Reaction to Gov. Jerry Brown’s Budget

A scrupulously arbitrary review of 16 statements by lawmakers and statewide elected officials finds Gov. Jerry Brown’s latest budget plan to be generally praiseworthy.

Bob Blumenfield

Bob Blumenfield

“It’s not time to roll out a ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner yet, but today’s news gives Californians a reason to hold our heads high and put dunce caps on our state’s critics,” says Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, a Van Nuys Democrat who chairs the lower house’s budget committee.

“We are emerging from the grip of financial crisis and keeping the California Dream alive.”

There are some divergent views, however. Like California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.

Cantil-Sakauye, ever so undiplomatically, says Brown’s budget will have a “devastating impact on injured victims, children, families, consumers, merchants, landlords and tenants and many others who depend on the courts for relief and to resolve disputes.”

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye

Judging from the tone and content, she appears to be arguing that the Democratic governor’s investment in the judicial branch is insufficient, at least to the members of the judicial branch.

Other lawmakers express “deep concern” over elements of Brown’s plan but are grateful for a reprieve from years of “crippling budget shortfalls” and “devastating budget cutbacks” that have pummeled the state’s  “most vulnerable and at-risk.” 

Several lawmakers “applaud” the governor. None specify whether they’re giving Brown a polite golf clap or the thunderous affirmation caused by a ‘49s playoff touchdown.  The former, one suspects.

In a showing of bipartisanship, Board of Equalization member George Runner, a Lancaster Republican and former legislator, “commends” Brown for “championing fiscal discipline” but notes that restraint ins pending is a “foreign concept to most Democrats.”

Marc Levine

Marc Levine

Lest anyone think he might have strayed off the GOP reservation, Runner does say he’s “disappointed that we’ve heard virtually nothing from the governor about spurring job creation.”

Most new lawmakers are a bit more effusive in their appraisal than their more seasoned colleagues.

Not only does Assemblyman Chris Holden, a Pasadena Democrat, believes Brown’s budget is a “Defining moment. He’s “especially pleased” in the next paragraph and downright “excited” in the following one.

Sen. Loni Hancock, a Berkeley Democrat and a state lawmaker for a decade, is cagier. She is merely “pleased.”

Despite being a state lawmaker for 10 perhaps 15 minutes, Assemblyman Marc Levine, a San Rafael, channels his inner Averill Harriman. Brown’s proposal, Levine says, is a “good starting point” for negotiation.

Clearly, a golf clap.  But unlike many of his freshman colleagues, it appears Levine is familiar with the political truism: “Always say ‘no’ first.” Once someone says the “Y” word, they‘re no longer part of the negotiation.

Several lawmakers — among them Sen. Lou Correa, a Santa Ana Democrat, and Assemblyman Jose Medina, a Riverside Democrat — say they’re “looking forward” to working with the Democratic governor to enact reforms, pass an on-time budget, create jobs, save humankind and so on.


Jose Medina

Jose Medina

No doubt their eagerness to work with Brown is only eclipsed by his desire to work with them.

Another recurring theme is that Brown’s budget is a turning point of some kind.

Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, a Sacramento Democrat, says a balanced spending plan is a sign “the tide is turning.”

Assembly Speaker John Perez, a Los Angeles Democrat, says California “has turned the corner.” Not only that but the governor’s budget is “sober, restrained and forward thinking” and a “solid foundation for the budget process.”

Perez doesn’t say he looks forward to working with Brown, perhaps because he has worked with Brown previously and knows what it’s like.  

What Perez looks forward to are “thorough and insightful public hearings,” presumably on the budget and presumably in the house in which he presides.

But all statements pale when compared to the chilling artistry of Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, a Concord Democrat, who not only applauds and supports Brown but seamlessly weaves a dizzying number of political clichés into a scant three  sentences:

Susan Bonilla

Susan Bonilla

“This is the ‘live-within-our-means’-budget proposal that Governor Brown has promised, and I applaud and support the general direction the Governor is taking:  focusing on the core functions of government; increasing funding for K-12 education while providing flexibility for local school districts; and stronger investment in higher education and financial support for needy students. With surpluses forecast for the next four years, this budget is a good step towards reducing our debt to education and putting California’s fiscal house in order.

As Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance, I will play an active role in this discussion as we maintain this progress and chart a path towards a more secure funding stream for our schools in the years ahead.”

Wow. All that’s missing is as well-placed “going forward.” 




Filed under: Budget and Economy, Venting

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