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Gov. Brown Sworn In, Faces Tough Job

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Our new/old Governor Jerry Brown is inaugurated into a job that promises to be more trouble than even this old pol can skillfully navigate.

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New York Times notes Brown hasn't come in with a full set of specific plans to wrestle our no-news-to-him fiscal crisis to ground:

In contrast to his first inaugural speech -- where he called for a 7 percent cut in the size of his office staff -- Mr. Brown did not offer many specifics for how he intended to deal with a state budget shortfall that is now projected at $28.5 billion over 18 months. But he has made clear that his solution, in a budget due Jan. 10, will call for deep cuts in state spending, and his aides have said it is also likely to include a request that voters extend tax surcharges scheduled to expire this year.....

On this day, at least, Mr. Brown seemed intent on not making any enemies, promising to impose tough cuts without detailing exactly what may lay ahead, well aware that cuts in programs, or proposed tax increases, would threaten to squander whatever support he enjoys now.

That business about taxes has California watchdog group the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation already mad at the new gov:

During the week previous to his inauguration as the new old Governor, Jerry Brown let it be known that, in his view, taxes are going to have to be raised. What a shock. During the campaign, his promise to raise taxes only with voter approval was clear evidence of his true intentions to balance the budget by further burdening California's already beleaguered taxpayers.

But even the hardcore collectivists in the formidable spending lobby know that this is going to be a hard sell. According to Capitol buzz, the taxes he seeks to raise are the very ones rejected by the voters in May of 2009 with the defeat of Prop 1A. Moreover, voters just rejected the two statewide tax increases less than two months ago - the modest parks tax and the elimination of corporate tax breaks.

California urban guru Joel Kotkin assesses the Brown family's political history, and sums up the grim situation Jerry now faces:

Under the feckless Arnold Schwarzenegger, state debt jumped from $34 billion to $88 billion. California now spends twice as much on servicing its interest (more than $6 billion annually) than on the University of California.

Brown himself recently conceded that the state budget deficit may widen to $28 billion over the next 18 months while the state's Legislative Analyst's Office predicts that $20 billion deficits are likely to persist at least through 2016. Not surprisingly, once golden California suffers consistently near the worst debt rating of any state. And things are not likely to turn around quickly: State and local tax revenues in the third quarter of last year rose a paltry 0.6% compared with a 5.2 % gain nationwide.

Joe Matthews at Zocalo Public Square sees a Jerry Brown that hasn't changed enough from his first term to boldly square the circle of a California government that both grossly overspends and, Matthews thinks, underserves; and Calbuzz speculates on five questions about the inauguration.

Image taken by Flickr user LWY. Used under user Creative Commons license.

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