- Jan 24, 2013
- Reaction score
- Sunnyvale California
- Political Leaning
When Jerry Brown became governor of California again, three years ago, this state was on a steep decline, crushed by budget deficits, deep spending cuts, governmental paralysis, high unemployment and a collapsing housing market. California, a place that once symbolized promise and opportunity, seemed caught in an intractable reversal of fortune.
But these days, Mr. Brown — who at 75 is the oldest governor in the nation and about to become the longest-serving governor in the history of California — is enjoying a degree of success and authority he and his opponents could scarcely have imagined when he returned to Sacramento to begin a second tour as governor in 2010.
The state’s budget problems are largely resolved, at least for the short term. Mr. Brown is the dominant figure in Sacramento, strengthened by overwhelming Democratic control of the Legislature and the decline of the Republican Party. He has pushed through major initiatives on education financing and prison reorganization. Even Republicans say his re-election next year seems considerably more than likely.
“Some people were ridiculing California, and some were calling it a failed state,” Mr. Brown, a Democrat, said in an interview. “The unemployment came down from 12.2 to 8.5. Real estate is rebounding. There’s a lot of confidence out there. That’s what happened.”
Mr. Brown has his share of problems. He unsuccessfully resisted a federal court order to move inmates out of overcrowded prisons. Changes in the state employee pension system approved last year do not, in the view of most analysts, come close to addressing the long-term pension liabilities over the horizon.
His latest proposal to overhaul California’s water distribution system is smacking up against the same entrenched geographical and business factions that defeated him when he tried to address the problem as governor from 1975 to 1983. Mr. Brown’s signature plan to build a high-speed rail line from Los Angeles to San Francisco remains a target of skepticism and ridicule. In a setback Friday night, a superior judge in Sacramento ruled that the agency overseeing the project failed to comply with the cost and environmental requirements in a ballot measure authorizing the project.