Unlike the pomp of Washington, D.C., the California Governor’s State of the State speech has a much lower profile. To a business-like crowd of officials, judges and guests, Gov. Jerry Brown delivered his 2016 version this week in less than 20 minutes.
The Governor’s “annual report” tends to be a laundry list of accomplishments and goals, marked by his own wry humor (“maybe I’ll run for a fifth term”). This year was no different although he did reminisce that he gave his first State of the State speech 41 years ago.
The Governor touched on his signature issues – building the state reserve fund (we must “focus on how we pay for the commitments we have already made”); climate change (“Humankind must change its ways and radically decarbonize the economy”); and water policy (“Our goal must be to preserve California’s natural beauty and ensure a vibrant economy – on our farms, in our cities and for all the people who live here.”)
On key social service issues, he touted the introduction of the Earned Income Tax Credit in California and vowed to continue it; spoke about full health care coverage for the children of undocumented workers; and pointed proudly to the state’s efforts to raise the minimum wage.
The speech also marked some of the Governor’s ongoing, but stalled, efforts with the Legislature. Once again, he asked for action on infrastructure – an issue that has been the subject of failed special sessions and continues to fester.
“Our overall state deferred maintenance is staggering, estimated to total $77 billion,” said the Governor. “Most of that is in our roads, highways and bridges. Here is our challenge: We have no choice but to maintain our transportation infrastructure.”
His special session on Medi-Cal cost has also stalled but he addressed the issue in his proposed budget earlier in the month.
In closing, the Governor conceded that “[d]ifficulties remain, as they always will. That is the human condition. And finding the right path forward is formidable. But find it we will, as we have in the past and as we will again – with courage and confidence.”