Fresh off a legislative session in which Republicans killed his tax plan, Gov. Jerry Brown went into campaign mode Monday, attacking the GOP in a barn-burning speech before thousands of union delegates at a labor convention in Las Vegas.
Brown told union members to focus their energies on reelecting President Obama, retaking the U.S. House of Representatives -- and perhaps helping him increase his Democratic majority in the California Legislature. He boasted about signing a bill that would make it easier for farmworkers to organize and said increased tax revenues would mean more public works projects and more jobs for the decimated ranks of the country’s construction workers.
“Yes, that takes some tolls or fees or taxes, but that’s an investment in ourselves and our own people rather than buying stuff that’s made for 50 cents an hour, 25 cents an hour, 10,000 miles away,” Brown told the gathering of the Laborer's International Union of North America.
The governor railed against Republicans who blocked his tax plan.
“There’s this idea that [if] you have a little extra tax, that somehow that’s an evil,” Brown said. “And we’ve got a group in California, that every time you try to raise a little money for more roads and more dams, for more bridges, for more train tracks, they block it.”
Brown rallied the crowd with a red-meat speech that served as a call to arms for next year’s elections, invoking former President Harry Truman and saying Democrats should run against the “do-nothing House of Representatives.”
“As governor of California, I refuse to let the Republicans and the non-union contractors get away with their schemes to reduce wages,” he said to applause and tooting air horns. “We’re not poor, we’re just poor in some of the politics that drives the country and I’m counting on you and your allies in organized labor to turn that around because it’s not going to come without a fight.”
He blamed Republicans’ opposition on the clout of taxpayer groups, especially the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., which urged Republicans to oppose Brown's package.
“It’s amazing that actually elected people are so subject to that kind of political pressure,” he said.
Brown ended his speech at the Paris Las Vegas casino with an invitation for the delegates to visit California.
“It’s not as hot” as Las Vegas, he said. “You won’t lose as much money in the slot machines. You’ll have just as much fun. And, if you get arrested, I can pardon you.”
-- Michael J. Mishak in Las Vegas
Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks in Long Beach earlier this year. Photo Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times