So...California, that fair state o'mine, has a new governor. Although, it should be pointed out, he's also a former governor; Edmund Gerald 'Jerry' Brown, Jr. was governor for two terms in the 70s, and overall wasn't bad. He also wasn't exactly good, either. His father was governor here for 8 years, too, in the 50s and early 60s.
The Jr. Brown, also known in his previous stint in Sacramento as "Governor Moonbeam," has some legendary characteristics. He's considered a bit of a free spirit, someone who went to seminary school, gave it up because he liked women (how horrible!), and instead went to Berkeley for a Classics degree before heading to Yale for a law degree. He wants people to follow rules, especially big corporations. He's been a governor, a Secretary of State, a District Attorney for the state, and Mayor of Oakland (oy vey). His is famously frugal; his is the only gubernatorial era in that the governor did not occupy the official Governor's Mansion, opting instead for a flat near the Capitol--this is happening again this time around. He slashes state budgets, cutting waste...or should I write it as 'waste', since one person's waste is another person's necessity. He's a bit of a power monger, as he is known to cut entire positions and take them on himself.
But you say, hey Doc, is that so bad? And my response is: eh, depends on who you are.
For example: while he wasn't exactly a great governor, either, Arnold Schwartzenegger was a friend to education, in particular higher education. It was his position that an educated populace is what will propel business and politics in the state--therefore, we need to make sure that while we are in a fiscal crisis, education would be best untouched, but at the very most it must not suffer huge cuts in spending. The education sector, especially higher education, did suffer reduced budgets, but mostly at the hands of the Legislature, who wanted to cut even more from our small purses. Ah-nuld didn't jive with that, and put back money where he could. He also introduced some pretty innovative and revolutionary legislation on how to fund education and infrastructure...but because he wouldn't exactly play ball with the incredibly-powerful lobbyists (with particular reference to the California Teacher's Association (union) and the nurses' unions), the propositions were downed in defeat, and he lost all possible political negotiation power. Ever since, the unions and the Legislature fought Ah-nuld all around.
When the 2010 Gubernatorial options were offered up, and it was down to two, most every Californian I know and listened to had to choose between what we considered to be two evils: a former governor who is known to slash budgets painfully all over to the point of bleeding, or a businesswoman who, while successful in that realm, has zero political experience and knows nothing about how Sacramento works and who admitted that for almost 20 years she never voted because 'she didn't have the time'. Hmmmm...Option A isn't exactly a great one, but we just had several years of another form of Option B, and that pretty much sucked. Besides, maybe some budget slashing could be in order?
Tomorrow (Monday) Governor Brown announces his budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year, and I for one am uneasy. He has already announced that there will be cuts everywhere, including education, and unless he means that there will be cuts to administrator salaries and/or benefits, that means cutting not fat, but meat and bone from already emaciated budgets. While the president of my college has been proactive in years past, and our district now has bond money to play with for the next handful of years, that doesn't mean that we have money to spare. In fact, we have lost so much in faculty, counseling and staff that are necessary, it's in those areas that we're spending money. So I'd like to ask the Guv, where exactly would you like us to spend less? Oh, and we have more students now than we ever have, so asking us to cut is also doing a disservice to the community at large. It's much the same story everywhere in the state.
I'm glad that he is starting with his own 'house' first, cutting positions and staff in the governor's office that are unnecessary and superfluous. Some of the benefits and privileges of the Legislature probably should be cut, too, but somehow I doubt that'll happen. I just hope that in the spirit of frugality the public is not forgotten.
On the other hand, we are talking about a career politician, who is also from a political family. I guess if anyone can massage egos in Sacramento, it'll be 'Good Ol' Jerr'.