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Lawmakers applaud optimism of State of the State address

January 24, 2013 | 11:02 am

APphoto_California BudgetGov. Jerry Brown’s State of the State address drew praise from legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle, but his call for fiscal restraint was interpreted differently by Democrats and Republicans.

"The whole atmosphere now contrasting with the prior years is so much more hopeful, and I think the governor’s leadership and his speech embodies that,'' said state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). "It was just great."

Democratic leaders said they agreed with the governor that the state needs to be restrained in spending, but they said that does not rule out restoring money to programs cut in the past if it becomes available as the economy improves.

"We are in complete agreement that you don’t spend money that you don’t have and we need to focus on a reserve and paying down debt," Steinberg said. But, he added, "if the economy grows and if there is opportunity and if there is headroom to restore some of what was lost of course we are going to."

Republican leaders said they liked the governor’s emphasis on fiscal restraint, but are uncertain the Democratic-controlled Legislature will heed his call.

"He struck some good Republican themes," said Senate Republican leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar. "I just hope the reality of the future matches the rhetoric of today."

Huff said he was disappointed that the governor "did not offer any substantive proposals for job creation or helping California’s working class.'' 

Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway of Tulare also liked the governor’s emphasis on fiscal restraint. "From his call to enact a ‘live within our means’ budget to making education the priority it should be, I see a lot of common ground between Republicans and the governor, and opportunities where we can work together with him," Conway said in a statement.

The only standing ovation during the speech by Republicans and Democrats occurred when the governor said about the financial problems of the state universities: "Tuition increases are not the answer. I will not let the students become the default financiers of our colleges and universities."


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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown at a press conference earlier this month. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press