Gov. Jerry Brown said this afternoon that Senate leader Darrell Steinberg's decision to stop considering gubernatorial appointees in the wake of his budget veto was a "small price to pay" for his action.
"If I went along with that budget, then next year and the year after we'd be in the same damn mess, and I am committed to avoiding that," Brown told reporters in Blythe, where he touched down for the ceremonial groundbreaking of a solar power plant.
For the first time in his young administration, the Democratic governor is facing open criticism not only from Republicans, but from Democratic lawmakers who passed the spending plan he rejected one day ago. After questioning the governor's budget tactics Thursday, Steinberg is halting consideration of Brown's appointees.
Other Democrats complained, too. Brown described their reaction to his veto as "mild," though their frustration was on his mind.
"I came out here from our state Capitol at a time when lots of fur is flying, and lots of howls of execration: 'Oh no, you can't do that,'" Brown said. "Well yes, I did veto the budget, and yes, we are going to have fiscal discipline, and yes, we're going to be the world leader in solar energy and all the jobs that that can create."
Brown appeared with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and U.S. Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey on the sun-soaked site just west of the Colorado River. Specks of drifting sand clung to participants' suits.
The Blythe Solar Power Project is expected to create more than 1,000 jobs and generate enough electricity for 300,000 homes. It is the largest such project in the world.
Brown said the occasion was particularly significant coming "on the day that I had to veto the entire state budget for the first time in the history of California." He said it is an indication the state can "both exercise fiscal discipline and also give full vent to our imagination and make commitments to investments that create California jobs and deal with our energy needs."
It was hot outside, but Brown said no warmer than in Sacramento.
"And Sacramento is hot in more than climatological ways," he said.
Among a small group of protesters was Jesus Figueroa, who played a gourd and sang Lakota prison songs. He said the project would destroy significant geoglyphs, a claim Solar Trust of America, the company building the project, said is untrue.