Today, in what may be an unprecedented move by a governor (unless you count this clip of Arnold Schwarzenegger with a giant knife), Jerry Brown took California’s budget war online with a direct YouTube appeal to Californians. For anyone not paying attention, Brown has vowed to balance California’s deficit by any means necessary—closing a massive gap of some $26.5 billion. The legislature is about halfway there, having agreed to cuts in services for the poor, the disabled, college students, and so on.
Brown wants to cover the rest through temporary extensions of taxes such as the vehicle license fee. The GOP minority, of course, won’t even consider it, despite what is essentially a fiscal emergency. Nor are they supporting further cuts to universities, K-12 education, parks, health care, etc., which in Brown’s words will cause “drastic alterations in the very fabric of our public service.” What’s more, state Republicans are blocking Brown’s attempt to put his tax extensions on the ballot.
The YouTube video is Brown’s attempt to put some constituent heat on the obstructionists. “We’ve been kicking the can down the road,” he says, explaining his choice to balance the budget. “You’ve been treated with evasions, and gimmicks—smoke and mirrors… There’s been a tendency to avoid reality, and you can’t do that forever.” Recalling his campaign promise to check in with voters on the most important decisions, Brown continues, “This is a matter that is too big, too irreversible to leave just to those you have elected… So let me know, let your legislators know, would you like the chance to cast this vote, or would you feel it’s appropriate to shut out the people of California?”
He adds: “I don’t see this as a Republican vs. Democratic issue.”
Quite an operator, that Jerry Brown. But hard not to like the guy. Watch…