There will be an increased focus on the governor’s race as the year moves on but for all of 2018 Jerry Brown will be governor and he means to make his presence felt. Beyond the expected gubernatorial duties of presenting a budget and signing or vetoing bills, Brown is sure to use the governor’s bully pulpit to continue his crusade on climate change and shoring up the high-speed rail before he leaves office.

But where does he spend the $15 million in his campaign kitty?  That’s legacy money.

Will that campaign money be used to defeat a gas tax repeal and leave his successor with the whole budget—not a budget with a hole. Such an accomplishment would be meaningful to Brown. 

Brown will prepare his last budget based on the estimated $5.2 billion annual revenue expected to come in with the gas and vehicle fee boost. If voters reject the gas tax via a ballot initiative the next governor could see a sizeable hole in the spending plans going forward.

When Brown ended his first tour as governor in the early 1980s he left behind a messy budget deficit for successor George Deukmejian. Brown also remembers well that his father, Pat Brown, left new governor Ronald Reagan with a big budget problem.

Polling shows support for a potential ballot measure to end the gas tax increase approved this past year. If the measure gets on the ballot you can be sure there will be a well funded effort to oppose the measure with an unusual combination of construction unions and big business both holding the shovel to scoop money into the campaign.

Expect Brown to throw a few bags of cash and a lot of personal effort at preserving the tax.

Brown will do all he can to make sure he leaves the next governor in healthy fiscal circumstances.