California Governor Jerry Brown delivered his final “State of the State” address on Thursday in the State Capitol in Sacramento. Brown, in his second consecutive term, and his fourth term overall since the late 1970s, is prevented by law from running again.
His 2018 speech was the 16th such address — far more than any other California governor has given. He used the occasion to review his achievements and call for bipartisan unity on his favorite issues.
Brown pointed to how far the state had come since 2011, when he took office after a political comeback that saw him work his way back up the system from Oakland mayor to California attorney general.
“It is now hard to visualize — or even remember — the hardships, the bankruptcies and the home foreclosures so many experienced during the Great Recession,” Brown recalled. Unemployment was above 12 percent and 1.3 million Californians lost their jobs.”
Today, he said, California’s economy is booming again, with 2.8 million new jobs created in the past eight years.
He pointed to legislation on which Republicans had joined Democrats, and vowed to protect those Republicans who crossed the aisle to re-authorize the state’s controversial cap-and-trade program. “I got your back,” Brown promised.
Brown emphasized the challenge of climate change and other environmental themes. “We should never forget our dependence on the natural environment … we can’t fight nature, we have to learn how to get along with it,” he said. He promised to convene a task force to review forest management in the state in response to the spate of wildfires that struck California over the past several months. He touted California’s leadership on climate change policy, in contrast to the policies of the Trump administration. And he promised to begin spending money on water storage.
He also addressed last year’s controversial 12-cent gas tax hike — which now faces a repeal referendum — calling it “essential” to raise money to fund repairs to the state’s aging infrastructure. “I will do anything in my power to defeat any repeal effort that gets on the ballot. You can count on that,” he said, to applause from Democrats.
Brown also talked about high-speed rail. “I make no bones about it: I like trains, I like high-speed trains even better,” he said. He said that such systems were “taken for granted” in other countries, quoting President Ronald Reagan praising the Japanese bullet train in 1983. Brown acknowledged that there were “obstacles” to the high-speed rail system, but vowed to build it, saying it was cheaper than expanding airports or building new freeways.
“California was built on dreams and perseverance, and the bolder path is still our way forward,” Brown declared.
Brown also touted California’s participation in Obamacare. He specifically thanked the three Republicans in the U.S. Senate who had defeated efforts in 2017 to repeal and replace the ailing program. “Thank God for John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins,” he said, noting that they had joined with Democrats to save Obamacare.
Notably, Brown did not wade into the ongoing debate over single-payer health care in California.
He did, however, address criminal justice reform, urging legislators not to pass new criminal statutes too easily. He cited the thicket of criminal provisions in the California penal code, contrasting them with the Ten Commandments.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.