There’s no question that California is on the rebound. Since Gov. Brown took office, our state’s unemployment rate has been trending downward. For the first time in years, we’re starting a year with a balanced budget. We have projected budget surpluses on the horizon. California now leads the nation in job creation and we’ve reclaimed our spot as the country’s leading incubator for innovation. And with the passage of Prop 30, our schools and universities are finally seeing an increase in funding after years of cuts.
While California is mounting a major comeback, Gov. Brown made clear in yesterday’s State of the State address that now isn’t the time to rest on our laurels. We still have a long way to go to undo the damage caused by the recession and the Schwarzenegger Administration’s slash-and-burn budget cuts.
It’s time to be bold. It’s time to invest in our future.
What is this but the most diverse, creative and longest standing mass migration in the history of the world. That is California. And we are her sons and daughters. This special destiny never ends. It slows. It falters. It goes off track in ignorance and prejudice but soon resumes again–more vibrant and more stunning in its boldness. The rest of the country looks to California. Not for what is conventional, but for what is necessary — necessary to keep faith with our courageous forebears. What we have done together and what we must do in the coming years is big, but it pales in comparison to the indomitable courage of those who discovered and each decade thereafter built a more abundant California.
Brown’s speech was remarkable for a number of reasons. He looked the critics of California in the eye – Fox News, the GOP declinists and others – and he shredded their criticisms of our great state. He made important, nuanced distinctions between being austere and exercising fiscal discipline. He took the long view, which far too often politicians in this era seem unwilling or unable to do. Most importantly, he called on Californians to embrace the optimism that built our economy into one of the largest, most dynamic economies the world has ever known.
California Labor Federation Executive Secretary Treasurer Art Pulaski:
The Governor mapped a vision for California based on the spirit of optimism that has defined our state since its inception. Instead of telling us what we can’t do, the Governor challenged us to achieve together what our critics have said we could not. From investing in our schools and universities to implementing health care reform to creating middle class jobs and rebuilding our infrastructure, the Governor made clear his vision is to move California forward to a new era of shared prosperity.
The priorities Brown laid out in the speech align with the priorities of the labor movement. In fact, California’s unions have been at the forefront of the effort to push for investments in our future. Brown reiterated his support for high-speed rail, which would create hundreds of thousands of good jobs while modernizing our transportation system. He called for full implementation federal health care reform and an expansion of Medi-Cal to ensure millions of Californians living on the margins receive the health care they deserve. He presented a holistic view of educating our children, proposing to give more control to teachers who know what’s best for kids and moving away from flawed standardized testing.
The Governor also addressed a critical issue: reforming our broken system of corporate tax breaks. If we are to have the revenue to provide for investments in our future, corporate tax break reform is paramount.
California’s unions embrace the Governor’s proposals to reform our broken system of corporate tax breaks that far too often line the pockets of CEOs without creating jobs for workers. Every corporate tax break should be put to the jobs test. If corporate tax breaks don’t create or retain jobs, they must be reformed or eliminated. We strongly support the Governor’s call to reform the state’s enterprise zone tax credit program, which encourages the cannibalization of jobs from one area of the state to another, hurting workers and weakening local economies.
The Governor’s bold agenda can only be accomplished with the strong support of workers and their unions. The Governor acknowledged Labor’s contributions in his speech.
I salute the unions–their members and their leaders. You showed what ordinary people can do when they are united and organized.
California’s future is brighter today than it has been in years. To realize our state’s potential, we must be bold. The California labor movement looks forward to partnering with Gov. Brown to implement his vision and provide the necessary investments to create a better future for our state’s families.