Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown

34th Governor, Democrat
1975–1983

First Inaugural Address

Delivered: January 6, 1975

Second Inaugural Address - January 8, 1979
Third Inaugural Address - January 3, 2011

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, Members of the Judiciary, friends. I probably won't come again to this rostrum for a while. As a matter of fact, I wasn't sure I was going to make it. My father thought I wasn't going to make it, either. But here I am.

Well, this morning I'm not going to give you a formalistic address. I just want to tell you what's on my mind. And what my hopes are for the people of California in the coming year.

First, I think we ought to put this whole thing into perspective. We have all come through an election, and what have we learned? More than half the people who could have voted, refused, apparently believing that what we do here has so little impact on their lives that they need not pass judgment on it. In other words, the biggest vote of all in November was a vote of no confidence. So our first order of business is to regain the trust and confidence of the people we serve.

And we can begin by following not only the letter, but the spirit of the political reform initiative, the biggest vote-getter of all in the primary election. The provisions of Proposition 9 will not always be easy to follow. But I honestly believe that they are the surest and most certain path to a government beyond reproach.

But an honest government is not enough. We also have to be effective. Today, unemployment in this state is well above the national average. That is not just a statistic, it is a reality. Men and women whose futures are uncertain, whose families are anxious, look to us for answers. I know much of the solution lies at the federal level, but I also know that California is the most influential state in the nation. What we do here will not only help our own citizens, it will provide a model for the entire country.

Very shortly I will sign an Executive Order requiring every state agency and department to actively participate in federally-funded public service employment programs.

Before the month is out, hundred of men and women who are on unemployment or welfare will be performing meaningful jobs. My administration will work closely with the federal government.

We are going to use to the fullest the millions of dollars available to put Californians back to work. We are going to cooperate with local government and industry to create as many new jobs as humanly possible. And as we do we will not ignore the role of women in our work force and the special need for additional child care centers.

Both men and women will have equal opportunity to obtain every available job. In this I look to the legislature for assistance and guidance. I look to the state employees to make this program a reality. Finally, no employment program will be successful without the help of labor and business. The private sector still is, as well as should be, the principal source of employment. For our part, the state must cut through the tangle of overlapping environmental and land use rules which often delay needed construction. In the long run, the air, the water and the land will be protected. But only by clear rules which are fairly enforced and without delay. Just as critical as unemployment is inflation, the cruelest tax of all. Again, major initiatives are required at the national level. But nothing prevents us from doing what we can. And we do that first by keeping the burden of state taxation at a level no higher than it is today.

Avoiding a general tax increase will not be easy. Rising unemployment means reduced state revenues as well as escalating expenditures for health and welfare. But I'm determined to see this year through without asking the people for further sacrifices in the form of new taxes. This means that every branch and department of state government must re-examine itself with a view toward eliminating expenditures not absolutely essential to the well-being of the people. For my part, I propose a flat 7 per cent reduction in my own office budget.

The uncertainty of the economy as well as the need to provide a fair system of school finance make it imperative to keep state expenditures well within current revenues. I also believe it is time to end special privileges once and for all. I will support legislation to eliminate the oil depletion allowance and provide a realistic minimum tax on preference income. In addition I'll support constitutional amendments to remove the home office deduction for insurance companies and the requirement of a two-third vote to alter business taxes.

And while we remove the special privileges of the few, we should not overlook the sacrifices of the many. It is time that we treat all workers alike, whether they work in the city or toil in the fields. This year I hope you will give the governor another chance to sign an appropriate bill including farm workers within the protection of unemployment insurance.

I also believe it is time to extend the rule of law to the agriculture sector and establish the right of secret ballot elections for farm workers. The law I support will impose rights and responsibilities on both farm worker and farmer alike. I expect that an appropriate bill that serves all the people will not fully satisfy any of the parties to the dispute, but that's no reason not to pass it.

As we bring collective bargaining to the fields, we should also establish appropriate mechanisms for public employees to choose the bargaining representative of their choice. All workers, whoever they are, and wherever they are, should be strongly represented and have an effective voice in the decisions that affect their wages and working conditions.

It is a big job ahead. The rising cost of energy, the depletion of our resources, the threat to the environment, the uncertainty of our economy and the monetary system, the lack of faith in government, the drift in political and moral leadership—is not the work of one person, it is the work of all of us working together. I ask your help. We have lot of work to do. Let's get to it. Thank you very much.