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New California Gov. Jerry Brown focuses on tough choices in inauguration speech

January 3, 2011 | 11:54 am

Immediately after being sworn into office, new California Gov. Jerry Brown said that the state's politics had degenerated into "mere spectacle," with the leading political parties remaining "in their comfort zones, rehearsing and rehashing old political positions."

He vowed to find a new way forward, starting with an honest discussion about what it will take to get the state out of fiscal crisis.

"The year ahead will demand courage and sacrifice," the governor said in a speech that lasted 18 minutes. "The budget I propose will assume that each of us elected to do the people's business will rise above ideology. ... There is no other way forward. We need to learn to work together as Californians first, members of a political party second."

He vowed that the spending plan he was to unveil next week would have "no more smoke and mirrors" and "no more empty promises." He also repeated his promise that any taxes proposed would have to be approved by voters.

Brown also said he would immediately get to work on his effort to shift more government power to cities and counties. "My goal is to achieve greater accountability and resist the historic shifting of responsibility back and forth from one level of government to another," he said.

He warned Californians not to have any illusions that the deficit could be closed by making government more efficient. "It is far more than waste and inefficiency we have to take out," he said.

Throughout the speech, he made reference to his own family, starting with a nod to his father, former Gov. Pat Brown, who took the oath of office 52 years ago. He then spoke in detail about the hardships his ancestors endured, German immigrants who traveled in the mid-19th century over the Sierra by covered wagon. Brown read from his great-grandfather's diary of the trip, which detailed oxen, horses and mules lying dead in the fields, overcome by thirst and starvation.

"Stories of courage abound" in this state, Brown said. "The people of California have not lost the pioneering spirit or capacity to meet life's challenges. ... This is a time to honestly assess our financial condition and make the tough choices."

-- Evan Halper in Sacramento

Photos: Jerry Brown inaugurated as California governor

Photo: Jerry Brown was sworn in by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, right, as California's 39th governor with his wife, Anne Gust Brown, at his side inside Sacramento Memorial Auditorium on Monday. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times