"California is on the mend," said Gov. Jerry Brown in his State of the State speech. (Photo: Justin Short/Governor's Office)
If there's one takeaway from Governor Jerry Brown
's 2012 State of the State address, it may be this: Brown faces the unique task this year of preaching both boldness and austerity... all at the same time.
The governor's roughly 20 minute speech before a joint session of the Legislature was a creative cocktail that blended a defense of his tax plan, the state's need for big thinking, and -- at times, it seemed -- the very reputation of his native California.
"Contrary to those declinists, who sing of Texas and bemoan our woes, California is still the land of dreams," said Brown before rattling off a list of what makes the Golden State one of a kind.
Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor calls Governor Brown's assumptions about tax revenues "a little bit optimistic." But how much is too much? (Photo: KQED/John Myers)
Governor Jerry Brown
's quest to have voters approve a multi-million dollar tax increase is key to his plan for balancing the state's books. But might the uncertainty of winning that election force deep spending cuts now by officials who will decide to, instead, assume the worst?
That scenario is one that lawmakers at state Capitol should consider carefully, urges the Legislature's independent budget analyst.
"Numbers don't lie," said McCarthy in pointing out several recent analyses critical of California's plans for high speed rail. (Photo: KQED/John Myers)
For the man whose Central Valley hometown is supposed to be an anchor point in the first construction phase of high speed rail, Rep. Kevin McCarthy
seems intent on doing everything he can do block the project.
And given McCarthy is the third highest ranking member of the GOP congressional leadership, he may be able to do a lot.
"I think it's a bad investment," the House majority whip on Monday afternoon during a wide-ranging interview in Sacramento with a group of Capitol reporters.
We may complain that there's no rest for the weary, but political junkies would be disappointed if the tasty morsels of news came to an end with the unveiling of a new state budget. Right?
If your answer is yes, then consider these items coming soon to a newscast near you.
"We are in a box," said Gov. Brown of the state's budget woes. (Photo: KQED/John Myers)
The unveiling of a governor's state budget every January is an annual, and well rehearsed, ritual: budget decisions are made in late December, budget goes to the printer, gubernatorial staffers privately brief some stakeholder groups (some who leak to the press), governor calls a news conference.
Yeah. So much for the playbook. On Thursday afternoon, after a copy of his proposal somehow was uploaded to a state website (oops), Governor Jerry Brown quickly summoned reporters and offered up the entire 2012-13 blueprint -- one that pegs the deficit at $9.2 billion and includes some major changes and cuts to health and human services.
"There are superfluous projects that are included in that water bond," says Assembly Speaker John Perez. (File Photo: Getty/Justin Sullivan)
As the Legislature returns to Sacramento, the leader of the lower house is sounding confident but cautious on some of the more challenging issues in year ahead.
And so the headlines from an interview with Assembly Speaker John Perez in his Capitol office: shrink November's massive state water bond, keep high speed rail on track, be cautious on the budget, find an alternative to local redevelopment agencies.
Will this artist's depiction of high speed rail in California come to pass? A new report raises questions. (Image: CA High Speed Rail Authority)
A panel of independent reviewers says that without more certainty on funding and operations, any start to construction of a high speed rail system "represents an immense financial risk to the state of California."
The new report is further proof that 2012 will be the most important year yet in the debate over the ambitious but costly bullet train system.
The ruling from the California Supreme Court means that, absent legislative intervention, local redevelopment agencies must close their doors.
In a ruling that is no doubt sending shock waves through city halls across California, the state Supreme Court has ruled that only half of a state budget proposal diverting redevelopment dollars is legal. That split decision means that more than 400 local redevelopment agencies must cease operations -- for good -- sometime in 2012.
As it turns out, the comment made during last month's court hearing by the attorney representing the state. "The redevelopment agencies took a gamble on this lawsuit," said deputy state attorney Ross Moody.
And it's a gamble they lost.
California's Latin-fluent governor, as he likes to do, invoked the ancient language when asked what he would say to millions of the state's citizens impacted by about $1 billion in automatic, and immediate, budget cuts.
"Nemo dat non habet," said Governor Jerry Brown in a Capitol news conference. "It means, 'No man gives what he does not have.'"
A new statewide poll suggests Governor Jerry Brown
may very well start out his initiative campaign to raise taxes with a bit of a tailwind, though it offers clues on how that breeze could still switch directions.
First, the headline in the Public Policy Institute of California's statewide poll: 60% of likely voters like Brown's roughly $7 billion tax plan when read a brief description (65% of all adults) and only 36% oppose it.
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