Brown meets with local leaders about budget crisis

Brown meets with local leaders about budget crisis

January 4, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
On his first full day on the job, reporters met Gov. Jerry Brown, D-California before he stepped into a meeting with county leaders to pitch a controversial, but money-saving idea.

"I do hit the ground running, and I just look forward to it, and I think the tone will be one, at least in the beginning, one of good will," says Brown.

Brown's proposal is called "re-alignment," making Sacramento run fewer programs, like welfare and parole, and shifting the responsibility to counties. That move makes local leaders nervous.

"A shift in responsibility needs to be accompanied by a shift in revenue. There needs to be adequate funding for the program responsibilities that counties are taking on," says Paul McIntosh, from the California State Association of Counties.

But the fact that Brown reached out to county leaders and met them in their offices to talk about responsibility shifts surprised them. It signals a new type of leadership in Sacramento, which had a habit of grabbing local money over the years to balance the state budget.

"Typically, they will call us only when they need us for something. And this is not to just need us for something. This is to bring us to the table to be their partner and I think that's what so encouraging to all of us at the county level," says John Tavaglione, a Riverside County Supervisor.

Lawmakers have already noticed the difference. Even rank-and-file politicians have had meetings with Governor Brown.

"It's so amazing the difference. It's not meant as a criticism of Gov. Schwarzenegger. But they come from completely different backgrounds. They're different people. Arnold is a showman. I would say Jerry Brown is a statesman," says Assm. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord.

This good feeling of comradery and change may not last long. Brown releases his state budget proposal on Monday and there will be plenty of money-saving ideas people won't like.

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