The Campaign Promises of Jerry Brown

November 1, 2010
By: Forward Observer Research Analysts

Over the past several months, Governor-elect Jerry Brown has engaged in campaign debates, released policy positions on his website, answered questionnaires and submitted to media interviews. Here are 105 specific campaign promises Forward Observer has identified in the public domain as being of particular interest.


Jobs and Economy

  1. Stimulate clean energy jobs, and create 500,000 new green jobs: “California can do this by aggressively developing renewables at all levels: small, onsite residential and business systems; intermediate-sized energy systems close to existing consumer loads and transmission lines; and large scale wind, solar and geothermal energy systems,”1 and “California should continue leading the nation in controlling greenhouse gases and promoting clean energy technology… creating 500,000 new jobs in California."
  2. Appoint a clean energy jobs czar: “I will designate one person, directly accountable to the governor, who will be responsible for ensuring that all energy jobs goals and deadlines are met.”
  3. Invest in and create construction jobs: “Prioritize use of existing state funds and bond authority to maximize job creation in areas such as transportation, construction of education facilities, water infrastructure and clean energy.”
  4. Create a strike team to focus on job retention and creation: “This team will coordinate the many worker-training programs, tax incentives and other state programs to attract and retain jobs. The team will respond to business inquiries, create incentive packages, cut through bureaucratic red tape, help facilitate business location and expansion, and act as a liaison between different state and local agencies involved in permitting. The team will also ensure that we leverage private and federal research dollars to target the greatest opportunities for California businesses and industries. The team will also focus on the unique problems facing small businesses.”
  5. Provide incentives to create manufacturing jobs: “Carefully review a range of incentives to encourage manufacturing jobs; examples include accelerated depreciation and sales tax reduction/elimination for manufacturing equipment. Also review incentives for clean tech manufacturing in California, including state and local purchasing preferences.”
  6. Streamline regulations impeding economic growth: “Speed up regulatory processes and eliminate duplicative functions. Develop CEQA guidelines that accelerate permitting for renewable energy and smart growth/transportation projects and consider other reforms.[…] As for existing regulations, I would target for review those rules that are slowing down projects, proving to be onerous or otherwise impeding economic growth.”
  7. Overhaul workforce training programs: “Improve job-training programs. Job training is spread among a number of different public and private entities, including community colleges, apprenticeship programs and local workforce training boards. These efforts need to be made more effective and more relevant to the actual workplace. Expand the California Conservation Corps to provide jobs and training for young adults.”
  8. Ensure the Public Utility Commission’s $1 billion annual energy efficiency program prioritizes job creation: “We should also work with the Public Utility Commission to ensure that its $1 billion annual energy efficiency program prioritizes job creation in the programs it selects.”
  9. Accelerate the planning and construction of high-speed rail in California: “Support high speed rail as a clean, fast, accessible alternative to air transportation and long in-state automobile trips. This will create jobs and bring our communities closer together. As our airports and highways become more crowded, the need for high speed rail becomes even more acute.”
  10. Strengthen the port system: “Our regional ports are a key component in the global supply chain and can be an important source of new jobs. I will champion the expansion of our ports and the supporting infrastructure to make them cost competitive.
  11. Provide incentives to industries developing electric vehicles and advanced biofuels in California.
  12. Target existing state regulations that slow down projects, or impede economic growth, for review.

State Budget and Operations

  1. Reform the way state budgets are negotiated: “The traditional budget process is broken and can no longer produce a budget either on time or without resorting to gimmicks. To remedy this situation, I will conduct budget negotiations in a manner that is radically different from the current ‘business as usual’ approach. I also will propose some structural revisions to the budget process that will help keep spending under control.”
  2. Engage with legislators about the budget directly, beginning in November 2010: “My goal will be to work with all the Republican legislators to ensure that they produce and come forward with their best offer of a funded budget proposal; I will do the same with the Democrats.”
  3. “Adopt a ‘pay-as-you-go’ funding approach”: “I will veto legislation that proposes new spending programs without adequate revenue sources. I will also propose a constitutional amendment to require that any ballot initiative must provide an adequate revenue source for any new spending mandated by the law.”
  4. Penalize legislators for failing to pass a budget on time: “Win adoption of legal changes that would penalize state leaders (both executive and legislative) if they don’t pass a budget on time. Examples include suspension of pay, per diems, car allowances, etc. and a moratorium on any non-emergency legislation until a budget is passed.”
  5. Create a rainy day fund: “The nature of our economy is that it swings back and forth between expansion and recession. In order to have funds available during economic downturns, the State must create a rainy day fund. We need to avoid the temptation to make ongoing commitments at the height of the economic booms that are not sustainable during economic downturns.”
  6. Identify and use revenue spikes in the budget for non-recurring expenses only: “Identify nonrecurring—or spikes—in revenue and use such funds only to pay down debt, on capital projects, or to build up the rainy day fund.”
  7. Cut spending in the Governor’s office, in the Legislature, and in the Courts: “Review and cut wasteful spending for all state agencies, starting at the top. The staff and expenses in the governor’s office have grown significantly since I was there. I will make immediate cuts, especially in the areas of press and communications, lawyers and other staff who are duplicative with agency and department personnel. I will also reduce other operational costs and discretionary spending, like overtime and travel. I will require all other state departments and agencies to do the same. Any budget I sign will require similar reductions on the part of the legislature and the Judiciary and their respective staffs.”
  8. “Fight court-imposed spending”: “With respect to prisons and criminal justice, the federal courts have issued numerous decisions—and past administrations have entered into consent decrees--that intrude upon the legitimate authority of the state and make management of state institutions far more difficult and expensive. […] As Governor, I will not enter into these kinds of consent decrees. Understanding the law and its intricacies—as I do--can save the state billions of dollars.”
  9. Go after companies that avoid state taxes: “Many underground employers cut costs-and compete unfairly- by refusing to pay payroll and other required state taxes. As Attorney General, I set up a dedicated unit to go after these crooks and to get needed revenue to the state. We must ramp up these efforts, including criminal prosecution against the worst violators.”
  10. “Reconstitute a tax review commission”: “Recently the Parsky Commission took on the difficult task of reviewing California’s complicated tax structure and made recommendations for significant change. Unfortunately, no consensus was achieved. While I am fully aware of the difficulties of ever changing our tax structure, I would try again by establishing a similar commission that could build on the hard work already completed. I would be actively involved to ensure the high level focus needed to arrive at consensus.”
  11. Increase auditing of and compliance by state agencies: “We should also increase cooperation of government agencies to improve auditing, enforcement and compliance to collect unpaid taxes and to root out unemployment and workers comp fraud.”
  12. “Fully utilize the Office of Administrative Law”: “…an office I created as Governor to reign in regulatory excess. I would reinvigorate the office and provide the leadership needed to ensure that new regulations stick to the clear intent of a law and do not go beyond what is reasonable.”
  13. Review and overhaul information technology in state government: “Numerous systems are outdated and are not integrated between necessary departments; new system investments have been improperly planned and implemented, resulting in delays and large cost overruns. Serious review of our current usage of technology is long overdue and necessary to ensure the effective and efficient operation of government services. [..] Adopt information technology that will pay for itself by increasing revenue through allowing the various state agencies to share their information in a timely and efficient manner.”
  14. Create an executive team get more federal revenue: Brown’s budget plan detailed ways to secure more federal revenue: “[…] the Governor’s office played an important role in mobilizing local school districts and the Legislature to better position California to win “Race to the Top” funds. This model should be used to obtain other federal funds. Another example: Instead of waiving Community College tuition for certain low-income students, help them secure the $500 million in federal Pell grants that California students are eligible for and that would offset Community College costs to the state.”28 Regarding the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), “[…] this year alone California is
    expected to spend more than $900 million incarcerating criminal alien inmates but is only expected to receive $111 million in SCAAP reimbursements. We must fight to close this $800 million reimbursement gap and get our State and local governments the money they are owed.”
  15. Stop pension spiking and abuse: “Pensions are meant to be a percentage of regular salary. Unfortunately, there are a number of reported instances (most often at the local level) where special bonuses, last minute promotions, excessive overtime, or other gimmicks are used to artificially inflate final compensation and consequently the favored employee’s pension. These abuses must be stopped. Pension benefits should be based on normal, recurring salary only. […] We should return to a rule where ‘final compensation’ is based on the average of the last 3 years of salary, not just the final year.”
  16. “Renegotiate retirement benefits for new employees”: “I intend to renegotiate current pension formulas. We should require employees to work longer and to a later age for full retirement benefits.” 
  17. “Stop retroactive application of benefit enhancements”: “To date, when new retirement benefits have been approved/negotiated, those new benefits have applied retroactively to years already worked. That practice should be ended.”
  18. “Increase employee contributions for all employees”: “Recently, a number of unions have agreed to increase their current employee contributions to 10% of salary. This will save California as much as $100 million in the upcoming fiscal year. We need to obtain similar increases in the employee contributing rate for the other government employees. We must consider extending vesting periods to qualify for retiree health care and also negotiate greater employee contributions to retirement health plans.”
  19. “Prohibit pension ‘holidays’”: “We must require consistent contributions to public pension funds over time - no more “contribution holidays” by employers or employees. This will ensure that we maintain funds adequate to pay promised benefits and that the state’s annual pension obligations are steady, adequate and predictable.”
  20. “Establish independent oversight of pension funds”: “We must ensure that public pension decisions are actuarially sound and free of improper outside influence by requiring absolute transparency of all investment policies and decisions. We also need to ensure that investment decisions are prudent. The Director of Finance, reporting to the Governor, should monitor actuarial assumptions, anticipated annual rate of investment return, and investment activities of the pension boards to create more openness and opportunity for public accountability.” 
  21. “Heighten pension board standards and accountability”: “We must hold Board members accountable as fiduciaries/trustees to ensure prudent investment decisions and to guard against undue influence of reckless Wall Street practices and special interests. Board members must be required to undergo specialized training to ensure that they can fulfill their duties as knowledgeable and effective pension fund trustees.” 
  22. “Curb or prohibit placement agents”: “Fees paid to placement agents have increased the costs of our state pension systems. Recently, three private equity firms agreed to cut management fees to CalPERS by $165 million by eliminating placement agents. Going forward, we need to carefully control or eliminate the use of placement agents to generate savings for the pension systems and increase the integrity of the CalPERS investment process.”
  23. “Increase revenue from state property”: “The State can significantly increase revenue and energy security by leasing state properties to renewable energy developers. The state could lease roofs and parking lots of state facilities, rights-of-way for highways, canals and levees, and some state lands for renewable energy development that would generate revenue, create jobs and increase energy security.”
  24. Minimize cuts to programs that bring matching federal funds to California.
  25. “Set up a state/local government task force to develop recommendations to put more power at the local level”40: “We’ve got to take the power from the state capitol and move it down to the local level, closer to the people….

Water, Agriculture, and the Environment

  1. Implement AB 32: “I want to stand firm on AB 32, our climate and new energy jobs bill; I don’t want to suspend it like Meg Whitman does. We should stay the course and create those new green jobs.”
  2. Control shipping vessel emissions: “Enlist Congressional and Obama Administration support for controlling air emissions from shipping through the International Maritime Organization. Ocean-going vessels are a major source of air pollution.[…] Require vessels entering California waters to reduce speeds, substantially lessening harmful air emissions.”
  3. Take all necessary steps to ensure that vessels docked in California ports use onshore electric power rather than burning dirty bunker fuel.
  4. Enforce water quality laws: “As Governor, I will strive to make California's drinking water safe by…Appointing State and Regional Water Board members who thoughtfully enforce state and federal water quality laws.”
  5. Strengthen regulation of wastewater discharge: “As Governor, I will strive to make California's drinking water safe by… Strengthening programs that regulate discharge of wastewater into California's rivers, lakes and streams.”
  6. Establish a new water agency: “Create a permanent Office of Agricultural Water Supply Improvement to facilitate water sales and transfers benefiting agriculture.”
  7. Create integrated regional water management plans: “As Governor, I will… Support development and implementation of Integrated Regional Water Management Plans that address surface and groundwater supplies and quality, as well as associated ecosystem and habitat needs and benefits.”
  8. Balance consideration for the ecosystem and a reliable water supply in a new Delta Plan: “As Governor, I will… Ensure that the newly-formed Delta Stewardship Council completes a Delta Plan that achieves the co-equal goals of restoring the Delta ecosystem and creating a more reliable water supply for California.”
  9. “Require the Delta Stewardship Council and Department of Water Resources to integrate sea level rise and other climate change impacts into the Delta Plan.”
  10. Consider the environment when supporting water storage projects: “As Governor, I will… Support infrastructure investments, including water storage projects that achieve the multiple goals of increasing water supply reliability, protecting the environment and other public benefits, such as wetlands protection and restoration, and flood protection.”
  11. Ensure that beneficiaries of water projects pay for the benefits they receive: “As Governor, I will…Support conveyance and storage investments, such as a peripheral canal or tunnel, that provide a net benefit in ecosystem and water quality conditions and where the beneficiaries pay for the benefits they receive.”
  12. Implement SB 7x7: “As Governor, I will… Fully implement Senate Bill 7x7 which calls for improved water efficiency by both urban and agricultural users.”
  13. Adopt water efficiency standards for appliances: “As Governor, I will… Direct the California Energy Commission in coordination with the Department of Water Resources to adopt water efficiency standards for appliances that reduce both water and energy consumption and to adopt public education programs similar to "Flex our Power" to increase water efficiency.”
  14. Improve permitting for water reclamation: “As Governor, I will… Consolidate and facilitate the permitting of recycled and reclaimed water projects.”
  15. Incentivize environmentally friendly agriculture: “As Governor I will… Seek partnerships between agricultural, environmental and urban water users which better utilize water supplies to serve multiple uses, such as providing incentives to farmers and agricultural districts to implement agricultural practices that benefit the environment while improving crop productivity.”
  16. Ensure that the Strategic Growth Council provides resources for more sustainable local development: “Improving the quality of life in California communities requires that jobs be located closer to where people live, thereby allowing people to spend less time commuting and more time with their families and friends.”
  17. Ensure a healthier habitat for California’s unique fish species: “Take reasonable steps to ensure a healthier habitat for California’s unique fish species by limiting sediment and other runoff entering streams, replacing culverts that impede fish passage with salmon-friendly pipes, and working with local ranchers to fence off cattle from sensitive streams.”
  18. Assure funding to maintain existing parks and wildlife areas: “Parks, open space and abundant wildlife are fundamental to a vibrant California. Wilderness and open spaces protect California’s unique natural beauty, wildlife, water quality, and renowned outdoor recreation.”
  19. Fight invasive species through improved inspection practices: “Increase programs to fight invasive species that damage crops (e.g. European Grape Vine Moth) and diseases that threaten livestock. We should strengthen our system of agricultural inspection stations at the state's borders, ports and airports.”
  20.  Direct growth away from the most productive agricultural land.
  21. Increase enforcement efforts aimed at controlling urban and agricultural runoff.
  22.  Complete and implement California’s Climate Adaptation Plan aimed at protecting against sea level rise, salt water intrusion, and increased erosion.
  23. Support the Green Chemistry Initiative to reduce chemical hazards in consumer products.
  24. Protect children from toxic chemicals: Too many times, we have learned after the fact that toys and bottles are contaminated with lead or other harmful chemicals.”
  25. “Focus resources on protection and restoration of wetlands and riparian habitat that protect water quality and provide buffers against flooding and sea level rise.”
  26. “Prioritize levee repairs to protect existing communities and water supplies.”
  27.  “Implement state programs to assist farmers and irrigation districts to improve irrigation efficiency.”
  28. “Use the State Water Project, within the limits of existing contracts, to facilitate water transfers that improve agricultural viability.”
  29. “Support incentives for increased water efficiency and recycling”
  30. “Increase incentives and remove regulatory/permitting hurdles for infill development (near transportation and business hubs).”


  1. Streamline review of renewable energy projects by key state agencies: “Renewable energy projects are being delayed because of overlapping review between the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the Independent System Operator (ISO). I will make these two agencies work in tandem so that current delays are ended. I would also look at the practicality of merging certain functions now shared among these agencies and the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).p…] Many parts of state government weigh in on power plant site approvals, such as the Department of Fish and Game and water quality agencies. I will get these agencies all on the same page and speed up permit approvals.”72 “The CEC should “fasttrack” projects based on their anticipated ability to deliver clean energy to market. The permitting time for these projects—which now can take 6 to 8 years—should be dramatically reduced, and in no case be longer than three years.”
  2. Introduce more hybrid, electric and alternative fuel vehicles: “By 2015, California should have 250,000 full or partial plug-in electric vehicles. Cities and counties, as well as the State, should accelerate the use of clean vehicles through fleet purchasing requirements.”
  3. Promote the development and use of advanced biofuels: “Take all reasonable steps to promote the development and use of advanced biofuels—from algae, agricultural waste and biodiesel.”
  4. Build 12,000 MWs of Localized Electricity Generation: “California should develop 12,000 megawatts of localized energy by 2020. Localized energy is onsite or small energy systems located close to where energy is consumed that can be constructed quickly…”
  5. Create the California Solar Highway: “Solar energy projects up to 20 megawatts in size should be built on public and private property throughout the state. For example, we should create the California Solar Highway by placing solar panels alongside our state highways.”
  6. Implement a system of carefully calibrated renewable power payments: “The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) or Legislature should implement a system of carefully calibrated renewable power payments (commonly called feed in tariffs) for distributed generation projects up to 20 megawatts in size. Holding down overall rates must be part of the design.”
  7. Codify a requirement that 33% of the state’s electricity be derived from renewable sources: “The Legislature should codify a requirement that 33% of the state’s electricity be derived from renewable sources. This will create market certainty and drive investment in renewable technologies.”
  8. Increase revenue from state property through renewable energy partnerships: “The State can significantly increase revenue and energy security by leasing state properties to renewable energy developers. The state could lease roofs and parking lots of state facilities, rights-of-way for highways, canals and levees, and some state lands for renewable energy development that would generate revenue, create jobs and increase energy security.
  9. Develop and introduce Smart Grid technology: “Work with regulators and utilities to develop and introduce Smart Grid technology to provide greater transmission efficiency, renewable energy and system reliability.”
  10. Reduce peak energy demands and promote the development of energy storage: “The reliability of our energy system depends on the ability to meet peak power demand… Energy storage will help reduce the need for peaker plants and imports of out of state coal.”82 “The California Public Utilities Commission and the state’s municipal utilities should adopt policies and incentives that promote the development of energy storage.”
  11. Establish a plan and a timeline to make new homes and commercial buildings in California zero net energy: “We should establish a plan and a timeline to make new homes and commercial buildings in California ‘zero net energy’—highly efficient structures that use onsite renewable energy for all their electricity and natural gas needs.”
  12. Provide incentives for retrofits and efficiency upgrades: “Half of all California homes were built before current building standards were adopted. Energy consumption in these homes can be reduced by 40% if the CPUC and municipal utilities provide incentives for retrofits and efficiency upgrades.”
  13. Develop more combined heat & power (CHP) projects: “Combined heat and power projects (also known as cogeneration) use the excess heat or electricity generated by power plants or industrial facilities… California currently produces 9,249 MW of combined heat and power. With the right incentives, we can increase this by 6,500 MW over the next 20 years.”
  14. Oppose additional offshore oil drilling: “Given the current state of technology, California should not risk the devastation caused by the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.”
  15. Force Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to accept “PACE” (property-assessed clean energy financing): “…the State, local governments, and utilities should make available programs whereby businesses and homeowners could take out loans and pay back the costs of efficiency upgrades (and renewable energy projects) through savings on their property tax or utility bills. It is also imperative to continue the nationwide effort to force Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to accept ‘PACE’ (property-assessed clean energy financing).”
  16. Provide homebuyers with information about a home’s energy use before purchasing it: “State law requires that, starting in 2011, commercial owners have to disclose energy use to potential buyers. This same program should be extended so that homebuyers receive information about a home’s energy use before purchasing it.”
  17. Prepare a renewable energy plan by July 1, 2011: “The California Energy Commission (CEC) should prepare a renewable energy plan by July 1, 2011, that will expedite permitting of the highest priority generation and transmission projects.”
  18. Build 8,000 MWs of large scale renewables & necessary transmission lines.

Education, Health, and Public Safety

  1. Convene a “representative group” to create a new higher education Master Plan: “This situation calls for a major overhaul of many components of the postsecondary system. We need to convene a representative group to create a new state Master Plan.”
  2. Create an online “extended University” program: “The introduction of online learning and the use of new technologies should be explored to the fullest, as well as ‘extended University’ programs. Technology can increase educational productivity, expand access to higher learning, and reduce costs.”
  3. Decrease the delay between when students take accountability tests and receive scores: “Typically, tests are given in the spring over a 3-day period and results come back in August. Final school accountability scores aren’t ready for almost a year. These tests should be reduced in scope and testing time, and results need to be provided to educators and parents far more quickly.”
  4. Supplement annual assessments with short assessments during the year: “These year-end tests should be supplemented by very short assessments during the school year. The assessment goal should be to help the teachers, students and their families know where they stand and what specific improvements are needed.”
  5. Reduce the number of categorical funding groups to fewer than 20 categories: “Change school funding formulas and consolidate most of the 62 existing categorical programs. Instead of the current bureaucratic, report driven process—which has 62 different categories for funding—we should implement a simple pupil weighted formula based on specific needs of the students in the school district. The number of categories should be reduced to less than 20. The consolidated money from the categorical programs would then be distributed on the basis of the weighted formula, not expensive and complex processes. For example, extra funding should be provided for English language learners, low income families and other obvious needs.”
  6. Provide a “base amount” grant to schools to provide specific results and supplement based on identifiable needs: “There will be a completely flexible ‘base amount’ grant to all districts that is related to what the state expects students to know and be able to do. On top of this base will be a separate targeted amount to school districts based on identifiable needs. This new system would be phased in over time.”
  7. Reduce and simplify the CA education code: “California’s education code comprises 12 volumes and thousands of pages. It is the largest in the nation. […] Now California controls both what schools should provide and how they should do it. This is regulation run amok. We need to dramatically simplify the Education Code and give school districts more flexibility on how best to meet state standards. We should hold schools accountable for outcomes, not issue minute prescriptions from Sacramento on how to achieve those outcomes.”
  8. Increase online programs for science, technology, engineering and math: “We should expand curriculum and teaching materials in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] subjects, including online and virtual programs, enhanced teaching materials, partnerships with high tech companies and hands-on learning opportunities.”
  9. Reduce “excessive state mandates”: “Reduce excessive state education mandates and prescriptions that interfere with local flexibility. We should allow school districts—where possible--to determine how best to spend scarce educational dollars.”
  10. Implement the new federal health care law: “Interestingly, the Democratic candidate for governor is Jerry Brown, the state's current attorney general. He has scoffed at the idea of challenging the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”
  11. “Align program responsibilities” between state and local governments on health programs: “In various health and welfare programs, the state and local governments share authority in ways that blur responsibility and drive up costs. I would work to align program responsibility with revenue authority so that the entity that manages the program is also responsible to pay for it.”
  12. “Enter into consent decrees with the courts over prisons”: “As Governor, I will not enter into these kinds of consent decrees. Understanding the law and its intricacies—as I do--can save the state billions of dollars.”
  13. “Reduce offsite medical visits for prisoners and increase tele-medicine”: “Cut prison health care costs by reducing expensive offsite doctor/specialist/hospital visits, employing tele-medicine, standardizing pharmacy practices and revamping management structure.”
  14. Expand the state’s anti-gang efforts: “California Attorney General Jerry Brown promised to expand the state's anti-gang efforts by cracking down on prison gangs — such as the Nuestra Familia, Mexican Mafia and Aryan Brotherhood — if he is elected governor.”
  15. “Expedite AB 900 spending to improve and accelerate re-entry programs.”
  16. “Improve CDCR’s ability to use data to monitor its operations.”
  17. “Change from fee for service to managed care wherever possible” in Medi-Cal.
  18. “Fight court interference with state cost-control measures” for Medi-Cal.
  19. “Explore creating a joint negotiating team with CalPERS, Medi-Cal and other purchasers ofmedical services to hold down rates.”