Brown faces daunting task as Calif's next governor

November 3, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
On Wednesday, governor-elect Jerry Brown promised to work with Republicans and listen to the people, without waiting until he takes office, but just how plans to pull the state out of its budget mess remains a mystery -- even to Brown. Brown coasted to victory over Meg Whitman on Election Day by more than 12 percent, a margin of a million votes.

The most frequently asked question at Brown's news conference was "Where's the money?" Reporters asked how about how he plans to fill a $12 billion deficit when voters are telling him loud and clear they don't want to pay more.

Brown responded, "Well that's the real question. What does California need, what does California want, and what is California prepared to pay?"

Brown said it's up to the people, so does he anticipate asking for a vote on new taxes?

"I don't anticipate anything the day after the election. What I do commit myself to is to working hard to find every item of either waste or low-priority spending throughout state government," said Brown.

But finding money is going to be a good deal harder after election night. By passing Prop 25, voters made it easier to pass a budget with a simple majority, but with Prop 22, they also clamped down on the state's ability to borrow from local governments. Also, by passing Prop 26, voters made it harder to raise fees.

"On the one hand the people said, 'By a majority, give us a budget' and on the other hand they said, 'Don't pick my pocket.' So this will take all the knowhow I said I had and all the luck of the Irish as we go forward," said Brown.

That sums up the dilemma, but does he intend to get voters to decide what should be in the budget?

"Well that's an interesting question. I've thought about that, it's a bit cumbersome," asked Brown.

Brown said he may ask for a referendum or some ratification from voters, but what does he suggest they ratify?

"Well given the fact that we only have one governor, I don't think it would be appropriate for me to make proposals until I actually become the governor," said Brown.

He did say he state workers will have to face reality when it comes to pensions. They'll either have to contribute more or take less when they retire. He back-tracked on a earlier statement that he would live in Sacramento. He plans to live in his $1.8 million Oakland home and find a place to sleep in Sacramento.

"Well, I'm not selling this house until it retains its original value and that may take a lot of work on my part," said Brown.

Ask one final time where does he see the revenue coming from.

"I see the revenue coming from a restored California economy. That's where it always comes from," says Brown.

How California gets there, is the challenge. Brown admitted he doesn't know and added Nobel-winning economists don't agree on how it'll happen, but if it doesn't grow enough, he warned, we're going to have a very difficult, painful, and acrimonious process in Sacramento.

Brown plans to meet with Governor Schwarzenegger and other top legislative leaders in Sacramento Thursday afternoon.