Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
Published: Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

Gov. Jerry Brown named a so-called “jobs czar” last week and said he’ll propose “a series of things” to boost California’s poor economy.

More or less simultaneously, Brown’s Department of Finance revealed that revenues in July were about 9 percent below state budget assumptions.

Those assumptions had been suddenly and mysteriously upgraded by $4 billion just before the budget was adopted in June, making it much easier to balance – on paper anyway.

Meanwhile, the state Senate’s top Democrat, President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, declared, “We intend on our own, as the majority party, to do all that we can, to put people back to work.”

And on Friday, July’s unemployment statistics were released, revealing that California’s jobless rate ticked back up to 12 percent.

It’s still second highest in the nation behind Nevada. In many rural areas, unemployment is in the Great Depression range, topped by a whopping 30.8 percent in Imperial County.

It means that the California economy is still mired in recession and that the state budget’s rosy revenue scenario is probably not going to become reality.

It means that the governor and other Capitol politicians realize that the sluggish economy not only foretells additional fiscal pain, but poses political peril if they don’t at least appear to be doing something about it.

However, there’s not a whole lot they can do, at least in the short run, to bring back the million-plus jobs that have been lost in the last few years, jump-start tepid retail sales or otherwise restore some economic vigor.

For one thing, much of the state’s economic malaise is rooted in the global economic slowdown, although our deep involvement in the housing bubble made our recession markedly worse.

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