Jerry Brown Tells California: ‘We Have Not Reached the Promised Land’

Jerry Brown (AP)
Associated Press

California Gov. Jerry Brown was sworn in to a fourth term at the state capitol in Sacramento Monday, using his inaugural address to lay out his agenda for the next four years. He hearkened back to his first inauguration four decades ago, as well as his father’s service as governor and his family’s history in the state, arguing that many future challenges were familiar from the past.

Brown began by introducing members of California’s ancestral families seated in the gallery, as well as his new appointees to the state’s Supreme Court–including the controversial Leondra Kruger, a 38-year-old with little legal experience in the state. Brown pointed to his achievements to the present, including balancing the budget, passing a water bond, launching high-speed rail, and providing drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants. “While we have not reached the Promised Land, we have much to be proud of.”

Recalling his father’s inauguration as governor 56 years ago, Brown said that many of the same challenges still persist, including discrimination, education, and air pollution. “These problems–they never completely go away.” (One of Brown’s predecessors, Ronald Reagan, famously made the same point in arguing that liberal policies had in fact failed to solve the problems it targeted, and that the problems themselves had become a continued rationale for bigger and bigger government, regardless of results.)

Moving to education, Brown tried to address the bitter political crisis over tuition hikes at the state’s colleges and universities. “I will not make students the default financiers of our colleges and universities,” he said, drawing loud applause, and arguing that there would have to be shared sacrifices all around. Brown also warned that the state’s expansion of Medi-Cal under Obamacare was going to pose financial challenges to the state going forward. It was “the right thing to so,” Brown said. “But it isn’t free.”

Brown touched briefly on pension reform, announcing that he would ask state employees “to help start pre-funding our retirement obligations.” He also touted his past efforts to tackle the state’s water challenges, calling on Republicans to join Democrats in bipartisan efforts to solve other environmental problems, especially climate change. Proudly, he described California’s ongoing efforts, including the cap-and-trade system whose provisions continue to take effect. “California, as it has done in many areas, must show the way,” he said, demonstrating that prosperity could coexist with environmental stewardship.

In his conclusion, Brown referred back to the history of the state as one of perseverance, success–and caution. “Always in the end, the indomitable spirit of California has triumphed….Yes, California feeds on change and great undertakings. But the path of wisdom calls on us to ground ourselves.” As in his budget address in 2014, when he urged elected representatives not to spend away the state’s newfound surplus, Brown advised the California legislature to be careful, not profligate, with the state’s wealth.

Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.

Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak