By Mary O’KEEFE
Gov. Edmund G. Brown, Jr. delivered his State of the State address on Wednesday morning. His speech was tempered optimism stating that California was “on the mend.”
He stated that last year the state was looking at a structural deficit of over $20 billion.
“It was a real mess,” he said in his address.
He praised the state government and citizens for rising to the occasion with reducing government, lowering costs and transferring “key functions” to local government.
“The result is a problem one-fourth as large as the one we confronted last year,” he said.
He proposed cuts and temporary taxes to close the remaining gap in the government.
“In a world still reeling from the near collapse of the financial system, it makes no sense to spend more than we have,” he said.
He committed to press ahead with substantial budget cuts and “my tax initiative.”
The Governor made a commitment to continue to support green technology and renewable energy business and set a goal of 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020.
“You have laid the foundation by adopting the requirement that one-third of our electricity comes from renewable sources by that date,” he said, adding the state was on track to meet that goal.
He added comments regarding education as well.
“Since everyone goes to school, everyone thinks they know something about education and in a sense they do,” the Governor said.
He suggested to take the decision-making process of education away from the federal or state level and place it into the hands of individual districts and school boards. A monitoring system would be established to keep track of district schools.
For an entire transcript of the State of the State address visit www.cresentavalleyweekly.com
He are some comments on the State of the State address:
Assemblymember Anthony Portantino
“I think the Governor laid out a bi-partisan, balanced plan that preserves education. He mentioned the need to earn the public’s trust through accountability and transparency – and that is important to me. To the extent that he can achieve that balance and not hurt our children’s educational opportunities, his plan should be encouraged to move forward in a public process. We can’t have the legislature take it up in the dead of night without public review, and we need to see all of the details.”
•L.A. Board of Supervisor and County Mayor Michael Antonovich
“The Governor needs a new horse, not a new saddle for a dead horse.”
“Gov. Brown, who has proposed a 7% increase in his FY 2012-13 budget, is once again asking voters for more tax increases when the state’s economy remains stalled by already high taxes and slow growth.
Threatening voters with draconian cuts in public safety and education if they don’t approve his tax increases is a typical scare tactic used by bully politicians who have failed to initiate reforms and improve government efficiency.
The Governor fails to recognize that when you have a dead horse, you need a new horse – not a new saddle. The Governor needs to tackle civil service reform and initiate structural reforms, not continue business as usual. Abuses in the antiquated civil service system are currently paying two prison doctors, Dr. Jeffery Rohfling and Dr. Radu Mischuu, who were responsible for inmate deaths, over half a million dollars a year just to sort mail and review files in storage. This is an outrage.
A sample of the vital structural reforms needed include:
• Consolidating Franchise Tax Board and the Board of Equalization to save $100 million annually;
• Consolidating Medi-Cal, Calworks and Food Stamps to save $4 billion, including $1.5 billion in state general funds over five years;
• Biennial renewal of driver’s licenses to save $1.2 million;
• Cut the bloated California State University system bureaucracy which now has more administrators than full-time faculty. Between 1975 and 2008, the number of faculty members rose by 3% to 12,019 while the number of administrators rose 221% to 12,183;
• Implement a two-year budget;
• Adopt a part-time legislature; and
• Repeal term limits.
• State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson
“The Governor’s speech made it clear that our schools need a financial rescue plan.
Students, parents, and teachers are struggling daily to cope with the cuts made over the last four years. New revenues are the only way to prevent additional cuts that could force more districts to further shorten the school year or fall into state receivership. A ballot measure to protect school funding is a critical first step.
I am heartened by the Governor’s call to re-examine state testing requirements. Like many teachers, I have long argued that students need to spend more time learning and less time taking exams.
I’m looking forward to working with him and the Legislature as it weighs the many choices to be made. I’ll be arguing strongly that we need to maintain child care as a learning experience for children, protect the state’s constitutional school funding guarantee, and shield schools from another round of deep trigger cuts.
Education is our future, whether or not you have children in school. I welcome the chance to talk with Californians about the opportunity to invest in our schools again.”