Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

Maybe the annual State of the State address "tends to be a benchmark that's more easily remembered over the years for historians and reporters," as Gov. Jerry Brown's adviser Steve Glazer told Bee colleague David Siders the other day.

But benchmark or not, lawmakers and stakeholders were paying close attention as Brown spoke for 14 minutes and 23 seconds today, comparing his quest for a June special election with the fight for democracy in Egypt and Tunisia and saying it was "unconscionable" to block a special election.

How did it play? What are they saying? Find out after the jump. Additional statements may be sent to mmassimino@sacbee.com. They will be added as they come in.

DEMOCRATIC LAWMAKERS AND OFFICIALS

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento:

"The Governor's speech was quintessential Jerry Brown - no frills and pointedly honest with Californians about what needs to be done. Democrats are willing to step up and make the level of cuts he proposes, but I don't think anyone really wants a budget of $25 billion in all cuts. Let the people decide. Giving people the right to vote is about as American as John Adams and apple pie. Democracy doesn't get more basic than that. Let's work together, get this fiscal crisis behind us and start rebuilding California."

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles:

"Governor Brown's state of the state was refreshing in its candor. His budget proposal contains many difficult choices, but his proposal is balanced and is worthy of serious consideration by every member of the Legislature. I think he made a very strong argument today, and I'm hopeful his speech will help us build the consensus we need to move forward in terms of getting our finances under control and making the right investments to create quality jobs in California."

Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro, D- Arcata:

"The key phrase in the governor's speech was, 'the time for delay and denial is past.' We can't put it off anymore. We have to make cuts and we have to make them quickly, and we have to do them on a bipartisan basis if we are going to restore the public's confidence."

Sen. Mark Leno, chairman, Senate Budget Committee:

"Over the coming weeks we will examine and debate the governor's budget proposals in Committee and in the public domain. It will also be critical to get voter input on our negotiated solutions. When so much is at stake, it is indefensible to silence voters by denying them a say in California's future."

Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Woodland Hills, chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee:

"Restructuring California is an opportunity to transform the state we love into a better place. All of us have a stake in the outcome. We must rise to the occasion, work together, and change California."

Sen. Ellen M. Corbett, D-San Leandro:

"This governor is being honest with the Legislature and the voters. We can no longer pretend the state can right its ship without serious action."

Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael:

"Governor Brown struck the right tone tonight by conveying both the gravity of our fiscal challenge, and the tremendous upside for California if the Legislature can come together and get this done. ... Governor Brown is charting California's comeback, and he knows something about comebacks."

Assemblyman Henry T. Perea, D-Fresno:

"Governor Brown has been very frank about the problems facing our state. There
are more tough times ahead as we work together to make services more efficient and effective."

Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto:

"Governor Brown's remarks today were a long overdue dose of reality. The Governor and the public rightfully expect the Legislature to step up and make the hard choices necessary to put the state on a sound financial footing. When the Governor called on us for a combination of 'vision and discipline', he struck the right note."

Assemblyman Mike Eng, D-Monterey Park:

"The Assembly and the Governor both want the same thing--a California that works. That means making sure more Californians have good jobs and making sure we have government services that are efficient and effective."

Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis:

"Governor Brown's back-to-basics tone matches these somber times. I commend him for leading by example in reducing spending and calling on the Legislature to let the people decide. At the same time, however, I believe that the cuts we do make should be based on certain core principles, including keeping reductions furthest away from the poorest and most vulnerable, avoiding 'one-size-fits-all' and 'across-the-board' cuts, and preventing cost-shifts that leave federal monies on the table. We must also stand against wholesale elimination of programs that we all know will ultimately save California money."

Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D- San Francisco:

"This speech provided me with further confidence that voters made the right choice last November. The Governor is rolling up his sleeves and has provided the legislature with a gimmick-free, long term plan, and it's our job to provide voters with the choice. Denying a vote would be denying democracy to the people of California."

Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont:

"The reality is there aren't any quick fixes or silver bullets to get us out of this mess. We need to cushion the blow for those families who have already suffered the most from the recession, and we need to stimulate job growth. We can do that by becoming more competitive in manufacturing, putting people to work to modernize our facilities and make them more energy efficient, and by investing in our universities to advance our biotech industries."

Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles:

"I think it was a good mix of honesty and optimism... The governor made an appeal to things I think every member of the Legislature certainly understands and that's out conscience and our constituencies. I would hope that members of this body would vote their conscience but I think also his point about constituencies was very important. Members of the Legislature have a decision to make: our our constituencies the special interest groups and someone that made us sign a pledge at some point in our career, or are our constituencies the residents of the state of California.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco:

"The tax extension measures for the special election are a start towards restoring the state's economic health and voters should be able to decide the state's future direction for themselves rather than allowing a minority of Republicans starve the state of cash because of an outdated and irrelevant political ideology. In addition to the tax extensions, we must also explore basic revenue enhancements like an oil severance tax. Inexplicably, California is the only state in the nation that does not charge oil companies a fee to extract oil. Only by considering all of our revenue options, including reforming Proposition 13, will we be able to break California's persistent deficit cycle which is crippling the state's ability to function."

Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park:

"We are finally discussing California's budget deficit in a framework that will deliver a budget that is balanced and on time. The Governor's call for involving the people in these decisions through a June ballot vote is appropriate and democratic in its approach."

Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis:

"I was pleased the Governor remained focused on the budget, and on how any long-term budget solution will require making government more efficient and accountable. It will require both vision and discipline. Ultimately, our path forward to a more prosperous state depends on a new approach that rewards innovation. He gets that. As tough as this budget is, it is also our best opportunity ever to repair a broken and outdated system of governance to provide services to the taxpayer at a better value.

Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento:

"The governor certainly laid out the challenge we had for our budget but also painted a positive vision of the future if we can just come together and resolve this challenge. ... I certainly agree with the governor that the voters have to be involved in making some of the decisions. It can't just be here in the Legislature."

Assemblyman Marty Block, D-San Diego:

"I thought this was a breath of fresh air compared to the recent Schwarzenegger speeches. This governor is clearly engaged and he not only challenged Democrats to make cuts, tough cuts, but challenged Republicans to kind of put up or shut up. What is your plan? Don't just be negative, don't just criticize and let the people speak. I'm so puzzled as to why my Republican colleagues don't want to put a measure on the ballot"

REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS AND OFFICIALS

Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway:

"We must provide essential services, but we must do so with efficiency and frugality. We must cut spending. And we must do it now. The people have made it clear: They don't want to pay higher taxes. Voters have rejected every tax increase on the last two statewide ballots. It's time for Sacramento to finally to listen to the people. Republicans stand united as the only line of defense for California taxpayers. We believe the best solution to help close our deficit is not by raising taxes, but by creating private sector jobs. That is done by lifting regulations and by reducing frivolous lawsuits. ... We must also rein in soaring public pension costs and make government programs run more cost-effectively."

Sen. Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo:

"Trying to create a moral equivalency between supporting his plan and freeing oppressed masses in the Middle East I thought was a bit of a stretch. There may be, in fact, a third way that talks about some of the issues that are more uncomfortable for him, including pension reform, tax reform and regulatory reforms that have some teeth."

Ron Nehring, chairman, California Republican Party:

"Instead of using his considerable political capital to propose bold and serious reforms to collective bargaining and California's unsustainable pension system, Jerry Brown will blow it all by campaigning for a tax increase the voters rejected just two years ago. We are determined to fight this unaffordable tax hike, no matter how many ways the Democrats try to soft sell it. Should the Governor ever get around to embracing the serious, structural reforms our state needs, we'll be equally supportive in those efforts."

Sen. Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga:

"When you try to modify some of the entitlement programs, because of the way it's been written, they don't allow us to modify them. And therefore you agree to things today and then you find out you can't make the cuts. ... I believe that what you're going to have to do is terminate a lot of these programs, and you can rebench them. You can go back and take a look at the problems because if you can't modify them and have that stand legal muster, then you terminate them, you cancel them and you create a better program that better fits what you're trying to accomplish."

Assemblyman Jim Silva, R-Huntington Beach:

"Unfortunately, Governor Brown is simply re-hashing old ideas. The people have voted on these very taxes as recently as 2009. The economy has not improved since then and Californians are in no mood to see their taxes raised again. Instead, we need to listen to what the people are saying, which is 'live within your means.' We need to set real priorities and not assume all programs are equal. The state needs to take an honest look at what core functions it can actually provide and then reform or eliminate the remainder."

Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark:

"The Democrats in Sacramento just keep coming back for more. They need to maximize the dollars that do come to Sacramento and just deal with it. The Governor and legislative Democrats are throwing around nothing but hyperbole and scare tactics to justify doubling your car tax and raising your sales and income taxes by extending the largest tax increase in California history. There are families across California who wish they could go out to eat more often or buy a new car, but understand during these tough economic times, they have to budget their money and only spend within their means. California government should have to do the same."

Assemblyman Brian Nestande, R-Palm Desert:

"While I commend the Governor for proposing $8 billion in real cuts, the voters of California rejected every statewide tax increase in both the May 2009 and November 2010 elections. We need to respect what the voters have said time and again and make additional cuts to get out of our financial mess. We need to eliminate job-killing mandates, regulations and taxes and our economy will turn around."

Sen. Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Niguel:

"It is absurd that our Legislature would even consider asking Californians to pay $60 billion in additional taxes by leading the public to believe that those increases would solve our state's fiscal problems. ... Tonight, Governor Brown glossed over pension reform - uttering only a few words on the topic and offering no substantive proposals. Until we have implemented reforms that get our unfunded pension liability under control, it is unconscionable for our Legislature to discuss raising taxes on hardworking Californians."

Sen. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale:

"There are areas where I agree with Governor Brown, such as reducing the size and scope of government, but I believe he fundamentally misunderstood the will of the people if he expects them to increase taxes. I am committed to work with the governor to find real reforms in the way the state does business and expand opportunities for private industry to take over, at a cost savings, some of government's traditional activities."

Assemblyman Donald P. Wagner, R-Irvine:

"The voters of California rejected every statewide tax increase in both the May 2009 and November 2010 elections. The best way to get California's finances back on track is to cut spending, cut regulations, and cut taxes."

Assemblyman Brian W. Jones, R-Santee:

"We can talk all day about increasing taxes and cutting programs, but we will never balance the budget on cuts and tax increases alone. The only effective and truly reliable way to get California back on a solid track is to grow the economy by rolling back burdensome environmental regulations, eliminating red tape and putting a stop to duplicative paperwork and agencies. We must pass laws based on scientific or economic evidence - not ideology or fraudulent data.

Sen. Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach:

"Government needs to be smaller and more efficient, not larger. Simply raising taxes to cover the skyrocketing costs of running the bureaucracy is counterproductive."

Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber:

"Governor Brown gave a short speech that was long on rhetoric but contained few specifics. I would have liked to have heard more about his plans for creating jobs or reforming our budget process or reforming our pension system, but sadly, this was not included. I also reject the notion that we need to have a 'Legislative Check-in' with the voters and ask them to increase our taxes. We have already had two 'Legislative Check-ins' back in May of 2009 and November of 2010, and both times the voters had the wisdom to overwhelmingly reject new taxes."

Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills

"Governor Brown's speech tonight touched on many topics but what I didn't hear was how he plans to tame the monsters he unleashed during his first two terms, the neglect of state infrastructure, a hostile business climate of over regulation, the ascension of the public employee's unions and an out of control pension system.

Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Linda:

"I appreciate Governor Brown's intent to get our financial house in order. California's budget crisis is real and unprecedented, and we can no longer afford to kick the can down the road. The time for action is now, and I propose that we take a hard look at all spending and find ways to tighten our belts like so many Californians have had to do during these tough times. Forty-five billion dollars in taxes are not the solution to our problems. Job creation needs to remain our top priority this year. As Governor Brown mentioned, California must strive to once again become a leader in innovation and prosperity. The best way for us to accomplish this is by supporting job growth right here in our state."

Jon Fleischman, FlashReport publisher, vice chairman, South, California Republican Party:

"Despite Governor Brown's tremendous oratory skills, it doesn't change the fact that his proposed budget relies on the dubious proposition that California voters, in a recession with double-digit unemployment, are going to raise taxes on themselves. Californians have rejected the last seven efforts to raise taxes at the ballot box. The conventional wisdom is that Brown needs to have tax increases rejected (either by failure to get them on the ballot, or failure of them at the ballot) so that he has leverage to go to the state public employee union bosses, and extract the kind of concessions necessary to really pare down the size and scope of state government. Unfortunately, we don't have time for this Brown/Union "kabuki dance" to play out. The Governor needs to lay out a realistic budget now, one that does not presume that Californians will agree to tax state government out of its over-spending-created crisis."

George Runner, member, Board of Equalization, District 2:

"I'm glad Governor Brown is planning to make government more efficient and attempt to put California's financial house in order. But the Governor has it backwards. He thinks balancing the budget will solve our jobs problem. We actually need to solve our jobs problem to solve our budget problem. The Governor's proposed tax hikes will only kill jobs and make our budget problems worse. ... Instead of raising taxes, the Governor should issue an executive order immediately freezing all new taxes, fees and regulations that hurt jobs."

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Chris McKenzie, executive director, League of California Cities:

"The Governor said his intention is to make California a leader again in job creation, yet his proposal to abolish redevelopment will kill more than 300,000 private sector jobs annually. Killing redevelopment will provide very little financial benefit to the State or any local entities. ... We believe the Governor is presenting a false choice: California can and must have a strong economy AND adequately fund our schools, healthcare services and other State obligations. In fact, economic growth and job-creation will provide the State the revenues we need to restore our core services."

John Shirey, executive director, California Redevelopment Association:

"The Governor emphasized the citizens' right to vote and the need for a legislative 'check-in' with the voters. Yet, just three months ago, the voters overwhelmingly voted to stop state raids of local funds, including redevelopment funds. ... The proposal to kill redevelopment is also unworkable and illegal. There are serious constitutional and practical issues that cannot be overcome. You simply cannot effectively wave away the legally responsible party for tens of billions of dollars in contracts and bonded indebtedness without destroying the creditworthiness of the state and local governments or triggering a torrent of lawsuits."

LABOR UNIONS

Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer, California Labor Federation:

"We agree with the governor that the current budget crisis can't be solved without a balanced approach, and the voters deserve to be heard. We fully support his call to bring to voters an extension of existing taxes to save our schools from even more devastating cuts. ... Still, Brown's budget proposal falls short in several key areas. Some of the cuts he's proposed would disproportionately impact the most vulnerable among us. ... While we're pleased to hear Brown calling for a new era of innovation, it's vital that we go further in the quest for jobs. And while the goal of realigning government so that it's closer to the people is a good one, it must be implemented in a way that won't hinder job growth or erode the quality of services."

David Kieffer, executive director, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) California:

"The only choices before us are painful ones, and Governor Brown is right: the only way to fix this mess is through a balanced approach - making more painful cuts and maintaining existing revenues in the June special election. If we don't seize the opportunity now to come together and get California's fiscal house in order, the cuts will be twice as large, jeopardizing our recovery and our ability to restore investments in schools, colleges and services that made California a beacon of opportunity for our parents and grandparents. We agree with the Governor that our retirement security must be sustainable; we support reforms to end abuses such as spiking, double-dipping, and wildly inflated managerial pensions."

GOVERNMENT REFORM GROUPS

California Forward:

"Californians believe that California can be governed well and want a path forward - one right step after another. Governor Brown's honest talk and acknowledgment that we are going to have to make tough choices is correct. That's why we believe California needs a workout plan: In three years, honest accounting can restore trust. In five years, a culture of performance can generate better results. In seven years Californians will see strong returns - better jobs, better communities, better futures. In short, this plan must serve as a commitment by elected officials to make public programs work best where they are needed most."

HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES

Carmela Castellano-Garcia, president and CEO, California Primary Care Association

"We strongly agree with Governor Brown that it is only by extending revenues that we can produce a budget that does not devastate the lives of millions of Californians... All Californians and their representatives must also fully realize that the cuts contained in this proposed budget will pale in comparison to the type of draconian cuts that will have to be made if the revenue extension proposals are not passed by the voters

COMMUNITY GROUPS

Samuel S. Kang, general counsel, Greenlining Institute:

"Restoring California's prosperity requires action to stem the tide of foreclosures - even to the extent of declaring a state of emergency if that's what it takes -- bolster small businesses, and stop the devastating effects of health insurance rate increases. We also strongly urge the governor and legislature to look into untapped revenue sources such as an oil severance tax in order to reduce devastating budget cuts."

BUSINESS GROUPS

Allan Zaremberg, President and CEO California Chamber of Commerce

"We share the Governor's priorities of solving the state's budget crisis and improving our economy. We look forward to working with Governor Brown and the Legislature to achieve these important goals for our state."

REPRESENTATIVES OF OTHER PARTIES

Laura Wells, Green Party candidate for governor 2010:

"There is no reason California is in the financial state it's in, other than the fact that our state government continues to practice prosperity for the richest of the rich, and austerity for the rest of us. The richest 1 percent captured a huge portion of economic growth in past years; they should get the austerity now."

VIDEO BONUS: Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom give their takes on the speech:



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