(AP) – Gov. Jerry Brown urged fiscal caution Thursday in his State of the State address, calling for lawmakers to beef up California’s rainy day fund and pay for long-delayed infrastructure repairs instead of pursuing expensive new programs.
As he did in his budget proposal last week, Brown sought funding for health care and transportation initiatives he previously proposed rather than push for new social programs supported by many of his fellow Democrats. Republicans have opposed his funding plans for those initiatives.
“You are not going to hear me talk today about any new programs. Rather I am going to focus on how we pay for the commitments we have already made,” the governor said.
The 77-year-old governor also used his 14th State of the State address to outline the state’s “very progressive but volatile tax structure” that tracks a world economy he called profoundly uncertain.
“A slowdown in China or turmoil in Iraq or Syria, or virtually anywhere can send the stock market reeling and put California jobs and state revenues in jeopardy,” he said. “The challenge is to solve today’s problems without making those of tomorrow even worse.”
The Democratic governor also decried wage stagnation he said has plagued many Americans and outlined the state’s response that has included an increased minimum wage, stronger wage laws protecting unionized workers and an earned income tax credit.
He once again urged lawmakers to find a permanent revenue source to maintain roads and bridges that he said now need $77 billion in repairs.
“Sooner or later we have to bite the bullet,” he said. “One way or another, the roads must be fixed.”
Sen. Jim Nielsen of Gerber, the top Republican on the Senate budget committee, said the state can fund the fixes from existing revenues.
“It does appear that there’s going to be additional revenues, particularly for transportation,” Nielsen said. “He focused on having to raise taxes for transportation … We’re not going to go along with that part of the program.”
By Associated Press