Reporting Dave Bryan
LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Governor Jerry Brown began blitzing Southern California Wednesday to win supporters for his tax-and-cut plan to balance the state budget.
Brown had barely completed his state of the state address, when he blasted out of Sacramento and headed for L.A. City Hall, where he repeated much of the speech and urged the audience to support his approach his cut-and-tax approach.
Wednesday evening it was off to Burbank, where he met with teachers and got some more face time on camera.
Governor Brown made it clear that one of his priority issues this year, along with schools and taxes and water infrastructure, will be the controversial California bullet train.
Critics of the plan argue that the story keeps changing, that the costs keep changing and that the routes keep changing.
I asked him about the high-speed train’s credibility problem and how he plans on changing it.
“Well they’re getting straight talk from me. I didn’t start high-speed rail a few years ago. Look, something of that complexity has questions and uncertainties. We’re resolving those. We have a business plan. It’ll be out in three weeks,” Brown said.
Brown said he will campaign hard for his plan to balance the state budget with budget cuts and tax increases.
“You can expect to see me in Los Angeles a lot more during the coming months,” he said.
It was vintage Jerry Brown, as the governor hit the road to sell his vision of California’s state of the state to voters and landed at L.A.’s City Hall. There he said that the state of California may not be great, but it is better than Europe.
“I know we are a long way from Greece, but it kind of model’s the pathway to take,” he said.
Earlier in Sacramento, Brown told lawmakers in his state of the state address that California is on the mend that the worst has passed. He said the state now has a deficit that is only a quarter of what it was last year.
“California has problems, but rumors of its demise are greatly exaggerated,” he said in the speech.
Brown outlined an ambitious agenda for 2012 all contingent on the voters approving a temporary and controversial tax increase, which he hopes to put on the ballot in November.
“If we work together, we can stimulate jobs, build renewable energy, reduce pollution and greenhouse gasses, launch the nation’s only high-speed rail system, reach an agreement on a plan to fix the delta, improve our schools,” he said in his address.
Retired LAUSD science teacher David Meyerhof, who spent 33 years in the classroom, says public schools in California are getting the short end of the stick and that Brown is not doing enough to change that.
“In California we’re spending $33,000 a year to keep somebody in jail. But we’re spending $5,000 a year per pupil to keep them in school. There is something wrong with that,” Meyerhof said.
In the audience at City Hall was billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad, whose tax rate would be raised under the Brown plan. But he is OK with that.
“I am, at both the state and federal level. I agree with Warren Buffett; we’re not being taxed enough,” he said.
Brown’s state of the state road show was expected to continue Thursday in Orange County and San Diego.
The governor said if that tax proposition gets onto the November ballot, he will work as hard as he can campaigning across the state to make sure it passes.