Here is the text of Gov. Jerry Brown’s State of the State speech, which he gave Thursday morning to generally favorable reviews — although there remain many critics of high-speed rail project and his proposal to build water-carrying tunnels beneath the San Joaquin Delta.
The message this year is clear: California has once again confounded our critics. We have wrought in just two years a solid and enduring budget. And, by God, we will persevere and keep it that way for years to come.
Against those who take pleasure, singing of our demise, California did the impossible.
You, the California Legislature, did it. You cast difficult votes to cut billions from the state budget. You curbed prison spending through an historic realignment and you reformed and reduced the state’s long term pension liabilities.
Then, the citizens of California, using their inherent political power under the Constitution, finished the task. They embraced the new taxes of Proposition 30 by a healthy margin of 55% to 44%.
Members of the legislature, I salute you for your courage, for wholeheartedly throwing yourself into the cause.
I salute the unions–their members and their leaders. You showed what ordinary people can do when they are united and organized.
I salute those leaders of California business and the individual citizens who proudly stood with us.
I salute the teachers and the students, the parents and the college presidents, the whole school community. As the great jurist, Oliver Wendell Holmes, once said when describing what stirs people to action: “Feeling begets feeling and great feeling begets great feeling.” You were alarmed, you stirred yourselves to action and victory was the outcome.
That was 2012 and what a year!
In fact, both 2011 and 2012 were remarkable.
You did great things: Your 1/3 renewable energy mandate; the reform of workers compensation; the reorganization of state government; protecting our forests and strengthening our timber industry; reforming our welfare system; and launching the nation’s first high speed rail system.
But, of course, governing never ends. We have promises to keep. And the most important is the one we made to the voters if Proposition 30 passed: that we would guard jealously the money temporarily made available.
In the midst of the Great Depression, Franklin Rooseveltsaid: “There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation has a rendezvous with destiny.”
The founding of the Missions, secularized and sold off in little more than 50 years, the displacement and devastation of the native people, the discovery of Gold, the coming of the Forty-Niners and adventurers from every continent, first by the thousands and then by the hundreds of thousands. Then during the Civil War under President Lincoln came the Transcontinental Railroad and Land Grant Colleges, followed by the founding of the University of California. And oil production, movies, an aircraft industry, the longest suspension bridgei n the world, aerospace, the first freeways, grand water projects, Jet Propulsation Laboratory, Venture Capital, Silicon Valley, Hewlett Packard, Apple, Qualcomm, Google and countless others, existing and still just imagined.
What is this but the most diverse, creative and longest standing mass migration in the history of the world. That is California. And we are her sons and daughters.
This special destiny never ends. It slows. It falters. It goes off track in ignorance and prejudice but soon resumes again–more vibrant and more stunning in its boldness.
The rest of the country looks to California. Not for what is conventional, but for what is necessary–necessary to keep faith with our courageous forebears.
What we have done together and what we must do in the coming years is big, but it pales in comparison to the indomitable courage of those who discovered and each decade thereafter built a more abundant California.
As Legislators, It is your duty and privilege to pass laws. But what we need to do for our future will require more than producing hundreds of new laws each year. Montaigne, the great French writer of the 16th Century, in his Essay on Experience, wisely wrote: “There is little relation between our actions, which are in perpetual mutation, and fixed and immutable laws. The most desirable laws are those that are the rarest, simplest, and most general; and I even think that it would be better to have none at all than to have them in such numbers as we have.”
Constantly expanding the coercive power of government by adding each year so many minute prescriptions to our already detailed and turgid legal system overshadows other aspects of public service. Individual creativity and direct leadership must also play a part. We do this, not by commanding thou shalt or thou shalt not through a new law but by tapping into the persuasive power that can inspire and organize people. Lay the Ten Commandments next to the California Education code and you will see how far we have diverged in approach and in content from that which forms the basis of our legal system.
Add to this the fact that three million California school age children speak a language at home other than English and more than two million children live in poverty. And we have a funding system that is overly complex, bureaucratically driven and deeply inequitable. That is the state of affairs today.
The laws that are in fashion demand tightly constrained curricula and reams of accountability data. All the better if it requires quiz-bits of information, regurgitated at regular intervals and stored in vast computers. Performance metrics, of course, are invoked like talismans. Distant authorities crack the whip, demanding quantitative measures and a stark, single number to encapsulate the precise achievement level of every child.
My 2013 Budget Summary lays out the case for cutting categorical programs and putting maximum authority and discretion back at the local level–with school boards. I am asking you to approve a brand new Local Control Funding Formula which would distribute supplemental funds — over an extended period of time — to school districts based on the real world problems they face. This formula recognizes the fact that a child in a family making $20,000 a year or speaking a language different from English or living in a foster home requires more help. Equal treatment for children in unequal situations is not justice.
California lost 1.3 million jobs in the great Recession but we are coming back at a faster pace than the national average. The new Office of Business and Economic Development — GoBiz –directly assisted more than 5,000 companies this past year.
One of those companies was Samsung Semiconductor Inc. headquartered in Korea. Working with the City of San Jose and Santa Clara County, GoBiz persuaded Samsung to locate their only research and development facility in the world here in California. The new facility in San Jose will place at least 2,500 people in high skill, high wage jobs. We also leveled the field on internet sales taxes, paving the way for over 1,000 new jobs at new Amazon distribution centers in Patterson and San Bernardino and now Tracy.
This year, we should change both the Enterprise Zone Program and the Jobs Hiring Credit. They aren’t working. We also need to rethink and streamline our regulatory procedures, particularly the California Environmental Quality Act. Our approach needs to be based more on consistent standards that provide greater certainty and cut needless delays.
California’s exports are booming and our place in the world economy has never been stronger. Our ties with The People’s Republic of China in particular are deep–from the Chinese immigrants crossing the Pacific in 1848 to hosting China’s next President in Los Angeles last February. This year we will take another step to strengthen the ties between the world’s second and ninth largest economies. In April, I will lead a trade and investment mission to China with help from the Bay Area Council and officially open California’s new trade and investment office in Shanghai.
If because of an earthquake, a hundred year storm or sea level rise, the Delta fails, the disaster would be comparable to Hurricane Katrina or Superstorm Sandy: losses of at least $100 billion and 40,000 jobs. I am going to do whatever I can to make sure that does not happen. My proposed plan is two tunnels 30 miles long and 40 feet wide, designed to improve the ecology of the Delta, with almost 100 square miles of habitat restoration. Yes, that is big but so is the problem.
The London Olympics lasted a short while and cost $14 billion, about the same cost as this project. But this project will serve California for hundreds of years.
Again California is leading the way. We are reducing emissions as required by AB 32 and we will meet our goal of getting carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
Key to our efforts is reducing electricity consumption through efficiency standards for buildings and appliances. Over the last three decades, these pioneering efforts have saved Californians $65 billion dollars. And we are not through yet.
We are also meeting our renewable energy goals: more than 20% renewable energy this year. By 2020, we will get at least a third of our electricity from the sun and the wind and other renewable sources–and probably more.
I have directed our Transportation Agency to review thoroughly our current priorities and explore long-term funding options.
Last year, you authorized another big project: High Speed Rail. Yes, it is bold but so is everything else about California.
Electrified trains are part of the future. China already has 5000 miles of high speed rail and intends to double that. Spain has 1600 miles and is building more. More than a dozen other countries have their own successful high speed rail systems. Even Morocco is building one.
The first phase will get us from Madera to Bakersfield. Then we will take it through the Tehachapi Mountains to Palmdale, constructing 30 miles of tunnels and bridges. The first rail line through those mountains was built in 1874 and its top speed over the crest is still 24 miles an hour. Then we will build another 33 miles of tunnels and bridges before we get the train to its destination at Union Station in the heart of Los Angeles.
It has taken great perseverance to get us this far. I signed the original high speed rail Authority in 1982–over 30 years ago. In 2013, we will finally break ground and start construction.
This is my 11th year in the job and I have never been more excited. Two years ago, they were writing our obituary. Well it didn’t happen. California is back, its budget is balanced, and we are on the move. Let’s go out and get it done.