Gov. Brown should concentrate on his own backyard

Gov. Jerry Brown delivers his annual State of the State address before a joint session
of the California Legislature Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, in Sacramento. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

A fiery and defiant Gov. Jerry Brown vowed in his State of the State address Tuesday that he will protect California’s “basic principles” — protection of the undocumented, health care and policies to fight climate change — from the new administration in Washington.

But before Gov. Brown attempts to save the world, he ought to focus on his very own state. Perhaps he should start first with California’s large budget deficit or perhaps our poverty rate or even our dismal public education system. But no, instead, he wants to wage war with President Donald Trump.

Missing from the speech was any mention of the news, verified this week by Politifact, that California now has the highest poverty rate in the nation. One in five Californians live in poverty under the U.S. Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure, which takes into account the cost of living, including taxes, housing and medical costs.

The governor said nothing about the brutally high taxes, energy costs and housing costs that are at least partly the cause of the state’s budget deficit, poverty rate and lagging public education system.

Brown made no mention of California businesses or the costs and regulatory burdens that are limiting hiring and wage growth. He said nothing about the state’s massive and unfunded liability for retiree benefits, or the budget shortfall despite growing revenues and new tax increases.

The budget deficit is “the direct result of Sacramento’s failure to break the shackles of the old ‘tax and spend’ mentality and tackle California’s pension debt crisis head on,” said Republican Assemblyman Phillip Chen, who represents parts of Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. Chen is right.

Brown focused on what he called “the broader context of our country and its challenges,” citing the need to “prepare for uncertain times.” The governor said his first “basic principle” is the preservation of California’s “protective measures for the undocumented: the Trust Act, lawful driver’s licenses, basic employment rights and non-discriminatory access to higher education.”

“We may be called upon to defend those laws and defend them we will,” Brown said.

Sadly, Gov. Brown’s speech completely missed the mark. Instead of focusing on crucial California issues like poverty, education and the budget deficit, Brown opted to position himself as the leader of the resistance against President Trump.

If he really wanted to “protect” California, he would focus on his own backyard which in some respects is in shambles.

The indefensible overspending and destructive regulatory policies that have slowly eaten away the prosperity and well-being of California residents is inexcusable.