Brown’s “Who’s the Boss?” Moment

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

In vetoing the budget bill, Governor Brown criticized Republicans for stymieing his proposed election to extend temporary taxes. But the real message was delivered to Democratic leadership in the Legislature: "I’m in charge here."

Pressured by a deadline to play-or-not-get-paid, Democratic majorities passed a gimmicky budget, described by the Governor as "not a balanced solution." He further said the budget "continues big deficits for years to come and adds billions of dollars in new debt. It also contains legally questionable maneuvers, costly borrowing and unrealistic savings. Finally, it is not financeable and therefore will not allow us to meet our obligations as they occur."

So he didn’t explicitly finger Democrats for this situation, but it is an unavoidable conclusion given the partisan, simple majority character of the final product.

Democratic leaders certainly didn’t miss the message. In a hastily-called press conference, both Senate leader Steinberg and Assembly Speaker Perez noted their "dismay" in the Governor’s action.

Governors usually, eventually, get their way on the state budget – when they care to press the point. The difference this time is that Governor Brown now faces a hostile Legislature of his own party that he is pushing to compromise on some core values, not the least is rolling key public labor constituencies. Such an intraparty standoff may not have been seen in California for a half-century, when Governor Pat Brown faced off against Speaker Jesse Unruh.

Follow Loren on Twitter: @KayeLoren

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