Jerry Brown Sworn In As California's Governor
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Im Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
And Im Melissa Block.
Unidentified Woman: I, state your name.
Governor-Elect JERRY BROWN (Democrat, California): I, Jerry Brown...
(Soundbite of laughter)
Unidentified Woman: Do solemnly swear...
Governor BROWN: ...do solemnly swear.
BLOCK: In California, whats old is new again. Democrat Jerry Brown was sworn in as governor today. He first held that office for two terms, starting in 1975. Things were tight back then, but now Brown faces a massive budget shortfall and political gridlock.
John Myers is Sacramento bureau chief for member station KQED. He joins us now. Hi, John.
JOHN MYERS: Hi, Melissa.
BLOCK: And Jerry Brown, as we mentioned, served two terms as governor before, but he's certainly inheriting a state now with a lot of troubles, especially money troubles. What did he say today about how he plans to fix California's many problems?
MYERS: Well, I think in summary, you could say really what he told everybody is get ready for some tough medicine. I think just about everyone has to expect that, it seems. You know, his first state budget proposal comes out a week from today and we are already hearing that he's going to propose two things that nobody likes: deep cuts and some taxes.
Now, California is projected to come up $28 billion short over the next year and a half. Brown reportedly is going to propose deep cuts, including some that his fellow Democrats won't like. And we've been told he will probably ask voters to cast a ballot on the extension of some temporary tax increases, ask them to go to the ballot. That vote could come as soon as the end of springtime.
And again, these are things no doubt are going to earn him criticism from both the left and the right. And you got the feeling today Brown knew that, and so he used his brief inaugural remarks to ask everyone, particularly here in the State House in Sacramento, to answer what sounded like a higher calling.
Governor BROWN: We can overcome the sharp divisions that leave our politics in perpetual gridlock, but only if we reach into our heart and find that loyalty, that devotion to California, above and beyond our narrow perspectives.
MYERS: That devotion to California, he used the phrase a couple of times and he made it, you know, almost as a look back in his inaugural address to what his ancestors faced when they arrived in California before the Gold Rush, said they had a higher calling.
And really what he's asking for is this lessening of partisan tension, and that's really what he's got to resolve. And that's going to be hard to do.
BLOCK: Yeah, and we heard him there, John, mentioning specifically perpetual gridlock. Do you get the sense that he has a plan or a strategy for putting politics aside and getting stuff done?
MYERS: It's going to be interesting to watch and I think some people are going to be skeptical. For a guy who's lived his entire life in politics - he's 72 years old - he's been on every side of every issue, it seems like - as governor, as Mayor, as the state's attorney general.
You know, one longtime observer of Brown told me this morning that Jerry Brown may have just found the exact right time to be governor because if you think about it, in the 1970s, he was famous for preaching about an era of limits. Well, this is in fact when Californians are going to need to hear that, so the thinking goes.
And so one of the, you know, sayings that Jerry Brown often applied to his job, probably is true also. He always said that governing is like paddling a canoe -you paddle a little to the left, you paddle a little to the right, and you stay straight down the middle. And I think that's what he's going to have to do as governor.
BLOCK: Of course, he is taking over from the Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Expecting a very different governorship under Jerry Brown?
MYERS: Well, Arnold Schwarzenegger was a Hollywood blockbuster. Let's face it, I think Jerry Brown is more like reality TV.
(Soundbite of laughter)
MYERS: Small screen, less scripted, more gritty. You know, he thanked Schwarzenegger today. He said he did some good things. But I think you're going to see Jerry Brown less interested in the optics of running the state. And really, he's going to be more interested in old-fashioned politicking -political wrangling, dialog, arm twisting up. It'll be interesting to see if he can do it.
BLOCK: OK, John, thanks so much.
MYERS: You're welcome.
BLOCK: That's John Myers, Sacramento bureau chief from member station KQED, talking about today's inaugural of Jerry Brown as governor of California.
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