Jerry Brown

California Gov. Brown signs a minimum wage bill at the Ronald Reagan State Building in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, April 4, 2016. (Al Seib – Los Angeles Times)


Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
April 4, 2016 – 2:58 PM

  • Governor opposed minimum wage boost, then embraced it
  • It’s similar to his 1978 flip-flop on Proposition 13
  • The consequences won’t be known until he’s exited

Gov. Jerry Brown joined other political figures one evening last week to raise money for a Capitol internship program and deliver a paean to political compromise.

“Don’t stick too hard to your principles,” Brown advised his fellow politicians, citing his own experience with Proposition 13, the iconic 1978 property tax limit.

Brown, then in his first stint as governor, strenuously opposed the ballot measure, calling it “a ripoff,” but immediately after its overwhelming passage, energetically embraced it.

During last week’s event, Brown described his change of position as merely recognizing that Proposition 13 was law, but that was revisionist history.

Brown actually declared himself a “born-again tax cutter,” championed a state income tax cut that put the state budget in operational deficit, and then ran for president in 1980 as a critic of the imbalanced federal budget.

That campaign went almost nowhere, dying after a lackluster showing in the Wisconsin primary 36 years ago this week.

Brown delivered last week’s remarks just a few days after agreeing to an increase in the state’s minimum wage, now $10 an hour, to $15 by 2022 – after months of resisting such a boost, during which his Department of Finance said a smaller boost to $13 would be economically harmful.

As with Proposition 13, Brown’s turnabout on wages aligned himself with a shift in underlying political dynamics – a union-backed ballot measure to boost the wage level to $15. And true to form, Brown not only agreed to the wage boost he had opposed, but essentially claimed ownership.

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