Gov. Jerry Brown spoke to The Bee’s editorial board last week about the third term as governor, his goals for the next four years, spending, climate change and more. Following are excerpts from that conversation.
Tell us three things you’d do in the coming four years.
My No. 1 priority is to keep my wife happy. … Manage the local control formula and (public school) funding. … Same thing with prison realignment. We have to reduce by another 8,000 prisoners. …
Knowing chances are 11 to 3 that we’re going to have another deficit, I am going to keep as much reserve as I can. … We can’t be embarking on too many other things, however worthy, when we’re not sure of what spending we can’t avoid.
What about funding pre-kindergarten?
Add it to the list. I’m interested in people’s suggestions, but I’m just telling you, a lot of people would say we’re already overcommitted.
Would you say that?
I would say I’m going to be very careful. When you look at $300 billion in liability, you want to be careful. If you borrow too much in a company and things don’t go the way you think, it’s a lot of stress. I would like to keep the stress level down.
We have 15 solid years of public education, from kindergarten through the first two years of community college. And now there are people who want to do a 16th year. … How do we fund it? … A lot of people in the Legislature believe in significant new taxes. I ran on a platform of no new taxes without a vote of the people. We got $7 billion (in voter approved tax increases). We will live within that.
How would you address economic development in a new term?
California has created a million more jobs in the last four years. We’re 60 percent of the nation’s venture capital. We have more patents. We’re the leader in biotech. The Silicon Valley is the wonder of the world. So there is a lot going on. I know in the (Central) Valley there are challenges. And we’re working through the workforce investment board. … We’re trying to align apprenticeship, community colleges, career tech, and that’s an important element. … We’re big on incentives. We give about $2 billion in research and development credits.
Calls continue for a moratorium on fracking; what’s your view?
We have the most intelligent regulation on the drilling of oil in the country. We’re spending millions of dollars on a scientific study that relates to the effect on water and a full bore environmental impact report. … We do import two-thirds of our oil, and our cars do drive 332.2 billion miles a year. I haven’t heard anyone call for a moratorium on that. … You can’t get to 333 billion miles without a lot of oil. What doesn’t come from here will come from a boat or a train. It is coming.
Is it fair to say there is nothing new on your agenda?
There will never be another fourth-term (governor). That is extremely new, totally unprecedented. … The tunnels and the train could take up a lot of time. …
What is new is that I’m someone worried about the aggregation of centralized power. … There is work to be done in sorting out what’s state, what’s local, what’s federal. And I would like to champion that.
I’ll tell you what else is new. (Combating) climate change cannot work unless we have more allies. We signed an agreement with Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. I’ve signed a memo with China. … I’m going to Mexico to see if I can get an agreement there. …
Conceiving myself as the leader of this nation-state, the eighth largest economy in the world, I’m going to be looking to national and international agreements that can advance our key agenda, which is to cope with climate change.