Next year there is likely to be some jubilation in Republican as well as more than a few Democratic circles when Governor Jerry Brown, a wily tactician who will have held the top position twice for a history-making four terms finally exits the scene.

How well his successor will fare whoever it is may not be known for some time.

However this turns out, Brown has left an indelible image as a fiscally prudent leader who can claim to have bailed out a state in serious financial trouble when he took over.  But he is now getting mixed reviews even before he takes his leave.

Since 2004 the best suite in the Statehouse has been closed to all comers as Brown—a successful heir to a famous political family—learned after a more tumultuous apprenticeship during his first time in command nearly 43 years ago how to read the political winds better than most.

Still, all politicians learn that foresight can only go just so far.

One cause for ambiguity about Brown’s legacy may stem from doubts about the very measure that solidified his reputation as a tough fiscal conservative—the creation of the so-called “rainy day” fund.

A result of Proposition 2 which the voters approved by an overwhelming 69% in 2014, it mandates that 10% of all tax revenues be set aside if needed for unanticipated emergencies.

In 2011 a declining economy was very much on Brown’s mind and his first priority was turning a whopping $27 billion deficit into what became a large one-time budget surplus—not an easy trick even while he could rely on Democratic super-majorities in the legislature.

At the same time the Brown Administration was staring at an unprecedented level of debt —about $35 billion—that had accumulated over the previous decade, a figure that today has been reportedly reduced to $6 billion.

He was able to beat back these alarming statistics through a winning formula that combined increased program funding and some palatable tax increases with enough fiscal restraint to keep the voters happy and his opponents at bay.

A rosier picture was also aided by the state’s faster than anticipated recovery from the 2007 recession with joblessness on the decline and promising economic expansion across the board.

And then there is the rainy day fund which apparently has an escape hatch that budget hawks and Brown critics are worried could release any surplus revenues beyond the required 10% for other purposes.

Prop 70, on the June 5th ballot, it is argued,  would allow that hatch to be opened wide releasing $3.5 billion from the fund ahead of schedule before budgetary projections for next year can be  made.

According to a Los Angeles Times article, road-map-california-rainy-day-reserve-options  this was confirmed by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s office which alleges that it could trigger as much as $2.9 billion of infrastructure spending over the next three years.

Proponents for such projects that see them as major job generators as well as boons for areas suffering from the growing housing crisis might have fewer qualms about such expenditures while other lawmakers would prefer that the monies be stashed away for the next inevitable economic downturn or utilized in other ways.

Most liberal lawmakers will carp that not enough funds are being allocated for education, health, social services and a mounting housing and homeless crisis.

Budget hawks and baseline conservatives will continue to chastise those with whom they disagree as big spenders who have never seen a project they would not like to fund.

Granted, in California’s boom-and-bust economy that relies heavily on income tax collections particularly from those in upper class tax brackets, with the new federal tax deductions, the state is more susceptible to recessions.

Brown’s vaunted frugality was viewed as a safeguard against such developments which could change with the next Administration.

If current trends hold and the economy keeps perking in high gear, Brown is likely to be leaving the state in reasonably good shape despite the forebodings of a few who always see economic collapse around the corner.

Recessions are not something governors or legislators can control. The bigger decisions on the next Administration’s agenda which Brown will leave behind are very big ticket items such as the high-speed train approaching a $79 billion price tag, measures to combat climate change and clean energy investment, a crumbling road and highway system, the equitable allocation of the state’s waning water supply, and adequate housing for a growing population.

These are where frugality and urgent priorities will likely collide.