Nine-tenths of the way through his eighth state-of-the-state address, Gov. Brown lightly touched on two issues that may have as much to do with settling this year’s budget debate as the election he dwelled on for the first 1,600 words. In what seemed to be a grudgingly obligatory nod to structural government reform, Brown said,

We must also face the long term challenge of ensuring that our public pensions are fair to both taxpayers and workers alike. Finally, at a time when more than two million Californians are out of work, we must search out and strip away any accumulated burdens or unreasonable regulations that stand in the way of investment and job creation.

Media reports and commentary have appropriately focused on Brown’s insistence on a statewide special election on his tax proposals and the generally negative Republican response. But was this deeply-buried shout-out to issues that embody government failure and inefficiency the start of a productive message to Republicans, and ultimately to voters?