Capitol encounter underscores challenges for Jerry Brown
On the campaign trail, Jerry Brown talked about the need to forge common purpose and shared sacrifice. But he got a first-hand taste of some of the challenges that face him Thursday when he came to the state Capitol.
It wasn't necessarily his meetings with budget officials or legislative leaders that provided the outline of the difficulties Brown will face trying to solve the budget problem. It was an interaction Brown had between those meetings with advocates in the Capitol hallways. He walked into the capitol Thursday afternoon where he was greeted by cheering activists seeking to restore funds vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for child care for people who take jobs to get off welfare. Mary Ignatius, statewide director of the group Parent Voices, approached Brown in the hallway outside the Department of Finance and presented him with 5,000 signatures from parents asking for the money to be restored. Brown asked her if she wanted to give them to Schwarzenegger instead. "No," she told him, "because you are the person who can do something about it."
After suffering through years of deep budget cuts, activists such as Ignatius are now looking to Brown to stop the bleeding. But budget forecasts indicate deeper cuts may be on the way. Democrats won the right to pass a budget with a majority vote thanks to the passage of Proposition 25, but their ability to borrow money or raise fees was limited by voters this week.
Brown said he will be tackling the budget problem "full time" beginning a week from Tuesday, after a post-election vacation. For his own sake, here's hoping he comes back tanned, rested and ready.
-- Anthony York and Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento