Our View: California Gov. Jerry Brown has kept his promises; re-elect him

May 17, 2014 

California Budget

Gov. Jerry Brown responds to a question about his revised 2014-15 state budget that he unveiled at the Capitol on Tuesday, May 13, 2014.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

In a race as important as governor of California, there’s usually a long list of qualified candidates – even in the primary. Not this year.

So there’s no reason to delay endorsing Jerry Brown for an unprecedented fourth term as governor.

It’s not a hard call. The other two candidates – Republicans Tim Donnelly and Neel Kashkari – are simply not viable. That was amply demonstrated Thursday night when they debated. Donnelly, playing to a tea party audience egged on by a couple of radio talkers, refused to explain or acknowledge past inflammatory racial comments that are certain to alienate the majority of voters. It is difficult to believe he has actually been endorsed by the California Republican Assembly.

Kashkari, meanwhile, does not appear to be ready to compete with Donnelly, much less Brown. The Wall Street expat has never held elective office. The governorship of the nation’s most populous state is not a training ground.

That leaves Brown. But that’s plenty good enough. Brown won re-election four years ago by pledging to be fiscally responsible, to restore order in Sacramento and create a more inclusive state. He’s done what he promised – mostly – and has earned four more years.

Brown often has spoken of being the “adult” in Sacramento. It’s true he’s old enough to be the father of many of the legislators, but his point is that he’s willing to make “adult” decisions. He refuses to cave to demands – mainly from his own party – to spend money as fast as it comes in. We appreciate that. Further, he has worked with both parties to do the things most Californians want done – mainly, getting our economy back on track, increasing opportunities and focusing on solutions in health care and education.

An example last week was his embrace of a bill written by Republican state Sen. Anthony Cannella of Ceres to put a “rainy day fund” proposition on the November ballot.

“Yep, I worked with him on that. I also helped elect his father,” said Brown, who met Friday with The Modesto Bee’s editorial board. “For all I know, I might have helped his grandfather, too. (Cannella has) been collaborative … on this rainy day fund and on workman’s comp – there’s been a lot of collaboration.”

And that’s what is so vitally needed in this state. Competent people working together.

As he seeks an unprecedented fourth term, Californians seem comfortable with Brown. And he seems more comfortable being their governor.

Brown has tended to shift authority from Sacramento to local government, empowering school boards and reducing prison populations. His criminal justice realignment holds promise, though it remains a work in progress. In Stanislaus County, he helped make a new jail a reality.

We don’t agree with all of the governor’s priorities. He is the leading proponent of the $68 billion high-speed rail project; we remain skeptical. He understands the need for California to do its part to reduce greenhouse gases and combat climate change. To that end, he has implemented many of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ideas about renewable energy, and expanded upon them. He would do more over the next four years.

Where we absolutely part company is on the governor’s plan to build twin tunnels to divert much of the Sacramento River – which constitutes 75 percent of the Delta – directly to farmers to the south. After such diversions, the state plans to divert three times the water it currently takes from the Tuolumne, Merced and Stanislaus rivers and send it to the Delta. That will devastate agriculture in our area. The governor must alter that plan from his bureaucrats.

No matter who becomes his opponent, Brown is all but assured of winning in November. And that will be good for California.

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