SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Governor Brown is calling it a California comeback.
In his annual State of the State Address, Governor Brown hailed the financial turnaround during his latest term in office.
Brown says California's comeback includes a budgetary surplus in the billions of dollars, a million new jobs created since 2010 and a minimum wage rising to $10 an hour.
"This year Californians have a lot to be proud of", Brown told state legislators and invited guests at the State Capital Building, "for a decade, instability was the order of the day, a lethal combination of national recessions, improvident tax cuts and too much spending created a financial sinkhole the defied every effort to climb out, but three years later here we are."
During his 17 minute address, the Governor stuck to a theme of more work to do especially when it comes to the state's whopping debt and unfunded liabilities.
"Well-over $100 billion for pensions owed to our state workers, teachers and judges", Brown says, "tens of billions are needed to cover retiree healthcare, more like $60 billion, and and $65 billion is needed to maintain and keep our roads, buildings and other infrastructure in sound repair."
"He kept going back to his idea that there is still a lot of work ahead, these programs are designed to address long-term planning challenges that the state faces", says Cal Poly Political Science Professor Michael Latner about the State of the State Address, "on the one hand he spent some time describing the sacrifices we've all gone through and the accomplishments of getting the state back on the right track, but immediately he went to the underfunded pension liability and the fiscal troubles the state still faces that we need to overcome to be truly stable from a budgetary perspective."
"What the governor has laid out here is still fairly incremental compared to the structure reforms that we really need to have a long-term stable budgetary situation", Latner adds, "namely tax reform and regulatory reform."
Saying California cannot return to a boom and bust cycle of business as usual, Brown stressed the need for a rainy day fund locked into the State Constitution and the importance of a Local Control Funding Formula for schools.
"Instead of prescriptive commands issued from headquarters here in Sacramento, more general goals have been established for each local school to attain, each in its own way", Brown says, "that puts the responsibility where it has to be, in the classroom and at the local district."
"Its something that is classic Jerry Brown, in the sense it is an attempt to enhance the innovative capacity of local government and local autonomy to allow people to decide how money is used to meet what are then statewide standards", Professor Latner says, "its sort of federalism in action, its something that Jerry Brown clearly believes in, being a former mayor of a city, he understands not only the need for local autonomy but its capacity to get results."
Brown says his controversial prison re-alignment program is a result of federal court order and is working but admits the strain its having on county jails.
As for the drought, the Governor says declaring a state of emergency is only the first step.
"We need everyone in every part of the state to conserve water", Brown says, "we need regulators to re-balance water rules that enable voluntary transfers of water and we must prepare for forest fires."
Governor Brown still has not officially announced he is running for re-election in November.