Here are some reactions to Gov. Jerry Brown's State of the State address.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari
Governor Brown may claim a California comeback, but the truth is that he has forgotten the millions of California families who are struggling. 24 percent of our fellow Californians live in poverty. Yet how many times did the Governor mention poverty in his 17-minute address? Not once. That is outrageous.
The state of the state is devastating for millions of Californians. Our schools are ranked 46th in the nation. Nearly 18 percent of Californians are out of work or stuck in part-time jobs. People don't want welfare. They want good jobs. Yet instead of doing the hard work of fixing these problems, Governor Brown is focused on touting record-high spending and building a crazy train that the state doesn't want and can't afford.
Let there be no doubt: The status quo is unacceptable and we can't let Governor Brown get away with it.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento
Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego
The Governor did a great job of reporting what we've done to improve the state's fiscal situation and telling us about the work that lies ahead. But I'm hoping that now we will create a greater vision for California in terms of and dealing with issues of poverty, educational achievement and creating opportunity for everyone.
We all agree that we've got to create more jobs, but we also have to create the capacity in individuals to be ready for those jobs. We can talk about the greatness of California - and it is a great state, no question, with Silicon Valley, our high tech industry and research institutions. But are average Californians ready to work in these industries? Probably not. We will need to focus on preparing our kids for these jobs now
I agree that it's important to give school districts flexibility, but we also have to focus on accountability. What happens when a school doesn't succeed? What happens when a school board doesn't properly use the funding? We need to make sure that funds specifically set aside for improving the academic performance of disadvantaged students are actually spent on closing the Achievement Gap.
Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles
Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar
I appreciate the Governor embracing Republican values when it comes to spending restraint, paying off our debts, and building a rainy day reserve. Those are policies that all Californians can support.
The Governor pointed out that California has added about one million jobs since 2010. That sounds like good news, but not enough of them help poor and middle class families. The Central Valley is hurting, the Inland Empire is hurting, and our rural areas are in decline. California's unemployment rate is still at nearly 9 percent; only five other states are worse off. That's why I'm disappointed the Governor hasn't laid out a plan to help California families that are still struggling to find jobs. We need to do much more to get all Californians the jobs they need.
With respect to establishing a real rainy day fund, I think that he should honor the promise to let voters weigh in this November on the bipartisan rainy day fund embraced in ACA 4. I believe this is a stronger and more effective rainy day reserve than what he has proposed.
Republicans have always been a voice for local control, and we were supporters of the local control funding formula to help our schools. But, I remain concerned about the lack of adequate funding for communities who are struggling with crime because of the Governor's local public safety realignment plan. We need more recidivism reduction programs and increased supervision of criminals.
There is much work to be done this year. Senate Republicans are ready to work on policies that move California forward and get more people back to work.
Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks
Today, Jerry Brown addressed the drought in California, but he failed to address the economic drought facing Californians.
If Jerry Brown has a surplus, he should return it to the people he took it from - the people of California. (referring to Prop. 30) Instead, he's giving pay increases to Union members while leaving regular, hardworking taxpayers out to dry.
With nearly 2 million people still out of work on Jerry Brown's watch, and 1 in 4 Californians living in poverty, Governor Brown has repeatedly failed to address how he intends to get the State back to work and return prosperity to California.
He's pitching high-speed rail and other high-dollar projects; instead, he should be paying down Pension liabilities, building a high-speed waterway, and highways his father built, in order to truly get our state back on track.
Instead, Jerry Brown has pitched a very rosy scenario. This State of the State address was more a stump speech and an unofficial launch for his re-election campaign than an honest assessment of the crisis that still faces most Californians.
Assemblyman Don Wagner, R-Irvine
The commitment from Governor Brown to reduce the debt is a message Californians want to hear. But, while it is encouraging that the Governor is urging 'fiscal restraint' I remain skeptical that a majority of Democrats in the Legislature share this vision. Governor Brown has work to do to convince them, and I will help in in whatever way I can.
I believe that making California more competitive for job creation - and not raising taxes - is the best way to increase revenue for the state. Many legislative leaders in Sacramento talk about the importance of job creation, but actions speak louder than words. Until the Legislature acts to reduce regulations and hold the line on taxes, California will continue to bleed jobs and opportunity to other states.
Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, R-O'Neals
Governor Brown today outlined his priorities for expanding California's recovery. While I agree with the Governor that fiscal responsibility must continue to be the order of the day, I hope that all members of the Legislature get the message. This unexpected surplus is not a green light for lawmakers to overspend. Now is the time to pay down debt and put money away in a rainy day fund.
Restoring the economy of rural California must also be an important focus. As the state's economy improves as a whole, there are still many hard-working people in the foothills that are struggling. Their plight has only been made worse by our current drought conditions, which has hurt families, farmers and small business owners alike. I am hopeful that the Legislature can come together this year around realistic solutions to end our water crisis and pro-jobs reforms to bring jobs back to my district and all of rural California.
Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville
I am pleased to see that Governor Jerry Brown's proposal strongly aligns with the California State Assembly's budget priorities. By instituting a rainy day fund, paying down the state's burdensome wall of debt, and supporting proposals that advance these goals, we can ensure that education and other vital services in California are protected from the volatile nature of today's economy.
Ensuring that Californians receive safe drinking water has been a priority for me since I was elected to serve in the California Legislature. I am pleased to see that this year Governor Brown has made safe drinking water for disadvantaged communities a priority in the budget. However, as we fine tune the water bond language, we must ensure that we address some of the most urgent drinking water needs that cannot be met through current funding sources such as expanding our storage capacity and funding flood prevention programs.
This year's budget proposal lays out a sound blueprint for strengthening our economic recovery while addressing issues that are important to working families. I anticipate that the legislature will work expeditiously to finalize another on-time balanced budget that will bring some much needed stability to the state of California.
Assemblyman Henry T. Perea, D-Fresno
It's clear Governor Brown has made water a priority, and should be applauded for his emphasis on the need for water storage and providing clean drinking water to disadvantaged communities, both critical to California and the Central Valley. The drought brings to light the importance of investing in California's water infrastructure. Going forward the legislature and all Californians must prioritize access to clean and reliable water.
Investment in our water infrastructure means we will have the mechanisms in place to capture and store water during wet years to avoid a water crisis during dry spells. The legislature has an obligation to ensure everybody; including our disadvantaged communities have access to clean drinking water.
With water becoming a top priority for all Californians, I am glad Governor Brown understands water is key to California's future. A reliable water infrastructure will continue to be at the top of my priority list.
Assemblyman Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga
Governor Brown continues to urge caution when it comes to increased spending and I couldn't agree more. A perceived budget 'surplus' that fails to take into account hundreds of billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities is no justification to commit our children and grandchildren to more debt. Efforts should instead refocus on getting unemployed Californians back to work and rejecting proposals that would further burden job creators, such as changes to taxpayer protections in Proposition 13.
But Democrats also cannot continue ignoring the dangers facing our communities in the wake of the Governor's failing public safety realignment law. With growing crime rates and increasingly overcrowded jails, Sacramento needs to take action now - not when it's too late.
Steve Chadima, SVP Communications & Director of California Initiatives at Advanced Energy Economy
Today, Governor Brown laid out a strong vision to help tackle many of the state's longstanding challenges. California is taking impressive strides toward its advanced energy goals, but more needs to be done to deliver on the promise of economic growth from better energy choices. We urge all elected officials to focus on consistent, effective implementation of the state's energy and transportation policies so that California remains a leader and delivers concrete results for our economy and environment.
Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills
California's toxic climate for job creation is the result of over regulation, over litigation, and over taxation. I believe that California can regain its competitive edge by charting a different course, one that encourages business by reducing the costs thrust upon them by the Legislature's current majority.
By working in good faith, across the aisle, Assembly Republicans are firm in their belief that optimistic talk about job creation can be turned into concrete action.
Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres
Today, Governor Brown spoke about many of the topics I believe must be addressed this year: the need for a water bond, increased investment in education and repaying our debt.
Especially during this drought emergency, we must invest in California's water system infrastructure. I am pleased that the Governor is going to work this year on helping get water where it is needed most. As we face the driest year in our state's history, water is my top concern and I look forward to working with the Governor and my colleagues in the Legislature on the water bond. More storage and greater access to clean water must be a priority.
Last year, I supported the Governor's Local Control Funding Formula. Our local school districts know best how to use their funds. In addition, by continuing to further this new way of funding, we even the playing field for all California students.
We also need to build a strong rainy day fund during surplus years and address our unfunded liabilities. It is a great disservice to Californians to use the temporary tax funds that we are currently bringing in on programs that will require ongoing funding. Fiscal discipline and spending restraint are crucial to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.
Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood
Thanks to the Governor and the work of the Legislature our state is on the road to a strong recovery. However, failure to address California's drought and ongoing water crisis threatens to undermine our hard-fought progress. We need to pass a water bond this year to fund the investments in water infrastructure that the Governor mentioned to alleviate the impact of the current drought, prepare better for the next drought, and spur shovel-ready job growth while protecting our state's vital agribusiness and food production sector. The Assembly has convened the most transparent process in crafting a fiscally responsible and earmark-free water bond proposal that deserves to be considered by the state's voters this year.
Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford
I applaud the governor on his call for fiscal discipline and his commitment to local control of our schools. It's encouraging that the governor mentioned the need to expand water storage and provide clean drinking water for our disadvantaged communities. I hope this is an indication of leadership, not delay, on a water bond that fully funds water storage on this November's ballot.
Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Riverbank
The Governor's message of fiscal prudence would be inspiring, if not for his persistence of High Speed Rail and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, (i.e. Delta tunnels). It is irresponsible to continue wasting taxpayer dollars on projects like High Speed Rail that have no viable business plan and no connection to real needs in the San Joaquin Valley.
The Governor should instead prioritize more immediate issues that have state-wide relevance, such as water storage. The most responsible and cost-effective solution to the state's water crisis is to ensure we have the means to capture and reserve water in wet years to prepare for dry years. Our economy, agriculture and northern and southern communities cannot thrive without a reliable water plan now and in the future.
Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Marysville
Water needs to be our top priority this year. We are looking at potentially the driest winter in 500 years. Reservoirs are drying up, farmers are losing their crops, and it's just getting worse. Our economy is reliant on an adequate and healthy water supply. We need to work with Governor Brown to find long-term solutions to ensure proper allocation and usage of water throughout the state.
I stand by Governor Brown's decision to guard that state's surplus. Now is not the time to spend any additional unexpected revenue, regardless of our budget surplus. Our state is finally making progress with the budget, and we must exercise caution and fiscal restraint to ensure we avoid the mistakes of the past. I agree with the Governor whole-heartedly when he said, 'those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.' We need to pay down our debt, and establish a solid rainy day fund that will help get us through future recessions.
Assemblyman Brian Nestande, R-Palm Desert
It is promising to hear the Governor reaffirm his commitment to education funding and debt reduction. Repaying the debt and ending budget gimmicks will free up vital funds for job-creating infrastructure projects that will help boost our economy and will eliminate the need to raid our education funds to pay for other state programs. This is something we have been fighting for in Sacramento and I commend the Governor for addressing these important issues.
Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana
I applaud the Governor's bold leadership and support his call for continued fiscal restraint. We enter 2014 with greater fiscal stability and modest economic expansion, but our work is not done. We must continue to address our long-term liabilities and pay down the Wall of Debt. Additional investments in education, health care, infrastructure and public safety are also critically needed.
I remain committed to working with to restore the promise of this great state.
Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento
The Governor's speech was rightly optimistic about California's future, while prudently considering the challenges we still face. The encouraging increase in jobs, budget surplus, affordable healthcare for all, education reforms, and positive outcomes of public safety realignment are something to celebrate. California is back.
Nonetheless, Californians must work together and pitch in to mitigate the impacts of the drought we now face. More needs to be done to restore access to justice for all Californians. We must also focus on vulnerable populations like foster children and youth from underserved communities to ensure that they have the opportunity to thrive. Their success is essential to the future prosperity of California.
George Runner, Board of Equalization member
Governor Brown provided a good executive summary of where California is now but with little direction for our future. He outlined many of California's problems, but did not propose tangible solutions.
I am pleased to hear Governor Brown's continued calls for fiscal discipline. But just as saving money in a rainy day fund is an important way to prepare for future economic downturns, additional water storage is vital to ensuring California is equipped for future droughts. I am disappointed Governor Brown did not provide a plan to deal with our current water shortage.
Governor Brown is a good cheerleader for California. The question is, will he stay strong when faced with a liberal Legislature that wants to increase government programs, taxes and regulations.
Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park
California has become synonymous with rebound and optimism. Turning budget deficits into reserves and budget cuts into modest programmatic growth, Governor Brown has led our great state to the fiscally sound position evident today.
The Governor continues to strike the appropriate balance between investing in education and social services, while adhering to his tenants of fiscal prudence and subsidiarity. His commitment to pay down debt, fulfill overdue funding deferments, and strengthen the rainy day fund will benefit California now and for years to come.
Still, our state faces great challenges. The peril of climate change and the emergence of a historic drought will require sacrifices and water conservation from all. Unpredictable weather patterns have increased the threat of sea level rise to our coasts, wild fires to our forests, scarcity to our snow pack, and salt water intrusion to our agricultural farm lands. I will continue my efforts on the Select Committee on Sea Level Rise and the Assembly Water Bond Working Group, and I pledge to work with various local and state government entities on ways to conserve water.
Over the past three years, Governor Brown and the Legislature have helped turn California around from the days of volatile revenues, budget gimmicks, and structural budget deficits. In turn, California now boasts a million new jobs since 2010, protections for the working class through minimum wage hikes, affordable and quality health coverage for some 625,000 Californians, new rights for our immigrant communities, and a new education funding formula that allocates dollars based on need.
The comeback is indeed remarkable, but will require diligence and perseverance to fully mend the damages of the Great Recession and rise to the challenges of an ever-changing world and climate.
Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Roseville
Everyone is worried about the drought, but I'm more worried about the jobs drought. We'll see rain again, but when will we see the end of this man-made jobs wasteland? California has to put job creation at the front of the agenda.
We need to deliver a budget that makes it clear that politicians have learned the lean-year lessons about reckless spending promises. Now is the time to pass a responsible budget that shows the people that government will not stand in the way of a further recovery.
A tidal wave of Obamacare cancellations will wash over the state this year as millions of people on small group plans lose their coverage. This will be a catastrophe for families everywhere and I hope the Governor is planning to take steps to help them. Covered California is busy making infomercials with Richard Simmons, so it will apparently fall to the Governor and the Legislature to manage the fallout of this ever-worsening policy disaster.
We should have a separate State of the State just to talk about water. Our reservoirs are puddles and the Sierra snowcaps in my district are nowhere to be seen. This is a crisis. We need a massive investment in new water storage and we need it now, not delayed by decades of environmental lawsuits or Delta Smelt deliberations. This is a growing state and our infrastructure needs to grow along with our people.
California has punched its way off the ropes and is on firmer footing than it has been in years. Unemployment is still far too high. Regulations are still too complex. Taxes are too far out of line with our competitor states. But I am optimistic that if we live up to the Governor's call for prudence, show common sense and practical restraint on government growth, our state will start to recapture some of the magic that has long set us apart.
Assemblyman Roger Hernández, D-West Covina
I commend Gov. Brown's efforts and relentless attitude in improving our economy. California has much potential to move forward and we must do everything to continue this path to greatness. California is a leader in the nation and in the world economy. Continuing to provide a world-class education, promoting job growth and investing in our future is of the utmost importance.
Gov. Brown's commitment to combating the water drought California currently faces is a step in the right direction to help our agricultural sector.
I look forward to working with Gov. Brown and the rest of my colleagues in a bi-partisan effort to continue solving California's issues in the near future.
Assembylwoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo
I praise the Governor's efforts to establish a meaningful rainy day fund to minimize the tremendous volatility in the budget that we have seen in recent decades. The huge swings in revenue have made it extremely difficult to sustain critical programs and services.
I was very pleased to hear the Governor's top priorities for dealing with the severe drought facing California are conservation and water storage. Conservation will have an immediate impact. Increased storage will provide more certainty over the long term and promote regional planning for water sustainability. Recharging our aquifers should be the first priority for storage as it is the easiest way to expand capacity.
In regards to education, I agree with the Governor that the only way to close the achievement gap and successfully implement the new Common Core State Standards will be to empower teachers and administrators to accomplish these goals. School staff members, with the active involvement of parents and the community, are uniquely positioned to understand and respond to the needs of the students in their schools. We must support them in their efforts to ensure that all students in California receive a high quality education so they have the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.
I look forward to working with the Governor and my colleagues in the Legislature in the year ahead to put these goals into action.
Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro
As California continues to recover following several years of devastating cuts to education, health and other important social services, I was encouraged to hear Governor Brown focus on growing the economy and creating jobs. I look forward to working collaboratively with the Governor and my legislative colleagues in the months ahead to ensure that our optimistic and bold vision for California becomes a reality.
In order to truly revitalize our economy long-term, we must continue to make the necessary investments in education--from early childhood through college. The Governor's budget a few days ago also highlighted this commitment and I certainly know that future generations of Californians and East Bay residents will benefit by prioritizing education and bolstering their ability to succeed following graduation and beyond.
Additionally, we must continue to transform California's transportation infrastructure. California is a large state with diverse transportation needs and certainly requires both traditional and emerging modes of transportation--including the million electric vehicles noted by the Governor--so that residents can continue to travel to and from work, school and other commitments in a timely and efficient manner.
I was particularly pleased that the Governor noted the critical importance of California's leadership in scientific and biotech innovation. We must continue to support those efforts, such as the BRAIN Initiative, which simultaneously strive to improve lives and generate high-paying jobs in our state.
We must now strive to maintain the forward fiscal momentum of the last few years so that all Californians may share in the economic successes of our state. I firmly believe that California's best years still lie ahead.
Bill Wagner, President of American Council of Engineering Companies California
While we applaud Governor Brown's broad vision for this great state and his focus on fiscal discipline, ACEC California and other business organizations continue to urge greater investment in infrastructure. The Governor acknowledges that we have a $65 billion infrastructure need. Now is the time to recommit ourselves to the priority of investing in transportation, water and other vital infrastructure systems. These investments are investments in our state's future and will create good jobs and help continue our current economic growth cycle.
Tom Torlakson, state schools superintendent
As Governor Brown made clear, California is poised for a tremendous leap forward, and nowhere is that more the case than in public education. The Local Control Funding Formula is by its nature a major victory for our students and their schools. It pushes decision-making closer to those students and their parents. It measures outcomes instead of whether the right dollars were put into the right categorical boxes.
It's an exciting time for education, from the new Common Core standards to modern assessments, from expanded access to education for our youngest learners to college and career readiness for our graduates.
I visit schools across the state. I see students hard at work. I see the teachers who do so much more than teach--who guide and inspire. I see principals and administrators who provide so much of the foundation for what happens in the classroom. And I know that Governor Brown's confidence in these educators as we move forward together is well-placed.
Jerome E. Horton, Board of Equalization member
California is finally emerging from its economic drought. The governor is right. Our attention must now be given to our thirsty state, and ways to manage and fairly distribute water to all parts of California.
Improvements in transportation should also be a priority, as well as paying down our debt.
It is gratifying to hear Governor Brown say he will be moving the state forward with regard to education, directing needed funds to the students who need it most -- our children in the poorest neighborhoods.
Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa
Having chaired the 2009 Legislative Conference Committee on Budget, when we made vicious cuts to services to balance our state budget, I appreciate the Governor's recognition of the hard work and sacrifices made by everyone to stabilize California's economic future.
I'm grateful that with Governor Brown's support, the North Bay is completing construction of SMART which will connect us to the planned high speed rail system. I appreciate the Governor's vision and leadership to reduce greenhouse gases and address climate change.
As an ardent defender of the justice system, I'm also hopeful the Governor will return the judicial branch to its proper co-equal status in our democracy. While we take advantage of the technological innovations that make California great, we must not leave our justice system in the 19th century. The courts administer our laws, support our businesses and protect our citizens and it would be a great tragedy to fail to rebuild the bedrock of our democracy during California's resurgence.
Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach
I agree with the governor on the need for fiscal restraint, as we should not be spending temporary tax dollars on never-ending programs that taxpayers cannot afford. Additionally, I would like to have seen the Governor address the need for real solutions to California's highest-in-the-nation personal income taxes, highest-in-the-nation poverty rates, and working toward paying down the massive unfunded pension liabilities within California's public retirement system.
As California's tax structure is over 70% dependent on income taxes, our state is vulnerable to serious potential deficits when the next recession occurs unless we take positive action to improve our business climate in California. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on strengthening our economy by advocating for our key industries where California has a global competitive advantage, such as international trade, high-tech and biotech, high-end manufacturing, agriculture, entertainment, and tourism.
Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego
The Governor has laid out a forward looking but strategic vision for our state's future. Achieving our state's comeback, as the Governor calls it, is due to disciplined work by the Governor and the Legislature as well as the support of the voters of California for the temporary taxes enacted through proposition 30. Our hard work and faith in the future has paid off.
Democrats in the Assembly agree that our state is on the rebound, but that it is also important for us to be cautious and conservative as we look at how best to use state resources now that the crisis caused by the great recession is behind us. The most important principles we should apply as we go forward are maintaining stability and investing in opportunity.
I am particularly pleased to see that Governor Brown has embraced the idea of putting the creation of a rainy day fund before the voters this November. We must not operate the state based upon a boom and bust mentality. The rainy day fund will insulate our state from the ups and downs of the economic cycle so that we can maintain a steady level of funding for programs, providing predictability and reliability for businesses and individuals, but also preventing over-spending in the good years by requiring that money be put into our savings account.
Another area of agreement is that we should make paying off the debt that we racked up during the great recession a priority. Number one on that list, as the Governor has suggested, should be restoring funds to our public schools that were deferred during the economic downturn. These deferrals represented cuts to the operating budgets of schools that had a direct impact on students in the classroom.
I also agree that investing in education is the best use of our resources because the payback comes in terms of prosperity and quality of life for every Californian. Additional funding for K-12 and public colleges and universities and a new formula to ensure extra resources for school districts with the highest number of struggling students will help ensure that each student has access to a high quality, affordable education to prepare them to be adults and workers in a global marketplace.
Water has been a scarce resource that California has struggled with since before we were a state. Even in good years, we have to balance the needs of agriculture, residents, and natural areas and wildlife. In a drought year such as the one we are currently experiencing, we all must cooperate and sacrifice to ensure that basic needs are met. I am committed to working with my colleagues in the Legislature to develop new approaches to water that ensures an adequate supply, even after we get past this year's drought.
Our water shortage due to a lack of rain is just one of the many important reasons we must continue to seriously address the impact of climate change. Air quality, sea level rise, threats to the cleanliness of our water, wildfires, and a host of other threats to our way of life are also a result of climate change. I will be working with my legislative colleagues to continue California's leadership on climate change.
Today, the Governor urged us to build for the future, not steal from it. I look forward to working with him and my colleagues in the Legislature to produce another on-time balanced state budget and to adopt legislative proposals that make that goal a reality.
Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber
While I applaud the Governor for his encouragement of fiscal discipline, today's speech should be consistent with the budget he proposed. In presenting his budget to the Legislature a week ago, the Governor allocated money to pay off a mere fraction of the massive $355 billion 'wall of debt.'
When the Governor stated that the Legislature should spend with 'great prudence' and then continues to pursue building the unaffordable High Speed Rail and the peripheral tunnels under the Delta, it undermines his advocacy for spending restraint.
Our state's economy is not recovering like the rest of the country. Approximately 1.6 million people are without jobs, and more continue to drop out of the state's workforce.
We must address the need to create more jobs for Californians who want to work.
California will continue to experience cyclical drought years. Conservation alone won't solve our state's water problems - and it hasn't for decades now. Conservation alone cannot sustain our state's economy.
We need above ground water storage, period.
The Governor also didn't address the unrehabilitated felons now in our communities. What should the government do with these criminals? These are critical policy issues that impact Californians. As the executive of the state, the Governor should have given us specific details of his plans to increase jail and prison space to house these repeat offenders under the terms ordered by federal court decisions.
Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis
I applaud the Governor's message that California must remain on a path of fiscal discipline, and share his desire to continue to pay down our state debt and build our state surplus. I also share the Governor's concern regarding the drought and the importance of taking immediate steps as well as investing in long-term strategies to better manage future droughts, which may be more frequent as a result of climate change. There are a number of noncontroversial actions and ready-to-go projects we can implement now, including wastewater recycling, groundwater storage, regional and local water supply development; delta ecosystem restoration and stronger levees to improve water delivery. Of course, the simplest and most immediate part of the solution is for all Californians to improve our own water conservation practices, as well as making the investments in the most efficient technologies for both urban and agricultural users.
Restore the Delta
In his State of the State address, Governor Brown said, "We need to move forward with progress on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan."
Governor Brown's plan to build two forty-foot tunnels under the Delta, at a total cost of $60 billion with interest and operation expenses, will not add one drop of additional water to the system.
There is a better way to manage our water. First, we need to export a safe yield of water from the Delta without repeatedly depleting the watershed. Second, we need to reinforce levees to ensure that the water that can be shared from the Delta is secure for all Californians. Third, we need to retire drainage-impaired agricultural lands on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. This will ultimately be cheaper than building the peripheral tunnels, and it will end the cycle of poor water management decisions made by state officials to enrich a few hundred corporate agribusinesses. Last, we need to put unemployed Californians back to work by investing in smaller local water projects throughout the state that will actually create new water. Independent reports on water conservation projects show that recycling, groundwater clean-up, and conservation programs will put twice as many people to work for each $1 million spent than a big project like the peripheral tunnels.
Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Twain Harte
When the Governor said 'We will build for the future, not steal from it' he could have been talking about any of the problems that face California. The future is ignored when we do nothing about high unemployment, when we burden our kids with a huge debt, and when we ignore basic infrastructure needs. Now, saddled with an archaic water system, crumbling roads, and soaring pension obligations. we have little choice but to focus our limited dollars on the basics.
I was particularly happy to see the Governor draw attention to the water crisis and our need for long term solutions. I look forward to working with him on key issues like water storage and job creation.
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco
As Chairman of the Assembly Public Safety Committee and Co-Chair of the Select Committee on Justice Reinvestment, I was particularly interested in what the Governor had to say about prisons and realignment. I have been a strong backer of the concept of realignment, including working to protect its gains in committee and on the Assembly floor. However, I also believe we can go much further and make additional progress in this area.
As we realign toward the local level, we can do more to make sure that locals not only have the resources, but pursue the best practices. That way, those who have been incarcerated will have a supported re-entry into communities that will not only let them succeed and stay out of prison, but will make us safer. This is one of the things that Justice Reinvestment is focused on, and it will require model programs - government and community-based programs - being repeated across the state. We will not only eliminate unconstitutional crowding this way, but we will save money.
Likewise, I would like to see some more imaginative thinking on our approach to sentencing. This is a very difficult topic, but one which can produce big rewards. It's time to examine the failures of overly harsh sentencing. If longer sentences made for safer streets, California would have some of the lowest crime rates on earth. Marijuana is just one problem area. President Obama recently identified it as an area where the punishments being issued are not only excessive, but unevenly applied. Governor Brown has also, in his budget, identified split-sentencing as an approach to deal with jail crowding and offender re-entry.
Finally, we have to look at juvenile justice and ending the so-called schools-to-prisons pipeline. We have to support young people, especially those at society's margins, so that they can stay in school. We can only do that if we work to blunt economic, social and law enforcement pressures to put them into cells.
I look forward to working with the Governor this year to make some of these things a reality.
Pasquale Romano, CEO of ChargePoint
We applaud Governor Brown for his continued commitment to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the development of the electric vehicle industry in California. California has made a dramatic economic comeback thanks to the leadership of the Governor, and EVs have also had an incredible comeback during this same time period. There are now over 5,200 charging ports in California and 20,000 electric vehicles, and as the Governor said in his State of the State address, we are well on our way to over 1 million EV vehicles statewide. As more individuals shift to driving EVs, it is important that municipalities and businesses install charging stations to accommodate drivers and employees. ChargePoint is ready and committed to fulfill the state and nation's charging infrastructure needs.
Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley
Governor Brown's State of the State address struck an important balance between acknowledging the fiscal challenges faced by our state while also maintaining a long-term focus on improving education and job creation in California. I applaud the Governor for addressing the need for responsible, prudent spending while also emphasizing the importance of continued investment to a solid rainy day fund.
While I have the utmost respect for my Governor, we do not see eye to eye on how to properly protect and restore the Delta region. Governor Brown's water strategy does not create any new water to benefit Californians on a statewide scale, nor does it recognize or protect the needs of the people who actually live, work, and play in the Delta. The proposed Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) severely threatens the Delta's environmental health, agricultural vitality, economic sustainability, and communal livelihood; it is not a sound plan for the Delta, or California.
Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose
It is great that California is on its way back and Gov. Jerry Brown and the people of California deserve credit for turning things around from high deficits and budget.
But for too many, jobs are still hard to find and families are still struggling in poverty. We need to make 2014 the year of jobs, and I will do everything I can to urge the governor to make that his top priority.
Bill Magavern, policy director at Coalition for Clean Air
Governor Brown's commitment to electric vehicles will, with the cooperation of the Legislature, translate into cleaner air and reduced oil dependence for all Californians.
Bahram Fazeli, policy director at Communities for a Better Environment
We are grateful that Governor Brown highlighted the impacts of climate change in his address with the expressed need to aggressively reduce our consumption of fossil fuel in transportation. We believe that the need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuel in all sectors, including transportation, is urgent and possible, and we look forward to working with the governor's office and the Legislature to create an equitable and effective system in putting one million electric vehicles on the road.
Michelle Kinman, clean energy advocate at Environment California
California has a critical opportunity--and responsibility--to head off the worst impacts of climate change on local communities. We look forward to working with the Governor on his plan to put California in the driver's seat on clean, electric vehicles.
Vien Truong, environmental equity director at the Greenlining Institute
We are strongly encouraged that the governor not only recognized the importance of cutting our gasoline use and putting a million electric vehicles on the road, he pointed out the crucial role that immigrants and communities of color can play in that effort. We must move ahead with policies that put clean vehicles within reach of all Californians, regardless of income, race or neighborhood.
Roland Hwang, transportation program director at Natural Resources Defense Council
The days of fossil fuel-powered vehicles in California are numbered. With Governor Brown's unequivocal support and growing consumer demand, California's cars, trucks, and buses are going electric. Powered by clean and increasingly renewable energy, this growing fleet is cleaning the air in communities exposed to dangerous pollution. Governor Brown continues to be a climate leader by supporting electric vehicles and we will work with him to continue finding solutions to the problem that will define our generation.
John Kabateck, Executive Director of National Federation of Independent Business, California
Governor Brown is smart to be fiscally prudent and we urge the Legislature to do the same. Proposition 30 was temporary - and some reports show that it might not have been necessary, but the Legislature and Governor need to be vigilant to make sure that spending isn't out of control.
Healthcare reform needs to be responsible and give Californians hope and certainty - early accounts of rollout have an already fragile Main Street on edge even more, so we hope Covered California and the Administration make sure small businesses are not forced into taking on new costs, mandates or requirements for which they have no resources or ability. Otherwise, we all lose, including the employees of our small businesses.
Every big business in California began as a small business. We hope that this year the Governor and Legislature make sure that 99.2% of our business community - small business - is not marginalized or left in the dust while big guys get all the breaks.
Eric C. Bauman, Los Angeles County Democratic Party Chair
Today, Governor Jerry Brown reaffirmed his commitment to put California back on track. As we make progress toward recovery and the restoration of economic stability, we must make sure that we invest in our common future and safeguard critical services with a robust rainy day fund. We applaud and thank the Governor's excellent leadership in moving California forward, and urge Republican legislators to work together with their Democratic colleagues on behalf of all Californians.
Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno
I think what we heard today was the first opening reelection speech by this Governor. This was a very political speech that basically patted himself and this Legislature on the back for a lot of rosy turnaround in the State of California.
Assemblyman Patterson expressed disappointment in Governor Brown's failure to address that California is continually ranked among the worst states in the nation in which to do business.
I did not come away from the speech with a feeling that this Governor really does understand that there's a whole set of regions in the state of California that aren't rising and flourishing and I hope he would wake up to that fact.
Californians pay the highest taxes in the nation. If the state really does have a surplus, I wish the Governor was as eager to return it to the people as he is to spending it all.
Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont
California is moving forward and we are not turning back. We've had three years of on-time, balanced budgets with a fourth on the way, and we are adding jobs, investing in our schools and universities, and building a rainy day fund.
In terms of education, we have worked with the Governor to reform our K-12 school finance system, restored more local control and targeted more funds to close the achievement gap for English-as-a-Second Language and low-income students. We also passed the Middle Class Scholarship Act to make higher education more accessible and affordable for students.
There are still challenges ahead. We have to be careful with the temporary surpluses that we are experiencing, but there are areas where it's important to restore some of the cuts caused by the Great Recession. For example, the Governor is proposing $105 million more for our courts. I would like to see a larger restoration to ensure that courtrooms stay open so people can resolve their legal issues as soon as possible. We rely on a fully functioning court system to protect our constitutional rights and that requires keeping the doors open.
Assemblyman Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova
I am very happy in the fiscal responsibility Governor Brown has shown in using our budget surplus to relieve our State's debt while focusing funding towards build up programs that will do a better job to uplift our local communities and neighborhoods.
During my service as a councilmember and Mayor for the City of Rancho Cordova, my colleagues and I faced many financial constraints. During those times, we kept our focus on programs that made fiscal sense and made our city a great place to live. We kept our City's debt low, focused on funding our most important projects first, and made the right choices for the long-term health of our community.
Today, I invited Citrus Heights Mayor Mel Turner, and Rancho Cordova Mayor Dan Skoglund, to join me for the address. As they can attest, making the right choices is hard, especially when you have groups of constituents who need help and are faced with great hardships. Choosing short-term gains over long-term progress may feel good, but it is rarely in the best interest of our community as a whole.
The Governor struck the right tone today, but we have a lot of work ahead to keep California's economy moving forward. Like Governor Brown, I believe the best way to maintain our stability and provide future opportunities is to pay down our debt, build up our reserves, and invest in jobs, education and local communities.
I applaud Governor Brown for his leadership during these times. Paying down our State's financial liabilities and putting money away into a rainy day fund is a hard choice, especially when doing so mean other programs will continue to go underfunded. But, this also means our State will have a stronger financial standing, and secure sources of funding for critically important programs in the years to come.
Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance
The Governor's State of the State Address combined a positive vision for California with a prudent approach to state spending. I share the Governor's commitment to responsible governance, including his proposals to pay down California's "Wall of Debt" and the establishment of a healthy rainy day reserve. By adopting these measures, California will become far less vulnerable to the state's volatile revenue streams and move toward long-term economic stability.
I also commend the Governor for his continued work on reforms to school funding and the state's criminal justice system as well as a solid strategy to combat air quality. I agree with the notion that fiscal restraint should not come at the cost of building a better future for our children.
As the Governor pointed out, with a million new jobs since 2010 and a sizable budgetary surplus, California is definitely on a comeback. However, there is still a lot of work to be done. Addressing California's mounting pension liabilities, saving for leaner economic times and investing wisely in public education and infrastructure will break the boom and bust patterns of past budgets and guide us on our path to even greater prosperity.
Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles
Joshua Pechthalt, President of the California Federation of Teachers
We are pleased with the Governor's acknowledgement that California is back on its fiscal feet, in part due to the changes created by Propositions 25 and 30, two efforts that the California Federation of Teachers fought very hard to achieve. However, the future of our state depends on quality public education for our students. While we applaud the Governor's bold effort to put more money into our neediest communities through the Local Control Funding Formula, much more needs to be done to improve our schools. Sadly our schools rank near the bottom in key indicators compared to other states. California's schools don't have nurses, librarians or mental health professionals providing essential services to our students. We must address these glaring inequities or we run the real risk of creating a generation of kids who lag behind their peers because they don't have the tools to succeed in school.
Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara
Dr. Paul Song, executive chairman of the Courage Campaign
With unprecedented surpluses brought about by Prop 30, we must ensure that we are using those dollars as they were intended, to restore funding to education and vital services. The only real way to deal with California's long-term debt obligations is to grow our economy, and the only way we can do that is by investing in the people and institutions that make California great.
We are dismayed by the cuts to health and human services that remain in Gov. Brown's budget, despite the promises made during the 2012 campaign. Spending some of the surplus on the important needs that face Californians everyday is not an unnecessary indulgence, but a crucial investment. California needs a budget that first and foremost invests in our communities, families, and kids rather than obsessing over the debt. We urge Gov. Brown to use some of the State's surplus to grow the economy by making California a leader in education -- including universal Pre-K for all our children.