During the last six months, Governor-Elect and former Governor Jerry Brown pledged to voters and taxpayers throughout California that he had both the experience and the courage to lead California out of its economic malaise and financial doldrums. The voters endorsed his candidacy because they believe that California’s economy and budget deficit are fixable. His combination of experience and courage gave them hope. Now is the time for Governor-Elect Brown to build on that support and take immediate action.
The phrase “it’s the economy stupid” has been used by many elected officials, candidates and pundits over the years, but it has never had a greater ring of truth than today. Last Tuesday’s elections and exit interviews emphasized that Americans are frustrated by the lack of jobs and economic growth and they want their elected officials to respond. California voters also indicated support for efforts to improve their environment and opposition to tax increases.
Given this backdrop, a future of economic growth, new jobs, larger tax revenues and a cleaner environment will depend entirely on the ability and willingness of businesses to invest in California.
To stimulate investment by the private sector, the Governor must immediately bring labor, environmentalists, business and legislative leaders to the table and tell them that he expects them to take the lead in crafting legislation that creates a winning economy, more jobs and a cleaner environment for the citizens of California. He should stress that while he is an avid supporter of “green” jobs, he is not just talking about “green” jobs; California needs all kinds of good jobs for people with all levels of skill and education.
He should tell his allies and opponents that while elections are designed to be win-lose, the jobs bills that the legislature considers should be win-win. He must make it adamantly clear to everyone at the table that without beginning his four-year term as governor with a focus on the economy and jobs, he will not be able to deliver to any of the groups in the room the dreams and aspirations of the citizens of California that they represent.
Thirty years ago a newspaper editor told me that “once you get elected, it is your friends not your enemies that get you in trouble.” Republicans in Washington, D.C. and Democrats in California should head this advice. Governor-Elect Brown should bring both his supporters and his opponents together, look them in the eye with experience and courage, and tell them that California cannot be successful unless we embrace private sector investment and job growth in California.