Looking Ahead—and Back—at the State of the State Address

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

Governor Jerry Brown’s 14th State of the State address tomorrow undoubtedly will carry a defense of California policies in the era of President Donald Trump. But what else might we expect and hope to hear from the governor?

During last year’s State of the State Address, Governor Brown closed with the issue of climate change. Expect that to be a lead issue this year. Brown is sure to implore legislators to pass the cap-and-trade urgency measure to make safe the state’s cap-and-trade program for the long term that he requested when introducing his budget.

Brown’s now usual warnings about the budget and the danger of being excessive with taxpayers’ money is worth repeating. He led with such budget admonitions during last year’s speech. Budget uncertainties are greater than normal this year. Not only will Brown give his usual caution about the effects of an economic downturn on the state budget, but also we are sure to hear that actions in Washington could have profound effects on the budget.

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High Speed Rail Progress is Misreported

Dan Richard
Chair of the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors

I have to agree with part of Joel Fox’s commentary on the High-Speed Rail Program, in the wake of yet another over-the-top, totally inaccurate report from the LA Times. The title of his piece was “Enough Already!” That’s just how I feel. Enough already of the bogus reporting, false issues, apples-to-oranges comparisons and abject failure to understand  the fundamentals of how the program is managed. Enough with quoting people out of context or selectively – or ignoring their statements entirely. Enough with trying to politicize an important infrastructure investment for the State, one that is making good progress despite a handful of people throwing obstacles in the way.

Mr. Fox said our response to the LA Times report was weak. Well, let me try it this way: Both we and our federal funding partners categorically reject the characterization that there is a multi-billion dollar overrun in the project. We reject the notion that the High-Speed Rail Authority will fall short of spending the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus funds by the statutory deadline and while there may well be some changes to the ambitious schedule for environmental review (anyone want us to cut corners?) they are nowhere near the free-fall suggested by the Times article.

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Remember that California is a Democracy, and the U.S. Is Not

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Californians shouldn’t apologize for challenging the new administration or its democratic legitimacy.

Because California is a democracy – albeit a very flawed one – and the United States is not.

California elects the people who win the most votes (albeit in a problematic top two system). The United States, as we’re learning again, doesn’t elect the people who wins the most votes, and that’s not just a slam at the Electoral College. Our Congress also does not reflect the popular will, given the exigencies of single-member districts and the U.S. Senate. Democrats won the popular vote for the U.S. Senate—but lost the U.S. Senate. (California has a version of the same problem, since we also use single-member districts, but the mismatch between democratic preference isn’t quite as severe).

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What I Saw at the Inauguration

Ann-Marie Villicana
Co-Founder LA Trump, Former Pasadena City Council Member and Realtor

The Trump era has begun!  That’s what the news media are telling us.  The Trump era actually began over a year and a half ago when Donald J. Trump, a not so ordinary American citizen, rode down an escalator and announced his candidacy for President of the United States of America from his Trump Tower.  His victory is extraordinary, but if you ask people like me, people like those in the mid west, people from the Deep South, people from every state in the union that volunteered and voted for him – we all knew that he would win. We knew that he had to win, otherwise the America we love would be lost.  So many of us are women, people of color, people who own small businesses, people who work for a living, people with children and grand children who were in DC for the very first time just to  witness this historic moment.

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Six Things About Donald Trump’s Inauguration

Reed Galen
Republican political consultant

I awoke Friday with butterflies. As a scion of DC politics and a long-time practitioner of it, Inauguration Day, regardless of president or party, always leaves me excited and appreciative of the country in which I live. As the live feeds scrolled from Blair House, where I spent endless days in 2001 eating finger sandwiches, to the North Portico of the White House, the gauzy sweetness of fond memories had me believing that we were all going to be okay. President Donald Trump took the oath of office and the ruffles and flourishes rang out. “Hail to the Chief” blasted from the military band. The thunder of the 21 gun salute from Army howitzers put me a peak patriotism. Then President Donald Trump started talking.

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Brown Should Follow Cuomo’s Lead on State of the State Speech

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Finally, a big-state governor has figured out how to do a state of the state presentation properly.

Unfortunately, that governor is not California’s governor.

A few years ago, I advised Gov. Brown to ditch the traditional State of the State speech, since it has lost all punch, and instead go around the state, listening to citizens in different regions. Such sessions would give a true state of the state.

Brown didn’t take my advice. Instead he took a shot at me at the beginning of his speech that year, accusing me (falsely, I must add) of being a “declinist” with “nothing to say in the face of California’s comeback.”

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Concerns Over Trump and the Chance to Prove his Detractors Wrong

Richard Rubin
Chair, California Commonwealth Club Board of Governors

Presidential Inaugurals are supposed to be celebrations of a new start, fresh beginnings—-sometimes even historic moments.

That was the case in 2008 when the nation chose its first black President.

Another historic moment is upon us when the 45th president, Donald T. Trump, will be sworn in amidst controversy over his election that outweighs the event itself.

No time in memory have at least 50 members of Congress decided to boycott this ritual ceremony which typically symbolizes the peaceful passing of the torch regardless of which party takes control.

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A View from the Inauguration: Kellyanne Conway Speaks to Women Leaders

Ann-Marie Villicana
Co-Founder LA Trump, Former Pasadena City Council Member and Realtor

“Dreams come true! Women can do anything!” That was Kellyanne Conway’s message yesterday morning in front of a group of 250 women leaders, the day before her 50th birthday … and the much discussed inauguration of Donald J. Trump. Kellyanne said she is having a huge birthday party and there is a small swearing in on the side! Her message was supportive, encouraging, gave insight and reminded you that she is a woman with all the same thoughts and issues that that we have.

Kellyanne told us how important the grassroots voters were and that that is gratifying to have a victory for the future that is shared by all.

She stressed to the group that the Trump family is making unbelievable sacrifices, that the Trumps are doing this for all Americans.

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Presidential Inaugurations Are More Than a Hail to the (New) Chief

Richard M. Skinner teaches political science at Johns Hopkins and George Washington Universities.

On Jan. 20, tens of millions of people will watch the pomp and spectacle of a uniquely American tradition. The hushed politicos in the pews of prayer service, the gleaming marching band brass on parade, the holy men and women delivering solemn invocations, the tuxes and gowns dancing their way through evening balls. And, of course, the next president of the United States of America, right hand up, left hand on the Bible, being sworn in for the highest office of the most powerful nation on the planet.

Yet all of the day’s formalities fail to cover up certain strains that often accompany this public ceremony. For alongside the pageantry, our inaugurations also expose some of the biggest tensions that define the American presidency—and show how our democracy has survived to repeat the ritual for the nation’s 45th commander-in-chief.

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Environmentalism Provides Moral Cover for New Taxes to Fund Pensions

Ed Ring
Ed Ring is the vice president of research policy for the California Policy Center.

There are two intertwined themes that define unionized government in California. First, funding government retiree pensions will soak up every new source of tax revenue they will ever collect. Second, cloaking new taxes and fees – and new agencies – in the virtuous raiment of environmentalism will deflect criticism and demonize critics. Here’s why:

Now that Democrats have a super-majority in California’s state legislature, expect to see plentiful new taxes to pile onto the $5.0 billion in new state and local taxes that were approved by voters on November 8th. After all, California’s projected 2017-18 state budget still has a $1.6 billion deficit. And that’s nothing. Here is a look what sort of deficit challenges California’s state and local governments are actually facing:

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