therapy.)





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1 Comment »

  1. Why is it that no one looks at the states standing in the level of taxes paid and then compares the size of our deficit budget numbers. I think there is a clue here that has been missed. why is it that states with a lower or no deficit budget issue also have the lowest taxes? We need to stop labeling every idea as all wrong if it comes the party we are not members of. We also need to find a solution which does not require raising taxes, we have some of the highest rates right now and it is just not working.

    Comment by Management Slug — 1.19.2012 @ 11:34 am

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