In an inaugural address that was short on both time and production value, Gov. Jerry Brown called on all of the state’s politicians to drop their own personal or partisan interests and be “loyal to California.”
Brown, in his 15-minute speech to a less-than-packed house at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium, said the state’s current problems were not insurmountable, especially when compared to Brown’s great grandfather’s trek from Germany to California in 1878.
“It is not just my family, but every Californian is heir to some form of powerful tradition, some history of overcoming challenges much more daunting than those we face today,” California’s 39th governor told the crowd.
Such a spirit, Brown said, would motivate his administration to right California’s fiscal house in a responsible way.
“This is a time to honestly assess our financial condition and make the tough choices,” Brown said.
Brown was short on details during his speech but spoke of three themes that would guide his term.
“Speak the truth. No more smoke and mirrors in the budget. No empty promises. … No new taxes unless the people vote for them. … Return — as much as possible — decisions and authority to cities, counties and schools, closer to the people.”
Brown is already under fire for proposing a series of new taxes that he expects to place before a popular vote.
Proposing new taxes and cuts isn’t making state Sen. Lou Correa, D-Anaheim, that comfortable, even though Correa is co-sponsoring a hot dog lunch celebration for Brown with the Orange County Employees Association.
“It’s an old and tired approach,” Correa said about the new taxes, new cuts approach.
Correa — who represents a working class section of Orange County and is seen as close to business — said California’s leaders need to concentrate on growing the economy, cutting regulations and providing jobs, not just hiking taxes and cutting programs.
“This is all about the middle class in California,” Correa said just before entering the inaugural. “We need more economic stimulus or else we’ll just do this again [cut and tax] in two years,” Correa said.
Brown’s inaugural event at the auditorium had much less production value than former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first, say Capitol reporters who covered both. And it was more lightly attended, with dozens of empty seats.
That didn’t stop Brown’s wife, Anne Gust Brown, from telling the crowd that “it’s just a very emotional day and were very excited to be here.”
He ended his speech by singing that 36 years after his own first inaugural, he was back.
“California, here I come. Right back where I started from,” Brown sang.
Correction: A previous version of this post misspelled Anne Gust Brown’s name. We regret the error.
— NORBERTO SANTANA, JR.