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Brown turns to voters: California’s crisis is “real”, brings tough decisions

Promotional photo of California governor, Jerry Brown.

“California faces a crisis that is real and unprecedented,” California Governor Jerry Brown told members of the legislature, constitutional officers and California citizens, in his State of the State Address, Monday, Jan 31.

Every talking point in Brown’s speech focused on the fiscal downturn in California: job creation, education, budget cuts across the board.

The 14 minute speech emphasized the difficult decision the California government would have to make in terms of the state’s financial deficit.

“Where we go from here—either more austerity or more stimulus—is hotly contested,” Brown said. “If you are a Democrat who doesn’t want to make budget reductions in programs you fought for and deeply believe in, I understand that. If you are a Republican who has taken a stand against taxes, I understand where you are coming from.”

Ultimately, Brown turned to the voters for guidance on the state’s fiscal decision-making.

“It is time for a legislative check-in with the people of California,” he said. “At this moment of extreme difficulty, it behooves us to turn to the people and get a clear mandate on how we should proceed: either to extend the taxes as I fervently believe or cut deeply into the programs from which–under federal law–we can still extract the sums required.”

Brown noted that, if further cuts are approved by voters, those cuts would most likely come out of lower and upper public education, public safety, prisons and health care programs.

Though Brown promised TO begin working on issues surrounding education, public safety, health care and job creation, he noted that the first priority of his office was to balance the state budget.

“But let’s not forget that Job Number 1 – make no mistake about it – is fixing our state budget and getting our spending in line with our revenue,” he said. “Once we do that, the rest will be easy—at least easier because we will have learned to work together and earned back the respect and trust of the people we serve.”