While Gov. Jerry Brown announced a balanced budget and the magical economic recovery of California this week, too many Republicans fell all over themselves to praise him for it. It was difficult to see much of a difference between the two parties, yet there is a ideological chasm as wide as the state.
Brown’s State of the State address Thursday was predictable. He’s nothing if not consistent in his ability to give a speech. However, a fantastic opportunity was blown by Republicans to get out their message… any message…
What is evident is Republican lawmakers don’t seem to be on the same page.
There were a few tidbits worth noting, but most of the Republicans, whether newly elected or seasoned, espoused mediocrity. And we all know how that has been working for them.
There’s polite, and there is rolling over. Instead of agreeing with Brown’s “inner Republican,” more should have pointed out that what Brown says and does are often very different. And perhaps noting that Brown’s speech was peppered with Democratic talking points wouldn’t have hurt either.
Instead, statements praising the governor’s address were the apparent order of the day.
Assembly Republican Minority Leader Connie Conway:
** “On the positive side, I am encouraged by his talk of fiscal discipline and passing a ‘live within our means’ budget. Although our budget problems are nowhere near ‘fixed‘ as the Governor claims given the state’s enormous unpaid debt, he is absolutely right to say that ‘fiscal discipline is not the enemy of our good intentions but the basis for realizing them.’”
** “Republicans also agree with the Governor that it is time to reinvest in California’s colleges and universities.”
** “One area that Sacramento must make a bigger priority is job creation. It has been encouraging to hear the Governor talk about the impact of burdensome regulations on small businesses and job creation, but as that old Wendy’s commercial once blared, “Where’s the beef?” Reform of our state’s complex laws is needed and I hope he can convince legislative Democrats to take action. I believe there is common ground to be found on economic reforms to make California more competitive for private sector jobs.”
Freshman Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside:
“Governor Brown did the right thing in thanking the Legislature for making tough decisions, like the billions of dollars in cuts that have already been implemented. We have come a long way and I share the Governor’s optimism that California can once again return to greatness.
“I am encouraged by Governor Brown’s call to spend within our means. However, the majority of his speech did not outline the steps necessary to achieve this goal.
Freshman Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Hunnington Beach:
“I also agree with the Governor’s boost in education funding this year. The voters clearly approved higher taxes because they believed it would go to education. It is important that we make funding education a priority and not let funds be siphoned off for other general fund uses.”
Freshman Assemblyman Eric Linder, R-Corona:
“I commend the Governor and his efforts to ensure that students at all levels, K-12 and Higher Education, not shoulder the full load of Sacramento’s mistakes from prior years. In order to accomplish this we must reign in spending and give business the tools to help make California prosperous for all again.”
** “Assemblyman Scott Wilk, R- Santa Clarita, responded to Governor Brown’s 2013 State of the State address, saying he was encouraged by the tone of the speech but disappointed that the address lacked any real plans for promoting job growth. Wilk is looking forward to working across the aisle to ensure private sector job creation is once again a top priority in Sacramento.”
Most of the Assembly members merely stated the obvious while agreeing or thanking the governor.
Sen. Minority Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, managed to do both:
** “We share the Governor’s optimism and celebration of California’s entrepreneurial spirit, business community and educators. We are encouraged by the Governor’s acknowledgement that we need to pay down debt, develop a rainy day fund, and avoid saddling our college students with more tuition increases.
We look forward to working with the Governor on education reforms to ensure that all California students can obtain a world class education.
While the Governor acknowledged the loss of jobs in California and focused on job creation in Silicon Valley, he did not offer any substantive proposals for job creation or helping California’s working families. The long-term solution to California’s economic challenges is to get Californians back to work.”
Sen. Bill Emmerson managed to say nothing, as did most of his Senate colleagues:
** “Today the Governor agreed with Republicans that we must live within our means. He also acknowledged the need for a strong rainy day reserve to end the boom and bust budgeting cycles that have plagued California taxpayers. Let’s hope that my Democrat colleagues hear his call for fiscal discipline.”
Contrast many of these statements with Senate President Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento:
** “We enter 2013 surrounded by the most positive atmosphere in several years, and the Governor’s State of the State address points us toward the great potential that lies ahead for California. With bold action, the Legislature worked with Governor Brown to weather the storm of fiscal adversity in perhaps the most difficult period in modern California history. We handled that well; we can also handle success in the better times that lie ahead.
“I join the Governor in his call for fiscal restraint, but neither can we be afraid to be bold in our vision for California. We cannot spend money that we don’t have, and we won’t. As the economy grows, we will develop smart strategies to pay down debt, to build-up our reserves, and also to begin restoring what’s been lost when the opportunity is there to do so.”
What’s the difference?
Some guts were displayed…
Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, perhaps had one of the few statements that identified some of the bad policies and inaccuracies of the governor’s address.
** “The Governor just saluted public employee unions and thanked them for the millions of dollars they poured into passing the Prop. 30 tax hike last fall. Where’s the Governor’s shout-out to the small businesses whose pockets they all just raided again? Californians now pay the highest taxes in the nation because of Prop. 30, and our state’s competitiveness in keeping and attracting job creators is suffering.”
Assemblyman Brian Jones showed some grit as well:
** “Right now, California is off track because of the stifling environmental regulations, the costly high speed rail project, over regulation, and the third highest tax rate in the nation. I agree with Governor Brown that California will return to the Golden State it once was, and we will overcome ignorance and resume again, but only under new leadership.”
** “This is the second year Governor Brown pointed backwards at California’s success. He keeps bringing up that this is the future California will have, but is ignoring the current situation that those who brought their creativity to California are now leaving. What was once mass migration into the state has become mass emigration,” Jones added.
Assemblyman Don Wagner, R-Irvine, said in a video on his website that while the governor said we should live within our means, we never seem to, and then go back to the taxpayers for more.
Sen. Mimi Walters, always succinct, called Brown’s speech well-delivered, as always, but his declaration of a balanced budget and statewide economic recovery a “fairytale.”
Former Republican Sen. George Runner, now on the Board of Equalization, said what every Republican should have said. ”Clearly, it’s far too early to celebrate California’s recovery. Millions have yet to experience it.”