Edmund G. Brown Jr.

34th Governor, Democrat

State of the State Address

Delivered: January 7, 1982


  • State of the State Address delivered on January 7, 1976
  • State of the State Address delivered on January 6, 1977
  • State of the State Address delivered on January 5, 1978
  • State of the State Address delivered on January 16, 1979
  • State of the State Address delivered on January 10, 1980
  • State of the State Address delivered on January 8, 1981
  • Before anything else, I must congratulate the men and women who made this unusual building come alive with the memories of our remarkable past. Their craft and artistry are truly impressive.

    In all candor, I must admit I was skeptical of this project.

    In those days, I was thinking of less and couldn't imagine the magnificence of this building and the inspiration it would give to school children to carry our tradition into the 21st century.

    Cressa Myers, a 6th-grader at Sequoia Elementary School, recently wrote:

    "I'm proud that my family has helped build Sacramento for over 127 years... I hope my great-great-great-grandchildren will enjoy visiting the Capitol and that they will think of their heritage too."

    This legislative body had the vision to invest in a dream. Legislators like Lou Papan had the tenacity to see it through. Jim Mills ensured its historical integrity. Al Alquist uncovered the seismic hazard. And Leon Ralph got the project going.

    The faces change but the spirit endures within these walls the home of the Legislature, the seat of a democratic government.

    There is a fair stock of bad news today, crimes in the streets, businesses failing, people thrown out of jobs, toxic chemicals, home prices beyond the reach, electricity and gas costs climbing, family breakups, lonely elderly separated from the pulsating life of the younger generation, brutal repression in Poland.

    Yet, walking through these historic halls turned my thoughts two years past – my father inaugurated 23 years ago in this chamber, his mother born in Colusa County 71 years earlier, and her father leaving St. Louis in March of 1852, and traveling across the plains to Sacramento.

    I wondered what my great-grandfather, August Schuckman, thought about on that long trip? What did he face? Were the difficulties in his path greater than ours?

    Let me read to you from the diary that was kept during that trek westward:

    "On the 20th of June, we came to the first sand desert – it was 41 miles. We went there at night and rode 19 hours in it.

    "Here we came to a river as large as the Weser and had to cross it immediately ... after that we had awful mountains which we ascended and had to come down on the other side risking our lives.

    "On the 26th of July, we came to the second large plain – also 40 miles long. Here we lost 7 oxen which died of thirst. We also had to leave a wagon here. Thousands of cows, horses, and mules were lying about dead. This took 22 hours.

    "The discarded wagons by the hundreds were driven together and burned. We saw wagons standing that would never be taken out again and more than 1,000 guns that had been broken up. Here on this 40 miles are treasures that can never be taken out again."

    Imagine the spirit that drove whose men and women! They were pioneers and they were coming to make a new life – some in gold, some in commerce, most in farming – but all with the confidence that they would find in California, the freedom and opportunity they lacked in the depressing atmosphere of the old world.

    These were men and women who matched our mountains, and in not too many years, built these walls.

    We are bearers of that powerful tradition. It still drives our people and the hundreds from foreign who arrive in our state each day.

    California is the Great Exception, and its dream of unspent potential is as much before us as the day our first elected Governor, Peter Burnett, address this Legislature. In words that were prophetic then, and just as true today, he captured the essence of the challenge before us. I can't improve on his message and I'm going to read part of it to you.

    "Nature, in her kindness and beneficence, has distinguished California by great and decided natural advantages: and these great natural resources will make her either a very great or very sordid and pretty State. She can take no middle course. She has many dangers to encounter, many perils to meet. In all those countries where rich and extensive mines of the precious metals have been heretofore discovered, the people have been indolent, carless, and stupid. This enervating influence operates silently, steadily, and continually, and requires counteracting causes, or great and continued energy of character in people to successfully resist it.

    If she should withstand and overcome this great peril, she will constitute a bright exception to the fate that has attended other State similarly situated."

    And Peter Burnett was right. Every Legislature and every generation faces the temptation to rest on the past, and become indolent, carless, and stupid. Yet each in succession found the counteracting cause and energy of character to keep the California dream alive.

    When the Gold Rush ended, vigorous agriculture took its place. Then railroads, automobiles, oil and gas, the motion picture industry, airplane factories, freeways, suburbs, aerospace, the space shuttle, electronics and microprocessors, Pacific Basin trade and finally biotechnology.

    Each new source of wealth and imagination gave way to even more bold and prosperous endeavors. There have been set-backs – wars, depressions, scandals, raging controversies – but the people who inhabit this State have relentlessly created the most abundant society in the history of the world.

    And I tell you, the people we serve have not ceased, have not changed, have not forgotten the dream that took them or their forebears to California to create the good life.

    In the past decade, the graduates of our schools and universities have led the world in making the transition to a high-technology, resource-efficient, information-based economy.

    In the place of wasteful and environmentally damaging activities, Californians are learning to extract more and more good from each unit of energy used and from each pound of material mined or recycled. Per person, residential natural gas consumption dropped 16.9% from 1976 to 1980, and gasoline consumption fell 4.9% during the same period. Forty-six large power plants, costing $2 billion a piece, thought necessary just 10 years ago, are now found unneeded in today's more efficient economy.

    With support from members of both parties, we have vigorously enforced environmental laws to protect the air, the water, the coast, the wild rivers, and the general quality of life in California. Most of these measures were enacted before my term in office. So the task has been essentially to extend and deepen the commitments made by those who preceded us.

    Far from limiting job growth, such a belief in quality has coincided with the creation of over two million new jobs in California since 1975, a growth rate 40% higher than the national average.

    One out of every four of those new jobs has been created, directly or indirectly, by the electronics, aerospace, and related industries.

    Here again we see the energy of character in the pioneering contribution of our citizens who have miniaturized the computer from huge room-sized machines to dimensions smaller than your finger tip.

    The counteracting cause declared so necessary by Governor Burnett was found in the challenge posed by the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik and President Kennedy's subsequent call for putting a man on the moon. That required pioneering work in computers and aerospace and the results are still driving our economy forward.

    Those who first built this Capitol could not have dreamed that we would convene at a point in time when a few percent of our people could feed all the rest.

    Yet even as we urbanize and pave over more prime agricultural land, our farmers continue to supply about half the nation's fruit and vegetables and much its wine.

    In the last 5 years alone, California agricultural exports have increased 120% and helped position our State as an international trading center.

    Financial institutions from other states and dozens of foreign countries have rushed to our borders to take advantage of the growth that has few parallels in the world.

    Business Week recently reported that California was on e of the five most attractive states for business in the nation. Another prominent business magazine termed us the number one state for venture capital.

    By any measure, there are few places on Earth to compete with this dynamic confluence of diverse people and resources.

    Yet we are not without our flaws, our scars, our sorrows, our fears, our failures. Such is the human predicament that no person and no place can escape the trials that test character and determine whether sufficient virtue exists to overcome the difficulties and carry the tradition forward – transformed, resilient, and open to the succeeding age and it unique demands.

    As in three other times in the last 12 years, our economy is temporarily in recession. This means tighter budgets, lower tax revenues, and rising joblessness. The economists are divided in their forecasts, both for next year and succeeding years.

    It may be that the economy next year will lift our revenue hopes or it may dash them. In the face of such uncertainty I am not going to recommend new taxes that might not be needed. But if conditions do change, I will be prepared to discuss with you all necessary changes in our spending and revenue programs.

    To cover a one-time budget gap, I am recommending certain one-time revenue measures. These will suffice if the economy improves later this year as expected.

    In any event, it is not too soon to begin examining the adequacy of local government revue sources. I have begun meeting with business and labor leaders and will seek your assistance in the coming months to find solutions to the fiscal problems facing local government.

    We have serious fiscal problems but the most significant challenge facing us today requires more than money. I don't understate the need for revenue. It is just that neither gigantic tax increases in the early 70s nor gigantic tax decreases in the late 70s have prepared California to enter the revolutionary information age that is now thrust upon us.

    Electronics, computers, satellites, biotechnology, robotics – these are no longer dreams. They are the driving imperative that is restructuring the world economy. These new technologies are fundamentally changing our communications, agriculture, environment, schooling, financial institutions, family life and our national security.

    California is now the leader in these technologies, but we will not remain so unless we mobilize the political will and individual responsibility to act.

    The first pre-condition is technological literacy. That means our schools must augment the 3 "Rs" with the 3 "Cs" – computing, calculating, and communicating through technology. We will do so or succeeding generations will inherit a society stagnating in the aftershocks of massive foreign imports and obsolete industry.

    Do I exaggerate? Let me quote D. Allen Bromley, President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Just this week he said that our country faces a crisis in support for science and technical education, and "a crumbling elementary and secondary school system." He added that "the fraction of our resources now being invested in long-term research and development is at a low ebb, and it is now less than any time since World War II"

    We know that Japan with half the population of America, graduates more electrical engineers each year. And we know that their high school students do several hours more homework a day and study far more math and science than our own students.

    In California, 15 years ago, we graduated about 1500 lawyers and electrical engineers a year. Now we graduate three times as many lawyers as electrical engineers.

    It is no accident that Japan is making major strides in technology-based industries – she is training her people for them. She sells to us tens of billions of dollars worth of high technology and sophisticated products. The trade gap in her favor is known to everyone. What is not so well known is that increasingly we are relying on the sale of resources – such as coal, scrap metal, forest products, and foodstuffs. In a sense, we are forming a type of colonial relationship with Japan. We ship her raw material, she ships us finished goods.

    In the Soviet Union, 5 million Soviet students study calculus in high school, compared to 500,000 American students studying calculus in high school or their first year college. The Soviets teach algebra, geometry, and trigonometry in grades 6-10, and require a total of over 10 years of physics, chemistry, and biology for all high school graduates.

    These examples make it clear that we must act. Given energy and resource constraints, the only viable path to continued prosperity is through the increased commitment to greater knowledge and invention.

    California has additional reasons to act. Nearly 40% of our new jobs in this decade will depend directly or indirectly on high technology related industries. Moreover, throughout the nation, tens of millions of jobs will be rendered obsolete and those holding them will have to be retrained for work that will often require technological literacy.

    If we ever needed a counteracting cause, a challenge, this is it. For our prosperity – even our survival – depends on our will to invest in people.

    Last year you funded the California Commission on Industrial Innovation. It's composed of prominent business, labor, and academic leaders. Although we are in the early stages, it is clear to me – as one member – that the first priority must be to increase our commitment to math, science, and computer science instruction in our university systems and provide more technology-based training and re-training.

    Despite the current recession, I believe we must dedicate ourselves to achieve the following three goals.

    1. Ensure that every California high school students learns at least three years of mathematics and two years of science. For those going to college, the universities should set higher goals until we measure up to our potential and to the competition.

      As a first step, my budget will include special funding for training teacher in math and science and computer instruction. The budget also includes additional fund for necessary new textbooks, materials, and equipment;

    2. Increase the support in our university systems for engineering, computer science and related science instructions. I will ask that you set aside State funds to be matched by private industry to accomplish this goal;
    3. Provide additional support for vocational education through community colleges and adult education programs to prepare men and women for ht new information-based jobs of the ‘80s. The goal will be to provide effective, job-based training leading directly to employment, following the successful model of the California Worksite Education and Training Act (CWETA). CWETA has worked well. It is now time to extend it to new students, displaced workers and those who have been thrown on to welfare rolls. Particular emphasis will be placed on supporting local councils of business and labor so that we can achieve maximum success.

    All these are but steps on a long and continuous journey. Much money is required. But so also are the correct principles and a shared vision that will enable us to act together.

    Throughout the coming year, we will, of course, grapple with the specific list of difficulties; toxics, taxes, crime, shelter, pensions, and their enormous investment funds, medical costs, transportation, energy, infant mortality, the care of the aged, the language barriers of our immigrants, and the manner in which we treat our natural systems – fisheries, forests, soil, water, and the various other forms of life that serve and sustain us.

    I call these difficulties, not problems, because a problem is solved or forgotten, whereas difficulties remain to teach us how to care to elicit the best from us, to show us how to depend on one another, and to serve in the words of Governor Burnett at the counteracting cause to overcome our natural inclination to grow indolent, careless and stupid.

    I have referred back to our first Governor and to my own family because those who preceded us have passed the test and shown the way. Whatever their failings, they met each adversity with enough courage to ensure that California today will remains a place of hope and prosperity.

    That continues to be our task and the work we do must be seen in the wider light. We are joined together to carry on tradition. We have been entrusted with much – I don't know of any who have been given more – and much will be asked of us.

    The world still looks to California. If we think clearly and act correctly, we can make the tools to lift millions out of poverty and ignorance and we can pioneer the new technologies that emphasize quality over quantity.

    Our obstacles are not the lack of money, or gold, or raw materials.

    We have these or can get them. What we need to find anew is the spirit that built this State and sustains us even now.