At Tuesday’s high-speed rail groundbreaking in Fresno, Gov. Jerry Brown talked about the year 2030, the target date for getting actual trains in service.
“I’ll be 92 in 2030, so I’m working out, I’m pumping iron, I’m eating vegetables. I want to be around for the 50 percent reduction in petroleum [consumption], the six or 7 million electric cars” that he hopes will be on the road by then.
This is supposedly the beginning of Brown’s last term as governor. But his governorship won’t end in 2018. He’s been busy trying to extend his power to the end of the next decade, and he’s already had quite a bit of success.
Prop 2 effectively locks the Brown budget and debt plans into the state constitution for 15 years. And in his inaugural/State of the State speech, Brown outlined a series of aggressive goals on energy and the environment – all of them with a 15-year target. And of course, his water plans have a similar time horizon.
With high-speed rail underway, and difficult to stop between the construction and the cap-and-trade funding base, Brown’s influence will extend to 2030 too.
This isn’t merely about legacy. This is about actual control and governing authority into this time. One wonders if we all might save ourselves trouble and lift term limits so that Brown’s governorship can go beyond 2018, officially.
Brown guarantee post-gubernatorial influence also should be part of political calculations about his successor. Governor of California is usually seen as a more powerful post than U.S. senator, with good reason. But Brown’s record will constrain his successor. As ambitious politicians consider whether to run for the U.S. Senate seat of Barbara Boxer or wait to run for governor until 2018, they may want to think hard about what kind of power they would have as governor, with so many of Brown’s plans already fixed in place.