Reax to Gov. Jerry Brown’s ‘State of the State’

From state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento:

“We enter 2013 surrounded by the most positive atmosphere in several years, and the Governor’s State of the State address points us toward the great potential that lies ahead for California. With bold action, the Legislature worked with Governor Brown to weather the storm of fiscal adversity in perhaps the most difficult period in modern California history. We handled that well; we can also handle success in the better times that lie ahead.

“I join the Governor in his call for fiscal restraint, but neither can we be afraid to be bold in our vision for California. We cannot spend money that we don’t have, and we won’t. As the economy grows, we will develop smart strategies to pay down debt, to build-up our reserves, and also to begin restoring what’s been lost when the opportunity is there to do so.

“We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work to further restore the promise of this great state.”

From state Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar:

“We share the Governor’s optimism and celebration of California’s entrepreneurial spirit, business community and educators. We are encouraged by the Governor’s acknowledgement that we need to pay down debt, develop a rainy day fund, and avoid saddling our college students with more tuition increases.

“We look forward to working with the Governor on education reforms to ensure that all California students can obtain a world class education.

“While the Governor acknowledged the loss of jobs in California and focused on job creation in Silicon Valley, he did not offer any substantive proposals for job creation or helping California’s working families. The long-term solution to California’s economic challenges is to get Californians back to work.”

From Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley:

“Governor Brown’s State of the State address was a breath of fresh air and the first time since my start in the Assembly that the dark cloud of deficits was lifted.

“To the naysayers who doubted California’s ability to bounce back from the worst global economic collapse in recent memory, the Governor reminded us that together Sacramento and California voters acted decisively and proved them wrong. Our state is on its way to economic recovery.

“I commend Governor Brown for his message of optimism and boldness that reflects a return to California the great. He outlined our past and present efforts that will continue to secure California’s status as the golden state with unparalleled education opportunities, global leadership on transportation, clean energy and climate change and an innovative, growing economy.

“While restraint is necessary to not invite the next bust cycle, restoration of essential safety net services is also important to support Californians still hurting from the economic downturn.

“I am proud that, among the achievements mentioned by Governor Brown, legislation I authored is among accomplishments that have helped pave the way for internet sales taxes, responsible for over 1,000 new jobs in the state and California’s achievement of more than 20 percent renewable energy this year.

“It’s an exciting time for California – and a proud moment for all – as we continue the work ahead of shaping a stronger economy, fueling technology, expanding health care, supporting education and combatting climate change.”

From California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro:

“Today, the Governor wasn’t so much kicking the can down the road as he was hiding the can entirely. And while we’re glad he embraced a number of key Republican proposals, there’s still no plan to create jobs. If you’re unemployed, you want action, not rhetoric.

“His bold proclamations of an economic turnaround conveniently ignored the facts: our cities are going bankrupt because they can’t pay off pension obligations, 4.4 million taxpayers have left the state since 1998 while job creators are fleeing the worst business climate in the nation, and continuing government waste and abuse undermines any promise of fiscal restraint. It’s time for a reality check.

“The overall picture of California’s economy is not nearly as good as Gov. Brown paints it, mainly because Democrats raised taxes retroactively and have virtually guaranteed future job losses to add to the millions of Californians out of work today. This all may be ‘par for the course’ for Jerry Brown, but not for those living with less through no fault of their own. They have a much more realistic outlook and our leadership would do well to accept that reality instead of trying to blur the facts.”

Much more, after the jump…

From state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord:

“After years of hearing how grim our state’s future looked, it is refreshing to hear Governor Brown’s positive and bold State of the State address today. I agree whole-heartedly that when it comes to our state’s finances, the era of boom and bust must end. We have all made sacrifices to get our state on the road to recovery—the legislature has voted to make painful cuts, and the citizens have voted for new taxes with Proposition 30. Now is the time to reinvest in education and infrastructure, important building blocks of the California dream, while ensuring that our most critical programs are funded in the most stable way possible. As Chair of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, I echo Governor Brown’s call to look for long term funding sources for transportation infrastructure projects. I look forward to working with the Governor to improve accountability and accessibility throughout our state government.”

From state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco:

“Thanks to the actions of the Governor, the Legislature, and the people of California, our state is clearly heading in the right direction. Jobs are being created and our economy has significantly improved. While we should not go on a spending spree, we should begin to restore critical services that were decimated in the past several budgets. I am extremely pleased to see the Governor’s commitment to our public universities and his declaration that tuition hikes are off the table.”

From Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino:

“I commend the Governor’s vision of investing in our most valuable and vital infrastructure, our students and public education system. Education is one of my top priorities in my final term in office and pleased that the Governor is prioritizing quality education for all of our students. I look forward to working with the Governor and my colleagues in Legislature in ensuring that California is prepared to take on new challenges and seizing this moment to invest in California’s future.”

From California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski:

“The Governor mapped a vision for California based on the spirit of optimism that has defined our state since its inception. Instead of telling us what we can’t do, the Governor challenged us to achieve together what our critics have said we could not. From investing in our schools and universities to implementing health care reform to creating middle class jobs and rebuilding our infrastructure, the Governor made clear his vision is to move California forward to a new era of shared prosperity.

“The labor movement is proud to join the Governor in his call for more investment in our future. It’s imperative that we move boldly to reverse the politics of decline that reigned under Gov. Schwarzenegger. It’s also important that we wisely invest taxpayer dollars to create good jobs that will lead to a middle class renaissance. High-speed rail will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, bolster small business and transform our state’s transportation system.

“California’s unions embrace the Governor’s proposals to reform our broken system of corporate tax breaks that far too often line the pockets of CEOs without creating jobs for workers. Every corporate tax break should be put to the jobs test. If corporate tax breaks don’t create or retain jobs, they must be reformed or eliminated. We strongly support the Governor’s call to reform the state’s enterprise zone tax credit program, which encourages the cannibalization of jobs from one area of the state to another, hurting workers and weakening local economies.

“California’s future is brighter today than it has been in years. To realize our state’s potential, we must be bold. The California labor movement looks forward to partnering with Gov. Brown to implement his vision and provide the necessary investments to create a better future for our state’s families.”

From Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman:

“Everyone loves a good comeback story and California certainly has a good story to tell, although the real work is still ahead of us. Governor Brown has stoked renewed excitement in California’s future, while keeping us grounded on the many challenges we still face – from simplifying our onerous regulatory environment to restoring the luster of our K-12 and higher education systems to maintaining strong fiscal discipline.

“Economic growth and job creation must be among our top priorities and Governor Brown acknowledged that we can sometimes be our own worst enemy when it comes to providing a strong climate for business and economic success. The Governor was right to single out the imperative for modernizing the California Environmental Quality Act, which along with a broad coalition of partners, including the Legislature, we are working to accomplish this year.

“We are also excited to be partnering with Gov. Brown to reopen California’s trade offices in China, leading a trade mission there this spring with the Governor and opening a grand, new chapter in our economic partnership with one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing economies. The story of California’s comeback is a work in progress and with every new page we are eager – as the Governor said – to continue confounding the critics of California’s capacity for renewal, innovation and progress.”

From Reshma Shamasunder, executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center, on behalf of the HHS Network of California:

“Governor Brown looked ahead to California’s future in laying out his vision. However, if he had looked in his rearview mirror, he would have seen how the most vulnerable in our state have sacrificed vital services in budget after budget. Working families, children, seniors, and people with disabilities have borne the burden of over $15 billion dollars slashed from our social safety net since 2008.

“The real state of California is that almost a quarter of our children are living in poverty. The real state of California is that our residents are struggling to secure basic needs like food, shelter, and healthcare. The real state of California is that working families are still in search of good, paying jobs.

“We are calling on legislative leaders to act on the will of the people and pass a budget built on revenue solutions that truly meets California’s needs and repairs our damaged social safety net. It’s time for the restoration of past cuts and for corporations to pay their fair share.

“We must restore, rebuild and reinvest so that families, children, seniors, and people with disabilities are included in our economic recovery moving forward – not left behind in poverty.”

From Kristine Berman, senior vice president for state government affairs of TechAmerica, a national technology trade association:

“We greatly appreciate Governor Brown’s acknowledgement of the vibrancy of the California technology industry in today’s address and we applaud the pragmatism and optimism of the vision he laid out today as he leads California into 2013 with its first budget surplus in recent memory.

“There is no doubt that the tough decisions the state has made in recent years have played key roles in finally getting California’s budget back into balance. But as we move forward, we must remember that the greatest asset the state has to ensure balanced budgets in the future continues to be the dynamic California economy.

“Governor Brown’s continued focus on significant issues that impact California’s economic recovery is greatly appreciated and will benefit all Californians. We particularly appreciate the focus on restoring education so that young Californians will have the skills needed to fill the high-skilled technology jobs being created every day. We also appreciate the Governor’s continued efforts to update the California Environmental Quality Act, which will encourage growing companies to expand here -meaning new, high-paying jobs and greater revenues for local governments and the state, resulting in a rejuvenated economy that will benefit us all.

“The tech industry stands ready to help the Governor move California’s economy forward, ensuring brighter years of robust economic growth without the need for more painful decisions on further cuts or new taxes.”

From StudentsFirst Vice President of Legislative Affairs Tim Melton:

“Like Governor Brown, we believe strongly that ensuring our students receive a world-class education is a matter of social justice. While we are pleased that California’s improved fiscal stability will allow continued investment in the classroom, we must also focus on such reforms as improving teacher evaluation systems so educators are receiving the support and feedback they need to improve student learning. We remain encouraged by Gov. Brown’s commitment to providing our schools with the resources and the flexibility they need to focus on improving student achievement, including among English-language learners, students with disabilities and students from low-income areas. Together with reforms that ensure education dollars are spent wisely, transparently and sustainably, these policies can go a long way toward delivering the high-quality education every California student deserves. We look forward to working with Gov. Brown and with legislators to support student learning and put our kids’ educations first.”

From Health Access California Executive Director Anthony Wright:

“We appreciate Governor Brown’s call for bold action to address longstanding issues – and there is no greater opportunity this year than on health care. We are pleased Governor Brown has again committed to implement the federal health reform, today calling a special session so Californians can take advantage of the new benefits coming in 2014. California needs to move quickly on health reform implementation and Medicaid expansion, so we are ready to start enrolling Californians in coverage in October of this year–in less than nine short months.”

“Thanks to Governor Brown and the California voters, this is first budget in a long time without multi-billion dollar cuts to health, education, and other vital services. But at a time when our economy is still struggling, California needs a budget that provides help to California families, and to our economic recovery. Health and human services has taken $15 billion of cuts in previous years, and California families need help now, especially when unemployment is still too high. In just the past few budgets, California has lowered provider payments in Medi-Cal to some of the lowest rates in the nation, eliminated benefits like dental coverage for three million adults in Medi-Cal, and shut down whole programs like Healthy Families and Adult Day Health Care. While some of these changes will be permanent, small strategic investments and restorations could yield major improvements in our health system, and could bring in additional federal matching funds into our budget and economy. Fiscal prudence also means taking advantage of funding opportunities, and not leaving dollars in DC.”

“With relatively small investments, we can get significant matching funds to make big improvements in our health system. California should seek not just an expanded Medi-Cal but an improved one, one that dramatically improves the health system we all rely on. While these investments have always made sense, given the federal matching dollars, there is more incentive now, as the newly eligible are 100% federally funded for the next three years – and with no less than a 9:1 match in 2020 and beyond. California can and should make key decisions in the next few months to maximize the benefit.”

“The improvements are what we need to make health reform work as successful as possible, to make changes that are not just incremental but transformational. The Governor cited the history of California’s innovation and risk-taking, and implementing health reform provides great benefit for minimal risk. California can use this opportunity to build a health system for the future, making this as transformational a moment for our state as the railroad or university system.”

From Children Now President Ted Lempert:

“We must act now to modernize our broken school finance system. We can no longer tolerate an outdated, irrational and overly complex finance system that yields unacceptable inequities and poor student outcomes.

“Giving school districts flexibility and local control is critical. Student needs are best understood at the local level so that is where these important finance decisions should be made.

“Governor Brown’s proposal takes an important step to fix school finance and will require ongoing cooperation and input from statewide leaders in education, business, civil rights and children’s advocacy.

“The Governor has made it clear that he is committed to tackling this issue. Those of us committed to California’s K-12 students must respond by meeting the challenge to work together in the coming months to craft a student-centered, results-driven school finance system that increases local control and transparency.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.