By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Leaders react to State of the State address
Placeholder Image
In his annual State of the State Address on Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown suggested that massive cuts will be coming to education and social services if the voters reject temporary tax increases this November.

Without the tax measure passing, Brown's office said another $4 billion would be cut from K-12 education budget. That would equate to a $4 million to $5 million cut to the Ceres Unified School District.

In his address, the governor said California is "on the mend" and plugged for the building of the $98.5 billon high-speed rail project in the San Joaquin Valley, creation of green energy jobs and a Delta water project.

"Last year, we were looking at a structural deficit of over $20 billion," said Brown. "It was a real mess. But you rose to the occasion and together we shrunk state government, reduced our borrowing costs and transferred key functions to local government, closer to the people. The result is a problem one fourth as large as the one we confronted last year."

He said raising taxes is not popular but must be done along with more cuts to state spending.

State Senator Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, responded to the governor's address, saying he was looking for the three things: jobs, water and bringing down the "wall of debt."

"It is unacceptable that we continue to face unprecedented levels of unemployment. Our main priority this year should be job creation," said Cannella. "I am glad he agrees that we need to get our fiscal house in order. Though, before we ask Californians to increase taxes, we need action on our structural deficit, which will continually doom the budget process."

State Assemblyman Bill Berryhill, R-Ceres, said the governor's calls for taxes is misguided.

Brown gave as proof that California is "coming back" the statistic that in 2011, California personal income grew by almost $100 billion and "230,000 jobs were created." Berryhill said that's because state tax extensions have expired.

"Now is the time to freeze spending and let the economy grow," said Berryhill. "The state tax extensions have expired, and lo' and behold, state revenues are up. It is a system that works every time it's been put into place.

"We are currently the third highest taxed state in the nation, and we don't want to go for first place. Cut spending to catch up," says Berryhill.

Berryhill also wants to see the state engage in regulatory reform saying, "California businesses can't grow in this over burdensome regulatory climate. Reducing the constraints on businesses creates jobs and tax flow."

Valley lawmakers - including the governor - also stressed for the state to act on water.

"Water must also be a priority," said Berryhill. "The agreement that brought us the water bond was historic. If we think we can fiddle around with it, we will see it fall apart and our opportunity will be squandered."

Berryhill said Brown "seems to be focused on Edmund Brown Sr.'s water plan, which included the construction of three dams and roughly six million acre-feet of water storage, which has never been built. Given that it has not been constructed thus far, we need to consider through-Delta conveyance vs. a peripheral canal."

Berryhill's water plan, Delta Corridors, would protect the Delta and provide water to users who depend on it.

"Californians need to understand what's at stake when we talk about altering the Delta. It is Northern California's Yosemite. When we start tampering with something of that magnitude, we need to be clear of the consequences. It is the economic engine for an entire region and ecosystem for a wintering waterfowl population as well as the West Coast's largest estuary."


Gov. Brown sounded a theme of returning more control of education back to local school districts.

"What most needs to be avoided is concentrating more and more decision-making at the federal or state level," said Brown. "For better or worse, we depend on elected school boards and the principals and the teachers they hire. To me that means, we should set broad goals and have a good accountability system, leaving the real work to those closest to the students."

He called for fewer state tests and quickening the release of the results of testing.

Brown proposes to replace categorical programs with a new weighted student formula that provides a basic level of funding with additional money for disadvantaged students and those struggling to learn English. He said the move will give more authority to local school districts to fashion the kind of programs they see their students need.

"It will also create transparency, reduce bureaucracy and simplify complex funding streams."

Drawing from his 11 years of experience on the Ceres School District Board, Berryhill believes that in this time of limited resources we need to look at the areas where expenditures may be reduced, without harm to the system. He called testing expensive, and said many targeted tests can be eliminated.

He agreed with Brown that test results need be back in a district's hands in a timely manner "in order to be effective tools for improvement."

Berryhill added that classroom evaluations are already a good tool and are currently used by many successful school districts.