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California Gov. Jerry Brown Delivers Final State Address

Jan 25, 2018
Originally published on January 26, 2018 11:45 am
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

A one-of-a-kind American politician gave his final state of the state address today - Jerry Brown, California's longest-serving governor and a three-time Democratic presidential candidate. Brown told lawmakers that California is prospering, and he had some warnings. Here's Ben Adler of Capital Public Radio.

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JERRY BROWN: Thank you. Thank you.

BEN ADLER, BYLINE: When Jerry Brown returned to the California governor's office in 2011, nearly 30 years after he finished his first two terms, he inherited a $27 billion deficit and a state mocked by critics, as Brown was quick to remind the crowd in the Assembly chambers today.

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BROWN: The Economist of London pronounced us the ungovernable state. And the Business Insider simply said California is doomed.

ADLER: Now California boasts a multibillion-dollar surplus. Its economy is booming. And Brown touted a list of bipartisan accomplishments - the pension overhaul, a new budget reserve and an extension of the state's cap and trade program to combat climate change.

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BROWN: Their passage demonstrates that some American governments actually can get stuff done even in the face of deepening partisan division.

ADLER: But this was not a speech that railed against President Trump or sought to fire up the resistance. Brown did not mention Trump by name, though he acknowledged the president for approving federal funds to fight wildfires. And despite threats from the Trump administration to arrest state and local politicians who defy federal immigration laws, the governor, who just months ago signed California's sanctuary state law, skipped the subject entirely. Instead, Brown went global, noting the doomsday clock had just moved the minute hand to two minutes to midnight, as close as it's been since the height of the Cold War.

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BROWN: Our world, our way of life, our system of governance. All are at immediate and genuine risk. Endless new weapons systems, growing antagonism among nations, the poison in our politics, climate change - all of this calls out for courage, for imagination and for generous dialogue.

ADLER: Jerry Brown is not the most sentimental of politicians. But the governor, who turns 80 in April, seemed to linger in the moment, knowing his time in public office will end in less than a year. As he wrapped up to a standing ovation, Brown stepped back to the microphone to offer a window into his state of mind.

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BROWN: Keep going. I'm in no hurry. I - nowhere to go.

ADLER: For NPR News, I'm Ben Adler in Sacramento. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.