I double checked. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget press conference has now finally ended.

OK, it took less than two hours, which isn’t that long when you consider the size of California and the complexity of state government. But Newsom’s extremely detailed presentation of his budget was a departure from the short and elliptical budget sessions of Jerry Brown, who believed that less is more.

For those of us who think more is more, Newsom’s approach was refreshing. Most important, he was far more direct than Brown, and he embraced difficult topics, rather than skirting them. This was actually the first time I’ve heard a California governor lay out—with the actual ugly numbers—the size of the pension problem, and get into the retiree health situation (which, he admitted, deeply worries him).

More broadly, he tried very hard to give people numbers and a sense of the scope of the numbers. He was specific and broad, pointing out how the budget is overwhelmingly education and healthcare. That’s obvious to those in the know, but very few Californians understand that. Newsom will have to repeat these facts and messages many times if he’s going to build the knowledge among Californians necessary to reform what remains a very broken system when it comes to budget and governance.

The other departure was Newsom’s optimism—that the state can do more to make Californians, particularly younger Californians, healthier and better educated. He seemed to see each part of the budget as an opportunity to make a policy change, to save some money, or give a little more.

Newsom emphasized his spending was mostly one-time, and he prioritized dealing with debts and unfunded obligations for pensions. As long as California is a state and not a nation that can print its own money, it has to live within its means. But he also hinted at broader tax reform. And he was willing to tangle more directly with the housing crisis.

Newsom made some mistakes. He talked for too long—50 minutes—before taking questions. And he tried arguing with reporters in the room about the fiscal responsibility of the budget. And he kept comparing his frugality to Brown. That’s a fool’s game. The media long ago made Gov. Brown into a budget saint, and they won’t let anyone knock him off that pedestal. And does Newsom really want to out-budget Brown? Newsom’s goals are bigger and more important—to improve the lives of people in the state.

For Brown, the budget and its balance were an end in itself. That was wrong, and you can see the results in the homes and schools of California. For Newsom, the budget must always be a means to an end.