George Skelton


By George Skelton
Capitol Journal
January 22, 2014, 6:24 p.m.

SACRAMENTO — So the state of the state’s governor is static — at least until he is safely reelected.

Until the election year blows over, Gov. Jerry Brown is stationary — in a crouch, protecting himself politically, satisfied with the status quo.

In his 30th year in elective office — 12th as governor, after failing in three bids for the presidency and one for the U.S. Senate, and growing up watching his politician father — Brown is instinctively cautious when running the campaign trail. Even if this time it seems a no-sweat jaunt. There’ll be no tripping over potholes.

That was the take-away from Wednesday’s State of the State address to the Legislature, an annual feel-good pageant that includes all statewide elected officials and the California Supreme Court.

Traditionally, governors have promoted bold new proposals in a State of the State speech. But this governor, at this moment, wasn’t seeking kudos for courage. Brown’s address was as predictable and unexciting as his prospective reelection in November to a record fourth term.

Everyone knew what was coming: the warning. Citing scripture, he quoted Joseph advising the Pharaoh: “‘Put away your surplus during the years of great plenty so you will be ready for the lean years which are sure to follow.'”

“Fiscal discipline is not the enemy of our democracy but its fundamental predicate,” Brown continued. “To avoid the mistakes of the past, we must spend with great prudence.”

And who can argue with that? Not his natural political enemy, certainly.

“He sounds more Republican each day,” read a headline on a GOP press release.

Brown boasted about a “California comeback” during his reign, “and what a comeback it is: A million new jobs since 2010, a budgetary surplus in the billions….”

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