SACRAMENTO -- In his budget news conference last week, Gov. Jerry Brown had a lot to say about how he produced California's first deficit-free budget in years. As he prepares for this week's State of the State, here's another installment of "Jerry Brown: In his own words." "Right now, in the next four years, we're talking about a balanced budget. We're talking about living within our means. This is new. This is a breakthrough. Now, as we say that, that doesn't mean we're in the clear." "I went up and down the state promising that we'd be good stewards of the people's money and would they please add to it by the tax measure. We're also not going to pay the game of spending money we don't have."
"Forty percent of our students are low-income; over 20 percent are challenged in speaking English. We have to disproportionately fund schools that have disproportionate challenges. "We have to live within the means we have; otherwise we get to that situation where we get red ink and then go back to cuts. So I want to avoid the boom and the bust, the borrow and the spend, where we make the promise and then we take it back." "We know from back to Greek philosophy, Aristotle, that treating unequals equally is not justice. Growing up in Compton or in Richmond is not like it is to grow up in Los Gatos or Beverly Hills or Piedmont." "If you look at a classroom in Piedmont and you look at one in Compton, it's a lot different. The (Piedmont) families have far more money, far more access to the better things in life. And the extent to which we can offset that by putting more funding into those school districts (like Compton), we're going to do that." "Maybe some suburbanites might not see it. But I think the ones who can see over the horizon and realize that an aging group of people have a vested interest in making sure that the generation coming along who's going to pay their Social Security and maybe operating their nursing home when they're sitting there drooling, they may want to make sure that they're making enough money that the social harmony is maximized." "That's the whole essence of the progressive agenda, to try to compensate for the global inequalities that are growing." "It is fair, it's right and it's just. ... This really is a classic case of justice to unequals. ... It's a powerful principle." "We're on the road to sustainable balance. It will not be easy; there will be some disagreements; there will be some heartburn. But I'm here to get done what I think is compassionate, what is good for the state of California and what we can maintain over time instead of just enjoying a momentary high and having a hangover years later." "We're in a better place." "That will require a lot of charm." "Guarantees are not part of this world that we live in." "California can be the model, and to do that we have to keep Republicans and Democrats on a playing field that gets us to the end." "Fiscal discipline is not the enemy of democratic governance but rather its fundamental predicate. It's very hard to say no. That's basically going to be my job. It's like a governor on a machine. When a machine tries to exceed a certain speed, the governor then depresses the speed. That is the metaphor for 2013. "I accept and embrace my role of saying no. Yes, there is inequality out there. Yes, there is hardship. But I want to take the money we do have and put it into our schools and colleges and help people help themselves. ... Education is that social program that will give us the biggest return on our investment." "That kind of yo-yo political economy is not good. You give benefits, then yank them back when times are bad. I want to advance the progressive agenda, but consistent with the amount of money the people made available." A balanced budget "allows us to take care of people over time instead of a momentary rash of excitement -- and then we pay with a hangover." "The fruits of prosperity have been disproportionately channeled to capital and away from labor. The top 1 percent in California has 22 percent of the income now. That used to be only 10 percent of the California's income 30 years ago." "The middle class is hollowed out, people at or near the bottom are struggling hard. But state government must still live within the means of what we have." "I see California not as the failed state that a couple of characters keep writing. It's not. I see the challenge in dealing with the complexity of California: (an) aging society, productivity growing more slowly and going not to workers but to the owners of capital. Climate change is increasing." "I realize it's hard. Democrats want to do one thing, Republicans want to do another. I'm in a fairly strategic position to make things work. So, I'd like to, at this stage of my life to do something that will make California a leader and example of what America has to do. That is both fiscal discipline and imaginative investment in technology, society, environment and all the rest. California can be a model. We just have to keep Republicans and Democrats on the playing field that gets us to the end."
California Gov. Jerry Brown, January 15, 2013. (Gary Reyes)
On PBS: "I really feel more equipped, physically, intellectually and spiritually, to do this work than I ever have at any other time in my life."
Contact Steven Harmon at 916-441-2101. Follow him at Twitter.com/ssharmon. Read the Political Blotter at IBAbuzz.com/politics.