From a purely rhetorical point of view, the highlight of Governor Jerry Brown’s State ff the State address had to be the story of the little engine that could.
“I think I can… I think I can…” chanted the Governor in a methodical crescendo.
As speeches go, it was about as Brown as they come.
“Two years ago they were writing our obituary. Well it didn’t happen. California’s back. Its budget is balanced, and we are on the move,” Brown said.
This was part State of the State address, part victory lap for a guy who took over a California that was $26 billion dollars in debt.
But that’s all in the past. Now where does the Governor go? Brown spoke at length about education specifically, increase funding in poorer schools.
“Equal treatment for children in unequal situations is not justice,” he said of one of his most controversial new policy initiatives. Under the plan, more money would flow to schools where you’d be more likely to find children living in foster care, or living in families making less than $20-thousand a year, or speaking English as a second language.
Governor Brown also spoke about streamlining the California Environmental Quality Act to make our climate more attractive to businesses. That one got an applause break from the other side of the aisle.
“Something for Republicans to clap about,” he quipped.
But the irony is, in the room that now holds a Democratic super majority, many were pointing to the number of conservative ideas that the Governor hit upon in his speech.
“Republican-like themes: fiscal conservancy, more local control. All things that are important to a lot of us,” said Connie Conway of Visalia, the Republican leader of the Assembly.
But it was a broad strokes kind of speech, and on both sides of the aisle legislators were walking away saying ‘the devil is in the details.’