Below is the full text, as prepared, of Governor Brown’s State of the State Address given on January 18th, 2012.
As required by the state constitution, I am reporting to you this morning on the condition of our state.
Putting it as simply as I can, California is on the mend. Last year, we were looking at a structural deficit of over $20 billion. It was a real mess. But you rose to the occasion and together we shrunk state government, reduced our borrowing costs and transferred key functions to local government, closer to the people. The result is a problem one fourth as large as the one we confronted last year.
My goal then was to balance budget cuts with a temporary extension of existing taxes—if the voters approved. You made the reductions and some very difficult decisions but the four Republican votes needed to put the tax measure on the ballot were not there. So we are left with unfinished business: closing the remaining gap.
Again, I propose cuts and temporary taxes. Neither is popular but both must be done. In a world still reeling from the near collapse of the financial system, it makes no sense to spend more than we have. The financial downgrading of the United States, as well as of several governments in Europe, should be warning enough. It is said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions and digging ourselves into a deep financial hole—to do good—is a bad idea. In this time of uncertainty, prudence and paying down debt is the best policy.
For my part, I am determined to press ahead both with substantial budget cuts and my tax initiative. The cuts are not ones I like but the situation demands them. As for the initiative, it is fair. It is temporary. It is half of what people were paying in 2010. And it will protect our schools and guarantee—in the constitution—funding for the public safety programs we transferred to local government. With enough time, we can and should devise more permanent tax reform but for now we should finish the job of bringing spending into balance with revenues.
Putting our fiscal house in order is good stewardship and helps us regain the trust of the people. It also builds confidence in California as a place to invest and realize one’s dreams. Contrary to those critics who fantasize that California is a failed state, I see unspent potential and incredible opportunity. Every decade since the 60’s, dystopian journalists write stories on the impending decline of our economy, our culture and our politics. Yes, it is fair to say that California is turbulent, less predictable and, well, different. Yet, look at the facts.
After the mortgage bubble burst in 2007, California lost a million jobs, much of it driven by the overleveraged construction industry and its financial partners in the under-regulated mortgage industry. The result is a recovery far slower than after the previous six national recessions. But now we are coming back. In 2011, California personal income grew by almost $100 billion and 230,000 jobs were created—a rate much higher than the nation as a whole.
Contrary to those declinists, who sing of Texas and bemoan our woes, California is still the land of dreams—as well as the Dream Act. It’s the place where Apple, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, QUALCOMM, Twitter, Facebook and countless other creative companies all began. It’s home to more Nobel Laureates and venture capital investment than any other state. In 2010, California received 48% of U.S. venture capital investments. In the first three months of last year it rose even higher—to 52%. That is more than four times greater that the next recipient, Massachusetts. As for new patents, California inventors were awarded almost four times as many as inventors from the next state, New York.
California has problems but rumors of its demise are greatly exaggerated.
The year 2012 presents plenty of opportunity and, if we work together, we can:
Build renewable energy
Reduce pollution and greenhouse gasses
Launch the nation’s only high-speed rail system
Reach agreement on a plan to fix the Delta
Improve our schools
Reform our pensions, and,
Make sure that prison realignment is working—to protect public safety and reduce recidivism.