Neel Kashkari

Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari, shown at a meet-and-greet in Stanton, Calif., in November 2013, says Gov. Jerry Brown ignored poverty in his State of the State address. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times / November 15, 2013)

Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari criticized Gov. Jerry Brown’s State of the State address Wednesday morning as a victory lap that failed to offer any comfort for Californians who are living in poverty, unemployed or underemployed.

“Gov. Brown may claim a California comeback, but the truth is that he has forgotten the millions of California families who are struggling,” Kashkari said in a prepared statement, noting that 24% of the state’s residents live in poverty if cost-of-living is factored in.

“Yet how many times did the governor mention poverty in his 17-minute address? Not once. That is outrageous,” Kashkari’s statement said.

The comments were his first direct criticism of Brown since announcing Tuesday that he was running.

Brown’s speech on Wednesday laid out his accomplishments over the last year, notably fixing the state’s finances, turning deficit into surplus and his proposal to require a rainy day fund -- all moves for which the incumbent Democrat has received widespread credit.

Kashkari’s campaign appears to be focusing on Californians who have not benefited under Brown’s tenure and children who attend failing schools.

“The state of the state is devastating for millions of Californians,” the candidate’s statement said. “Our schools are ranked 46th in the nation. Nearly 18% of Californians are out of work or stuck in part-time jobs. People don’t want welfare. They want good jobs.”

Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury official, fund manager, engineer and investment banker, faulted Brown for increasing spending in his proposed budget and for supporting construction of a $68-billion high-speed rail system.

“Let there be no doubt: The status quo is unacceptable,” he said, repeating a key phrase from his Tuesday announcement speech, “and we can’t let Gov. Brown get away with it”.

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Twitter: @LATSeema

seema.mehta@latimes.com