There could not be a more stark contrast between New York Governor and Democrat Andrew Cuomo and California’s Jerry Brown. In 2011, Cuomo brought reform to New York and did so again in 2012 by getting pension reform passed through his legislature. Cuomo has become a leader of all New Yorkers and demonstrated that even a Democrat can bring about difficult reforms – even if they do not go as far as I might prefer. Jerry Brown, on the other hand, has no such ability or ambition.
Cuomo’s 2011 record includes property tax relief, reductions in the number of New York state workers, reductions in spending as well as salary freezes for government workers. Reading from Cuomo’s January 2012 press release, we find that Cuomo projected:
“Closing the current budget gap with no new taxes, fees or gimmicks, and including zero growth in State agency spending . . . Eliminating automatic spending inflators and implementing reforms throughout the budget to ensure that spending increases for service providers reflect performance and actual cost . . . Creating a pension reform plan that will save State taxpayers and local governments outside New York City $83 billion, and will save New York City $30 billion over the next 30 years.”
With respect to the latter, Cuomo recently pushed the New York legislature to endure an all-nighter that produced not the $113 billion in pension savings Cuomo wanted but, instead, a substantial savings of $88 billion. Those savings passed the Democrat-majority New York Assembly by a vote of 93-45 and included much needed 401k-style reforms.
On the same day that Cuomo and the New York Democrats were enacting reforms that will help all of New York, Jerry Brown was meeting with public employee unions behind doors to reach an agreement on raising taxes that will hurt all Californians.
Meanwhile, the number of California state workers has grown under Brown and his paltry pension reforms, which will provide savings that are a fraction (less than one-third) of New York’s, languishes in the California legislature despite Republican support. Why? Because Jerry Brown can’t get the California public employee unions’ permission to pass the bill – let alone muster the votes of enough California Democrats.
In January of this year, I called on Jerry Brown to sit down with Republican and Democrat leaders and tackle modest reforms upon which all could agree - no matter how small. The point of the exercise would be to prove to California voters that consensus can be reached and that California could be governed.
In order to achieve that, however, Brown would have to be Governor of all Californians – not just its public employee unions. The needs and the concerns of California’s Central Valley farmers, the record long-unemployed, small business owners, inner-city students and more need to be heard as well.
We need a governor with a plan for all of California. Tax hikes crafted in back rooms show this Governor lacks vision and that he doesn’t understand that California lacks jobs because the costs of doing business in this state is too high already.
In no uncertain terms, it’s time for new leadership in California. Jerry Brown still has time to follow Andrew Cuomo’s lead but not that much time. 2014 is closer than he thinks.