The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

February 1, 2011
Jerry Brown, government downsizer

After his State of the State speech Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown took media questions. Bee colleague and Capitol Alert blogger Torey Van Oot passed along her notes from the scrum about what the governor said when asked whether he would make more "symbolic" cuts, like his cell phone recall or state vehicle executive order.

"I think streamlining the state is more than symbolic," Brown said. "There are agencies that can be merged and layers that can be eliminated and I'm working on that."

When will Brown detail those mergers and consolidations? If recent history serves, he'll do it when it gives him maximum political impact.

One of Brown's political strengths is his sense of timing. When he ran for governor last year, he defied calls within his own party to fire back early at Republican Meg Whitman's multimillion-dollar negative ad campaign. His eventual win was a political tortoise-and-the-hare story (with help from Whitman's "nannygate" debacle). Brown knew that in politics the finish is more important than the start.

Now he's up against Reeps who are insisting early on that Brown's tax extension plan is a no go. Dems aren't happy with his planned cuts.

But rather than getting bogged down in a word war (remember Schwarzenegger's famous "girlie man" remark?), Brown going back to his tortoise strategy. So look for more cost-cutting announcements to trickle out of the administration over the coming weeks as the governor seeks to burnish his cost-cutter credentials -- and pressure members of his own party and Republicans on the other side to leave their comfort zones.

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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