Jerry Brown, don’t let us down

If ever there was a man who could pull off a “save the state” budget miracle for California—that’s Gov. Jerry Brown.

With the state’s Republican Party in meltdown, its leaders unable even to pretend to engage in reasonable deliberation to solve the state’s $26.5 billion deficit, Brown’s first months in office became a firsthand exposé on the bizarre new polarity of California politics.

After successfully making $12 billion worth of spending cuts in January, Brown came flat up against GOP resistance when he sought to fill the rest of the budget hole by placing measures on the June ballot that would extend existing tax revenues. All Brown needed was four GOP votes to put the question before voters, but that turned out to be wishful thinking. (Reminder: The four didn’t have to actually support taxes—just say had to say they were willing to let the voters decide.)

Yes, sadly, shockingly, only a handful of Republican legislators were even willing to sit down and talk with Brown. And even these few wound up cowering from anti-tax activists who seem emboldened these days—on both the state and federal level—to strike fear into the hearts of even the most reasonable Republicans.

As many pundits note, the state’s fractured Republicans thus blew it big-time. Brown had actually given this longtime minority party the opportunity to shape California policy in some key areas as a trade-off for helping him create a budget compromise.

But they dropped the ball instead.

Adding insult, after failing to negotiate or counter Brown’s plan with their own, the Republicans produced a sprawling and ridiculous list of demands at the end of the process which included a continuation of billions of dollars in corporate subsidies and tax breaks which Brown had sought to eliminate.

It was no surprise when negotiations ended right there.

After initial frustration at the collapse of the talks, Brown burst into a new phase on an optimistic note: “Breakdowns do lead to breakthroughs,” he said.

Now he’s hit the road in a “talking” campaign wherein he is visiting some of the Republican districts whose representatives are most steeped in the “no tax” mantra. No doubt Brown will take the opportunity to illuminate voters in these districts about the sobering costs of an all-cuts budget.

Brown was re-elected to the state’s top job on the express platform that he was the one to fix California’s recurring budget nightmare and get the state back into thriving solvency.

We still believe he can do it.

Happily, so does Brown. He just posted a video on YouTube to that effect, explaining that since California’s budget woes have taken a decade to build up, “It’s very serious, and it’s going to take some time before we finally solve it.”

Thankfully, we have a fearless leader who, despite setbacks, seems determined to do just that.