California did the impossible. That was the message from Governor Jerry Brown in his State of the State address Thursday, congratulating lawmakers for helping balance the budget and voters for passing tax increases in Proposition 30. And, the Governor vowed to keep the state from ever getting into a financial free-fall like it had.
The first round of applause from lawmakers had the Governor making light of his 30-minute speech.
"Let's not applaud too much," said Governor Brown. "This is one of my longer speeches. We're not going to get out of here if we don't keep moving."
Governor Brown first talked finance and stopping the state's fiscal bleed. He credited budget cuts and Proposition 30. It's estimated to generate $6 billion a year with an increased sales tax and income tax on the wealthy. And, he promised to protect that money.
"This means living within our means and not spending what we don't have. Fiscal discipline is not the enemy of our good intentions, but the basis for realizing them," said Governor Brown.
He admitted there are still financial uncertainties ahead in expanding President Obama's Affordable Health Care Act.
In education, Governor Brown wants to give more money to poorer school districts and protect students in the University of California and California State University systems.
"But, tuition increases are not the answer. I will not let the students become the default financiers of our colleges and universities," said Governor Brown.
The Governor also said he wants to protect the water supply in the San Joaquin Delta with a $14 billion plan to build two tunnels, 30 miles long and 40 feet wide. Although he did not discuss how the water would be split between urban and rural land, Senator Jean Fuller of Bakersfield was happy to hear it mentioned.
"I'm very hopeful that the governor will be able to work with all of the parties and bring them together," said Senator Fuller, (R) 18th District.
And, the Governor congratulated California for catching up with a dozen other countries with High Speed Rail. The plan calls for eventually connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles through Bakersfield. Governor Brown called the project bold, comparing it to The Little Engine That Could.
"I think I can, and over the mountain the little engine went! We're going to get over the mountain. I have no doubt about it," said Governor Brown.
"I would be looking forward to a solid plan," said Senator Fuller. "If we could find a plan that had good ridership numbers and we actually thought before we started that we could pay for it."
Other criticisms from some lawmakers are, they wanted to hear the Governor's plan on immigration, if there are any plans on bringing back social programs, and a plan for job creation.