You may have read that there’s a new problem for the state budget. If the state raises taxes and brings in more money – perhaps for infrastructure – it may bump up against an old spending limit from 1979 that has long thought to be irrelevant.

The 1979 measure was known as the Gann limit, after its author, the late Paul Gann. But it really should be called the Brown limit, after Gov. Jerry Brown, who strongly supported it.

It’s another reminder that Brown’s current pose as the fixer of the state budget is phony. Brown is also a guy who helped break the budget and governance systems in California by supporting many formulas and restrictions that make rational decision-making based on human needs so darn difficult in this state.

It may surprise liberals who fawn over Brown to learn that the Gann limit was advertised as the “Spirit of 13” Initiative, after Prop 13, when Brown got behind it. Brown had opposed Prop 13 at first—though he fueled it by reacting late to complaints about rising tax bills—but then backed it when the voters ran. The governor ran for president in 1980 as a fiscal conservative.

Now, the Brown Limit may frustrate Brown’s plans. But pity the people, not the governor. Brown, in his second go-round as governor, could have led an effort to unwind the broken governing system, by making the case for unplugging all the whips and chains that strange democratic decision-making. Instead, he’s pursued smaller bore measures, like temporary taxes, and argued that major constitutional revision is too hard – while slurring those who argue for such reform as “unrealistic” or “declinist.”

The governor is projecting his own declinism onto others. California would be prospering if it could free itself of the Brown limit and so many other restrictions.