Long before the phrase “fiscal cliff” was coined, many people were hoping that California would fall off any variety of cliffs. But according to Gov. Jerry Brown’s State of the State address, the state isn’t falling anywhere.
Thanks to last November’s voter approval of Proposition 30, which added new tax revenues (among other things), and actions by the Democratic-majority legislation to curb spending on prisons and other areas, Brown said he could deliver a balanced budget.
Brown, who was escorted into the legislature by State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, said the state’s fiscal health was due to:
- The legislature’s reform of workers compensation and long-term pension liabilities, reforming state government, ushering in a new high-speed rail system, and issuing a 1/3 mandate for renewable energy sources.
- Labor unions, for their unity and efforts in support of a wide range of initiatives (ballot and otherwise) last year
- School teachers, administrators, and students, for supporting efforts to reform a “funding system that is overly complex, bureaucratically driven and deeply inequitable.”
This optimism came with a warning, however: “The people have given us seven years of extra taxes. Let us follow the wisdom of Joseph, pay down our debts and store up reserves against the leaner times that will surely come,” Brown said.
In his address, Brown asked for:
- A local control funding formula that allows supplemental funding for schools facing unusual pressures.
- Spending programs that would provide local districts with more authority.
- A special session of the legislature to ensure participation with the Affordable Care Act in January 2014.
- Re-evaluation of the Enterprise Zone Program and the Jobs Hiring Credit (“They aren’t working,” he said), and rethinking the California Environmental Quality Act.
- New tunnels to funnel water from the Sacramento River Delta, and measures to reduce climate change.
Read more about Governor Brown’s proposals here.