There’s a reason California has a governor and state Senate Democrats are getting ready to show just what that reason is.

When state Senate leaders said this week that they agree with Gov. Jerry Brown’s “fundamental goals and concepts” when it comes to school financing, everyone waited for the inevitable “but…”

It wasn’t long in coming. Senate Bill 69 dumps Brown’s plan to provide bonus dollars to California school districts where low-income and non-English speaking students make up a majority of enrollment. It also pumps more cash into high-wealth suburban districts with high-scoring kids.

Brown’s plan “can be improved,” Senate leader Darrell Steinberg said Thursday, and Democratic state senators are just the people to do it.

Now almost any Sacramento law, plan or scheme can be made better and, as Steinberg reminded Brown, while a governor can talk in grand terms about his programs, it’s the legislators who have to pass them. And Brown’s been around California politics too long to expect he would get a rubber stamp from even an overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature.

There’s already been plenty of posturing, with Brown and the legislators growling at each other and comparing the size of their rhetoric (Brown’s “This is not an ordinary legislative measure, this is a cause” is the early leader).

The governor’s vow to “fight any effort to dilute” his spending plan and legislators’ suggestion that Brown chill out and let the real experts handle school finance are just an expected part of the political dance. There will be discussions and there will be concessions and something will be hammered out.

The latest state financial numbers, which show California’s revenues running about $3.5 billion above budget estimates, also figure into the dispute. Since much of any surplus is earmarked (like it or not, as Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom would say) for the schools under Prop. 98 rules, that new cash could ease the complaints of districts irate about being shortchanged under Brown’s finance plan.

But in the end, the clash between Brown and Democratic legislators was inevitable, and it will play out on almost every other controversial issue that comes up this year.

While legislators make laws for the entire state, they’re only elected by the people in their district and no successful politician can afford to forget that. When a legislator has to decide between what’s best for the state or what’s best for his or her district, that’s typically not a real tough choice.

And since the bulk of California school districts get less money under the governor’s proposed financing plan, that means plenty of legislators are in districts with lots of unhappy educators.

Brown, though, was elected by voters across California, who trust him to do what’s best the state as a whole. It’s the rising tide theory, which holds that while some parts of the state may be losers in the short run, what’s best for California ultimately improves life for everyone in the state.

Of course there’s no guarantee that Brown, or any other governor for that matter, will always make the right choices about what’s best for the state, which is why there’s a Legislature.

Still, it’s Brown’s job to look at the statewide picture and that’s what he’s doing with education financing. Poor kids and those who don’t speak fluent English already are at a desperate disadvantage in California and while sending more cash to their schools might not be the solution, it’s at least part of the answer.

Narrowing the gap between the educational haves and have-nots in California is essential. If it means that well-off districts and their students have to deal with tighter budgets for a time, consider it the shared cost of a better future for all Californians.

John Wildermuth is a longtime writer on California politics.