BEVERLY HILLS (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown knows California is ailing, but he’s not sharing many details on how he plans to fix it.

The Golden State is home to the nation’s second-highest unemployment rate, troubled public schools, overflowing prisons and a Legislature paralyzed by political bickering. It’s been lurching from budget crisis to budget crisis, while facing tens of billions of dollars in future costs for public-sector retirees that it doesn’t have the money to pay.

The veteran Democratic politician acknowledged the challenges in a rambling discussion at a think-tank conference Thursday, but mostly balked when it came to specifics.

Brown said he will propose a pension fix soon that could go to voters, after earlier attempts stalled.

“I don’t want to give you an exact date, but we are working on it,” he said.

He said schools are desperate for money, but alluded only vaguely to new taxes. He talked in broad strokes about trimming government regulation.

At one point was asked, “What wagons might we need to burn?”

Brown answered, “There are plenty of wagons to burn but I’m not telling you today. I don’t want to let them know that we are coming.”

Brown is nearing the end of his first year in office, after being elected in 2010 to his second stint as governor of the nation’s most populous state. He served two terms from 1975-1983.

Thus far, he has struggled to move the troubled state in a new direction: His fellow Democrats control the Legislature, but Republicans have shunned his budget and tax proposals. The financial outlook is gloomy: Through September, money coming in to the state treasury was running $654 million below projections.

Appearing at a conference sponsored by the Milken Institute, Brown warned that California’s luster — indeed, the nation’s — was in danger of fading. He also lamented the wide gulf between Republicans and Democrats

“We can easily stagnate,” he said.

“America is at risk, looking out on the next 20 years, given the competition in China and other places. And the only way we can overcome it is to work smarter and be smarter, and get a more coherent focus politically and culturally.”

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (7)
  1. Ima says:

    SEIU members like me have been working long and hard, we negotiated our deals, now pay up. There is plenty of money in this State, our Government representatives just need to go out and take it so they can give it to us. Venezulea President Chavez seems to do fine with that plan, it’s time California follow the same one. This State belongs to the People, not greedy businesses. We deserve it, not them, Give it to us, We the People as they say. Let’s set the example for the rest of the country.

  2. DC says:

    I’m a state employee, and I’m overpaid for what I do. Seriously, I push paper all day, so do I ‘deserve’ the 50K+ a year I make in salary? Compared to my private-sector equivalent, probably not. The state (and tax-payers) would save more money by laying me off, but why would I quit when there’s nothing better out there? I suppose I need the health and retirement benefits too, right? The whole system’s rigged folks, wake up.

  3. j says:

    @Ima, I sure hope you are being sarcastic. I know it is hard to recognize but California is not Venezuela.Yet.

  4. jessiejane says:

    Brown is NEVER going to go after the Calif. employees union in any way shape or form. To get California citizens mind off the real problem he starts these crummy bills ie “kids 12” and over being allowed excess to sexually transmitted disease prevention without parental consent, he is condoning 12 yr olds having sex partners. He has a bill making open carry illegal, Portantio of course got him to sign that one going after constitutional rights of the citizens of the USA, they should both be impeached or the Calif. citizens are going to be the slaves of the Ca. employees union and that is a fact. I have worked at a city hall and I know what goes on.

  5. Ima says:

    Would anyone please explain why any State employee is piad more that the top State employee, the Governor. Yet, State University Presidents are earning far more than the Governor … and we wonder why education is so expensive.

    The State CONTINUES TO SPEND MORE THAN IT HAS … we are running out of options.

    Stop all of the Nanny State Entitlements. Stop all of the 6 figure saleries. OR cut to the chase already and confiscate all business, property and cash as property of the State and complete the Nanny State by deciding who can have what and where they can or cannot live.

    I give us ten years or less before taxes, regulations and water restrictions drive the agriculture industry out of the State.

    But some here think that Ima Crazy or Ima Nuts … when you will see that Ima the only one telling you the truth.

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