During Governor Brown’s time in office, those in the Capitol community trying to assess his support or opposition of legislation have often factored one big question into the mix: How will he view his decision in terms of his legacy?
This was on full view in his State of the State address, which confirmed the long-held conventional wisdom that Brown wants to leave a lasting legacy for the Golden State on par with his father, Governor Pat Brown, whose contributions to the state’s infrastructure are legendary. This helps explain the Governor’s fixation on building the Delta tunnels, high-speed rail and zipping off to Europe for climate change summits.
Whether he is able to have success with those lofty global ideals is hard to say, which is a polite way of saying he may fall far short. Time will tell.
But Brown’s legacy has been astonishing and praiseworthy for something far more mundane: He simply has been the adult in the room more often than not.
His concern about the fragile nature of the California economy, his attention to the ticking time bomb of public pension obligations and his disciplined focus on building a rainy-day fund for the state is a major accomplishment – especially when he has had to deal with a liberal Legislature that thinks it prints money and seemingly believes every problem – real and imagined – requires new laws, bans or an expensive government program.
Governor Brown has not been perfect. He has signed some serious anti-business measures into law that could very well come back to haunt the state. Many of his agencies are rogue fiefdoms wildly running amok without checks and balances. But the fact at one time or another he has upset those along the entire political spectrum suggests he has been entirely beholden to few, if any, special interests save Californians and California.
The state’s moderates and independents should be grateful for his fiscal restraint and ability to balance the books. Hopefully, the next governor has been taking copious notes on this vital yet hardly sexy topic.
Governor Brown should be proud of his legacy and contributions to California no matter what happens to his massive pet projects.