Gov. Jerry Brown's 16th and Final State of the State

Infrastructure, climate change, and natural disasters were among the themes of the California governor's final address to the legislature and public. Two of his accomplishments, high-speed rail and increasing the gas tax, face uncertain futures.
January 28, 2018, 1pm PST | Irvin Dawid
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The 79-year-old Gov. Brown completes his second term this year since taking office in 2011. When he was 37, he was elected as the state's 34th governor, serving from 1975 to 1983.

"Brown used the address to set out two critical campaigns he is planning to wage that are likely to help define not only the next year in California politics but also influence the race to succeed him," report Adam Nagourney and Tim Arango from the Los Angeles bureau of The New York Times.

The first involves the 12-cent-a-gallon gas tax Democrats in the State Legislature muscled through last year to raise $5 billion a year for the state’s battered roads. Republicans see an opportunity to use it against Democrats: They are circulating petitions to put a voter initiative on the ballot to repeal the measure (and in the process, they hope, bring out an anti-Democratic vote that could protect congressional Republicans facing tough re-election battles.).

“Fighting the gas tax may appear to be good politics, but it isn’t,” Mr. Brown said. “I will do everything in my power to defeat any repeal effort that gets on the ballot.” (Worth noting here: Mr. Brown’s success in winning approval for [Proposition 30: a temporary income tax surcharge and sales tax hike] initiative [and in 2012.)

The other is one of Mr. Brown’s top priorities, a high-speed train that is now in jeopardy because of cost overruns... In previous years, Mr. Brown barely mentioned his train. This year, he devoted a long passage to making an urgent plea for the project. “There are lawsuits, lots of them. But California was built on dreams and perseverance. ....

Brown's most notable accomplishment may be meeting one of the basic responsibilities of governors. When he took office seven years ago, he inherited a $28 billion deficit. The state is running a $12 billion surplus, which "may be his most enduring accomplishment," notes the San Francisco Chronicle editorial on the speech.

The Democratic governor also thanked some Republicans on two issues:

  • The Cap-and-Trade Program: "And by the way, you Republicans, as I look over here and I look over there, don’t worry, I’ve got your back!" he stated in reference to the eight Republican legislators who voted in support of the the bill, AB 398, to continue the nation's only comprehensive market-based carbon-pricing program. 
  • The national Affordable Care Act: " Thank God for John McCain, Lisa Murkowski and Susan CollinsAlong with the Democrats, they prevailed and protected the healthcare for tens of millions of Americans," Brown said.

Read the speech on the governor's webpage or annotated text by the Los Angeles Times.

Full Story:
Published on Friday, January 26, 2018 in The New York Times
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