Yesterday Governor Jerry Brown delivered his "State of the State" speech. He began by ribbing the Republicans, specifically Assemblywoman Connie Conway and Senator Bob Huff, for taping their response to his speech before he was even finished.
Otherwise, it started out sounding like a pep rally. The Governor struck a firmly positive and forward thinking note: California is on the mend, he unequivocally declared.
He then went on to discuss, with enthusiasm and relative optimism, a wide range of issues including the budget, the environment, the creation of a high-speed rail, water, education and finally back to the budget with pension reform, which remains the most important issue facing California. Brown continues to push for a mix of spending cuts and temporary tax increases.
It speaks volumes that Brown, in trying to pass his proposed tax increase, is not again going back to the legislature. Last year Brown waged a losing battle to get the four Republican votes necessary -- two in the Senate and two in the Assembly -- to put his proposed tax increases on the ballot. This year Brown is going straight to the people via the initiative process. The time for compromise on this issue seems to have passed.
Brown spent a good of time selling the creation of a high-speed rail in California. He likened this project to California's most important past-infrastructure projects. If Brown manages to oversee the creation of a high-speed rail it will undoubtedly be an important part of his legacy.
Brown beat a quick path out of Sacramento and headed straight to Los Angeles after his speech. He remained in sales mode in Los Angeles where he argued in favor of his budget plan. The Governor first delivered a modified version of his speech at Los Angeles City Hall and then went to Burbank to meet with local officials and teachers.
Brown's budget will not be an easy sale to local leaders who are weary of additional cuts and discussions of "realignment." Judging by his travel schedule, Brown thinks Los Angeles is an important part of this debate.