Surfing with the Governor
I don’t know if Governor Jerry Brown, a life-long Californian, has ever actually been surfing, but he is currently riding a wave of political acumen, popularity and good fortune that could qualify him to compete in the elected official’s equivalent of the “Mavericks” big surf contest.
Some of his earlier public policy wins are well documented; 2011 realignment, pension reform, and passage of Proposition 30 come to mind. Whether you like these policies or not, the Governor clearly does and he was the driving force behind them in his first two years in office.
More recently, the Governor has offered a balanced budget for the first time in almost a decade, he won an extension from the Federal Courts, giving the state six more months to find ways to further reduce the prison population, and, while certainly not solely of his doing, Democrats enjoy a supermajority in the Legislature. The Governor may have more arguments this session with his own party than with Republicans. We should all have such problems no?
Now comes two more high-surf advisories for the Governor to ride. The Legislative Analyst’s Office reports California is about $5 billion ahead of expected tax collections, and a recent Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll finds public approval is growing for the Governor personally, and for his policy objectives including his budget and his school funding plan. The poll also finds 75 percent of Californians think the state is heading in the right direction, and 69 percent expect “good times” in the next 12 months.
So, is it Jerry Brown’s political acumen, or simply his good fortune to be Governor when the economy is finally turning the corner after a long, deep recession? I believe it was Ernest Hemmingway who coined the phrase “You make your own luck.” In the Governor’s case, perhaps we could change that to “You ride your own wave.”