Dan Walters

Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2013 – 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2013 – 6:48 am

Jerry Brown’s second governorship got off to a rocky start as he squabbled with both Republicans and his fellow Democrats over the state budget’s deficit and finally resorted to fiscal sleight of hand to balance it on paper.

For the last year, however, Brown has been on a roll. He persuaded voters to raise taxes to close the deficit with new taxes, and as the extra money rolled in, Brown forced Democratic legislators to curb their expansionist tendencies in favor of paying down debt and building reserves.

This year, the Legislature adopted his landmark overhaul of school finance, aimed at spending more money on schools with large numbers of poor and/or English learner students, following on a so-called realignment of state and county responsibilities that diverted thousands of low-level felons into county jails and supervision to reduce overcrowding in state prisons.

Brown’s good fortune continues. The state’s economy, mired in recession for a half-decade, is perking up and even more tax money is filling state coffers. Barring some X-factor, such as ill health, Brown will almost certainly run for a fourth term next year, and few political handicappers doubt that he will win, as a new Field Poll indicates.

Although down a bit, Brown’s voter approval rating remains strong at 51 percent and a plurality supports his re-election, the poll found. Republicans remain disenchanted with Brown, not surprisingly, but their numbers are dwindling and their opposition is more than offset by strong backing among Democrats and independents.

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