During his first term as governor, Jerry Brown famously became a self-proclaimed “born again tax cutter” after Proposition 13 passed. While he may have discarded that image,  he has now taken on the role as the “backstop” to potential government big spenders and that’s a good thing for California taxpayers.

Releasing the budget revision yesterday, Brown called the state Capitol “a big spending  machine.” He warned the legislature that they must be fiscally prudent and made the point by surprising those who hoped the governor would spend much of the reported unanticipated revenue by declaring there wasn’t as much excess revenue as projected.

The governor’s budget cut the expected revenue overage of $4.5 billion down by more than a third to $2.8 billion and said the number would be even a billion less in a year. Brown’s fiscal team believe the revenue surplus is likely a one time event due to taxpayers scrambling to guard against potential federal tax changes.

Even so, the budget is going up so there will be no shortage of spending by the state government. (Like everyone else with the ability to create a press release, I have my own ideas on how the available money should be spent and add my voice to the chorus that believes the courts were shorted.)

While the general fund hasn’t reached the peak year before the Great Recession took hold ($96 billion in 2013-14, $103 billion in 2007-08), the governor’s overall spending plan, which includes special funds, exceeds the overall spending of that same year ($145 billion in 2013-14, $138 billion in 2007-08.)

The governor said no new taxes were necessary to boost spending. Considering the number of measures still alive in the legislature to raise taxes, his comments were a sober warning to legislators that his veto pen is at the ready.

As the budget debate begins,  Brown has made it clear that taxes and spending will be tightly monitored. While not quite an “over my dead body” declaration, the “backstop” governor’s position is about as good as it gets in this time of anticipated overflow revenue for those concerned about California’s long term  financial health.