California State of the State Address, 2017

Edmund G. Brown Jr.

January 24, 2017

(Thank you, I'm not sure what that reference to the calendar was. I don't have a calendar. Although I know the days are drawing near).

Anyway. Thank you very much. Thank you for all that energy and the enthusiasm. It's just what we need for the battle ahead. So keep it up and don't falter.

This is California, we're sixth most powerful economy in the world. One out of every eight Americans lives right here and 27 percent -- almost eleven million -- were born in a foreign land.

When California does well, America does well. And when California hurts, America hurts. And when we defend California, we defend America.

As the English poet, John Donne, said almost 400 years ago:

"No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main... and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

A few moments ago, I swore into office our new attorney general. Like so many others, he's the son of immigrants who saw California as a place where, through grit and determination, they could realize their dreams. And they're not alone, millions of Californians have come here from Mexico and a hundred other countries, and have come here making our state what it is today: vibrant, even turbulent, and a beacon of hope to the rest of the world.

We don't have a Statue of Liberty with its inscription: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" But we do have the Golden Gate and a spirit of adventure and openness that has welcomed -- since the Gold Rush of 1848 -- one wave of immigration after another.

For myself, I feel very privileged to stand before you this morning as your governor, as did my father almost sixty years ago. His mother, Ida, my grandmother, the youngest of eight children, was born in very modest circumstances, not very far from where we are gathered today. Her father arrived in California, right here in Sacramento in 1852, having left from the Port of Hamburg, aboard a ship named "Perseverance." I just learned that last year.

Perserverance. It's that spirit of perseverance and courage which built our state from the beginning. And it's that spirit which will get us through the great uncertainty and the difficulties ahead.

It is customary on an occasion like this to lay out a specific agenda for the year ahead. Six times before on this rostrum, I have done exactly that, with enormous detail. And, as I read those State of the State speeches, I was really amazed to see how much we have accomplished together.

How much all of us have done together:

We've increased -- by tens of billions of dollars -- the support for our public schools and universities.

We've provided health insurance to over five million more Californians.

We've raised the minimum wage.

We've reduced prison overcrowding and most important reformed our system of crime and punishment. And that's really significant.

We've made California a world leader in the fight against climate change.

We passed the water bond.

We built up a rainy day fund.

And we closed a $27 billion deficit.

And during the last seven years, California has reduced the unemployment rate from 12.1 percent to 5.2 percent -- by the way I said California created that -- not us (points around the room) -- we helped a little bit I hope -- and hopefully didn't cost too much interference -- anyway -- almost two and a half million jobs were created. And that's not all.

But this morning it's hard for me to keep my thoughts just on California. The recent election and Inauguration of a new President have shown deep divisions across America.

While no one knows what the new leaders will actually do, there are signs that are disturbing. We have seen the bald assertion of "alternative facts" -- whatever those are -- we've heard the blatant attacks on science. Familiar signposts of our democracy --- truth, civility, working together -- have been obscured or even swept aside.

But on Saturday we saw something else -- in cities across the country, we witnessed a vast and inspiring fervor that is stirring in the land. Democracy doesn't come from the top; it starts at the bottom -- and it spreads in the hearts of the people. And in the hearts of Americans, our core principles are as strong as ever!

So as we reflect on the state of our state, we should do so in the much broader context of our country and the challenges it faces. We must prepare for very uncertain times and reaffirm the basic principles that have made California the Great Exception that it is.

First, in California, immigrants are an integral part of who we are and what we've become. They have helped create the wealth and dynamism of this state from the very beginning!

I recognize that under the Constitution, Federal Law is supreme and that Washington determines immigration policy. But as a state we can and we have played an important role. California has enacted several protective measures for the undocumented: the Trust Act, driver's licenses, basic employment rights and non-discriminatory access to higher education. This is what made the DREAMers, and you made it happen!

We may be called upon to defend those laws and defend them we will. And let me be clear: we will defend everybody --- every man, woman and child -- who's come here for a better life and has contributed to the well-being of our state.

My second point relates to health care. More than any other state, California embraced the Affordable Care Act and over five million people now enjoy its coverage. But that coverage has come with tens of billions of dollars from the federal government. Were any of that to be taken away, our state budget would be directly affected, possibly even devastated. That's why I intend to join with other governors -- and senators - and with you -- to do everything we can to protect the health care of our people. And by the way we're going to fight for Planned Parenthood who have been unfairly attacked in too many places in this country.

Third point, our state is known the world over for the actions we have taken to encourage renewable energy and combat climate change. Whatever they do in Washington, they can't change the facts. And these are the facts: the climate is changing, the temperatures are rising and so are the oceans. Natural habitats everywhere are under stress. The world knows this. 194 countries have signed the Paris Agreement to control greenhouse gases. Our own voluntary agreement to accomplish the same goal -- the "Under Two M.O.U." -- has 165 signatories, representing a billion people.

We can't fall back and give in to the climate deniers. The science is clear. The danger is real.

We can do much on our own and we can join with others -- other states and provinces -- even countries, to stop the dangerous rise in climate pollution. And make no mistake, we're going to do exactly that.

Fourth is infrastructure. Now here's a topic where the President has stated his firm intention to build and build big. In fact he met with several labor leaders yesterday and committed to a 1 trillion dollar investment in public works across America. And I say, "Amen to that man! Amen to that brother! We're there with ya!"

Here's what the President said in his inaugural address:

"We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation."

And in this, we can all work together -- here in Sacramento and also in Washington as well. We have roads and tunnels and railroads and even a dam that the President could help us with (we should get some applause there, shouldn't we Jim)? And that's what's going to create good-paying American jobs.

As we face the hard journey ahead, we will have to summon, as Abraham Lincoln said, "the better angels of our nature." Above all, we have to live in the truth. We all have our opinions but for democracy to work, we have to trust each other. We have to strive to understand the facts and state them clearly as we argue our points of view. As Hugo Grotius said, the famous Dutch jurist, very long ago, "even God cannot cause two times two not to be four."

When the science is clear or when our own eyes tell us that the seats in this chamber are filled and that the sun is shining, we must say so, not construct some alternate universe of non-facts that we find more pleaAnd then there is perseverance. It is not an accident that the sailing ship that brought my great-grandfather to America was named "Perseverance." That is exactly what it took to endure the dangerous and uncertain months at sea, sailing from Germany to America. While we now face different challenges, make no mistake: the future is uncertain and dangers abound. Whether it's the threat to our budget, or to undocumented Californians, or to our efforts to combat climate change -- or even more global threats such as a financial meltdown or a nuclear incident or a terrorist attack -- this is a time which calls for courage and for perseverance -- and I promise you both.

But let's remember as well that after the perilous voyage, those who made it to America found boundless opportunity. And so will we.

Let me end in the immortal words of Woody Guthrie:

"This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to New York Island
From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me...

(And here's the part I really like...)

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me."

California's not turning back. Not now, not ever. His truth is marching on!

enhanced for the web by Joe Crawford @artlung

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