By JULIET WILLIAMS, Associated Press
Updated 1:06 pm, Saturday, December 29, 2012
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown checked off most of the items from his 2012 to-do list. He persuaded a majority of voters to pass his tax initiative in November, pushed changes to the public pension system through the Legislature and put California on stronger financial footing.
Now the Democratic governor can turn his attention to the second half of a term that began two years ago and pursue the kind of legacy-building achievements governors seek. At the top of his agenda are a massive water infrastructure project for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the heart of the state’s water-delivery system, and seeing that the nation’s first high-speed rail system gets on track.
“It’s going to be a very exciting year, but it has to be a year that we keep one foot on the brake and the other foot modestly on the accelerator,” Brown said in an interview with The Associated Press.
With Democrats also winning two-thirds majorities in both houses of the Legislature, the governor has said one of his responsibilities will be to keep his own party in check so it doesn’t lose the trust of the voters.
Brown is likely to present a robust agenda when he releases his budget proposal and gives his State of the State address in January. In addition to high-speed rail and a tunnel to convey Sacramento River water around the delta, Brown has signaled that he will seek to overhaul California’s school-funding system, streamline state regulations and further strengthen California’s environmental regulations.
Even Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said in a column that Brown could be “the new voice of reason” in Sacramento, with Republicans marginalized and Democratic lawmakers free to enact anything they like — and even override gubernatorial vetoes.
Brown acknowledged a “momentum and thrust” among liberals to try to restore programs that have experienced deep spending cuts during the recession, but he has been reiterating his admonitions that the state must keep spending in check.
“The problem is that the money that we’ve raised has already been spent, and the goal here was to bring our budget into balance, stop the bleeding in our schools and stabilize the yo-yo budgeting of the last 15 years, and so that’s where we are,” Brown said of his ballot initiative.
He added, “It’s clear to me that we have to stay the course, and this will be a much better year than we’ve had for a long time.”
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