To my fellow citizens of California:
Four years ago, I asked that you support my candidacy for governor based on my bringing an “insider’s knowledge but an outsider’s mind” to fix the budget breakdown and overcome Sacramento’s poisonous partisanship. Now, four years later, a $27 billion deficit has become a surplus and our credit rating and public confidence are rising. State budgets are not only balanced but they are on time and free of the rancor of past years.
I said that I would work with both Democrats and Republicans, oil companies and environmentalists, unions and business, and I have.
I pledged that there would be no smoke and mirrors in the budget, and there aren’t.
I promised that there would be no new taxes unless you the people voted for them, and you did.
I also said that we would return decisions and authority to local government and schools, and we have–through Prison Realignment and the Local Control Spending Formula for schools.
The goal was to get California working again–both its government and its overall economy, and that is happening.
For our schools, where once there were thousands of layoffs and widespread elimination of arts and science programs, there is now local control, new hiring and restoration of programs–$10 billion in additional funds this year alone. As for health care, millions of Californians will now either be covered for the first time or enjoy more affordable and better plans.
With Congress failing to reform immigration laws, California acted on its own, passing the Dream Act, making drivers’ licenses available and protecting immigrants from employer retaliation or being deported for minor offenses.
Since the recession, California created a million new jobs, raised the minimum wage, and reformed workers compensation to increase benefits and cut costs.
After more than a fivefold increase in the prison population, California has now embraced a series of major reforms that place responsibility and funding for lower level offenders with local governments. As a result, the prison population is down dramatically and significant funding is going to treatment and rehabilitation.
But, of course, there is much more to do. The many laws that have been passed need oversight and wise administration. Despite the passage of solid pension reform, our pension and retiree health care plans remain underfunded. And California still faces huge liabilities in the form of long deferred maintenance of our roads and public buildings. In short, the current budget surplus, if it is to endure, requires vigilance and a resolute will.
At this stage of my life, I can say–without any hesitation–that I am prepared and excited to tackle these challenges and the many others that lay before us. In fact, there is nothing I would rather do. So today, I have taken out the papers to run for re-election.
If you had asked me 40 years ago–when I first ran for governor–what I would be doing in 2014, I could never have guessed. Nor could anyone else. Yet, by the grace of God and habits of perseverance instilled in me by my family, the Dominican nuns and the Jesuits, I am here and ready to go.
We live in unprecedented times. The tasks ahead are not simple or mundane. The climate itself is changing, threatening catastrophic and irreversible damage to the oceans and natural systems on which human beings and other forms of life depend. In many respects, California is leading the way and we will continue to do so by encouraging many kinds of innovation and by joining with other states and nations. But this is a global problem and only by acting both locally and globally do we have any chance of reducing the unrelenting increase of heat-trapping gasses.
California is now formally committed to obtaining at least one third of its electricity from renewable sources. We are also building the nation’s only high speed rail system and linking it closely with improved local and regional rails systems. Finally, California is strongly encouraging electric and other low emission vehicles, along with better land use to get people and jobs closer together. In all these endeavors, my goal is to decrease the use of fossil fuels while fostering vibrant communities and a sustainable environment.
The current drought is a portent of weather to come. It should awaken us to the actions we need to take this year and in the years to follow. Water is more than a resource. It is a vital and fundamental element of our wellbeing. In the next few years, we need to make solid progress in managing our water both above and below the ground. I pledge my full commitment to bringing all the disparate parties together and working to achieve sensible, scientific and sustainable water policies.
California is known for its brilliant innovation and Nobel Prizes. Yet, millions of our families are struggling and too many men and women cannot find work or the living wages they deserve. My policy is to encourage both new jobs and to protect workers’ rights and environmental values. Balance here is key but what constitutes balance is contested on all sides. I won’t make everyone happy every time but I will listen and I will seek to find the best and fairest way forward.
I’ve lived here my whole life. I love this state and will do my utmost to enable California to keep faith with its past and pave the way for a future as bold as our forebears would expect.