The theme of President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 re-election campaign was: It’s Morning in America. He won 49 states, losing only rival Walter Mondale’s native Minnesota.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s State of the State address this morning kicked off a similar theme in what effectively was his re-election pitch. He didn’t imitate Reagan and say, exactly, “It’s Morning in California.” But the meaning still was there. The governor enthused:
“What a comeback it is. A million new jobs since 2010, a budgetary surplus in the billions and a minimum wage rising to $10 an hour!
“This year, Californians have a lot to be proud of. For a decade, budget instability was the order of the day. A lethal combination of national recessions, improvident tax cuts and too much spending created a financial sink hole that defied every effort to climb out. But three years later, here we are – with state spending and revenues solidly balanced, and more to come.”
Of course things are better than when he took office three years ago to clean up the wreckage of the disastrous Schwarzenegger administration. But unemployment in California remains stubbornly high, at 8.5 percent, sixth worst in the country; and well above such rivals as Texas at 6.1 percent and Florida at 6.4 percent. Both those states lack a state income tax, compared to the hefty top California rate of 13.3 percent because of Brown’s Proposition 30 tax increase.
The increase in the minimum wage Brown touted also likely will kill jobs, making unemployment worse.
And a November study by the U.S. Census Bureau found that, when California’s sky-high cost of living was figured into calculations, the state suffered the country’s worst poverty rate.