It's a tricky balance for Brown in 2012, asking lawmakers to approve deeper budget cuts, convincing Californians to pay higher taxes to restore fiscal health and at the same time, spending more by making a bigger investment in expensive public works projects like high-speed rail, renewable energy, and reliable drinking water.
"Putting our fiscal house in order is good stewardship and helps us regain the trust of the people. It also builds confidence in California as a place to invest and realize one's dreams," said Brown.
Not long after Brown's State of the State address, groups representing the poor criticized the latest round of proposed cuts to balance the budget.
"I think it's so sad that it keeps falling on the backs of our children and the vulnerable people," said protester Olivia Belknap.
Republicans says there's no need to raise taxes; more people have jobs and are paying income tax. Sales tax is also up.
"The economy is turning around. Let's not get in the way of it. Let's keep government lean, responsive, and that way we can better grow the jobs," said St. Senator Bob Huff, R-Senate Minority Leader.
Jobs are why Brown continues to support high-speed rail despite the new $100 billion price tag.
"Even though there are many difficult questions left to answer, with respect to the project, the governor recognized the enormous job creation potential of the project," said Speaker John Perez, D-Assembly Speaker.
The governor also proposes big changes to education giving local school districts more power over how they spend their money and giving students fewer tests to make way for more instructional time.
"If we are successful in passing the temporary taxes that I have proposed and the economy continues to expand, schools will be in a much stronger position," said Brown.
Brown just got approval from the attorney general's office to begin gathering signatures for his tax initiative to get it on the November ballot. He's already in Los Angeles selling his plan and he'll head to Orange County and San Diego next.