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State government

Gov. Jerry Brown defiantly tells lawmakers 'California is not turning back' in face of Trump and GOP proposals

Gov. Jerry Brown used his State of the State speech on Tuesday to promise a forceful defense of California’s efforts on climate change, healthcare and assistance to those in the country illegally against new proposals by President Donald Trump and national Republican leadership.

“California is not turning back,” Brown said to applause. “Not now, not ever.”

The governor’s remarks, delivered in front of lawmakers and state elected officials in the Assembly chambers, came just four days after President Trump’s forceful inaugural address that signaled a dramatic new course for the federal government.

While he never mentioned the president by name during the 16-minute speech, Brown said there are “disturbing” signs as to what’s on the horizon.

“We have seen the bald assertion of ‘alternative facts,’ whatever those are,” he said, a reference to top Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway’s weekend comments on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We have heard the blatant attacks on science. Familiar signposts of our democracy — truth, civility, working together — have been obscured or swept aside.”

The annual event in the chamber of the state Assembly was unusual from the outset. Just minutes before beginning his speech, Brown gave the oath of office to Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra, the former Los Angeles congressman confirmed to the post on Monday afternoon by the state Senate.

Legislators have had a decidedly unusual start to their new two-year session. After a raucous opening day in December that laid bare wounds from the presidential race, lawmakers were presented two weeks ago with Brown’s projection of a $1.6-billion budget deficit looming on the state’s fiscal horizon.

But the sea change in national politics has been a persistent buzz in the state Capitol, and Brown promised a strong defense of California’s unique view on major policy issues.

The governor made a special mention of the issue of illegal immigration, offering perhaps his strongest words to date.

“Let me be clear,” the governor said, his voice rising. “We will defend everybody — every man, woman and child who has come here for a better life and has contributed to the well-being of our state.”

Even with those critiques, the governor veered from his prepared remarks to praise Trump's call for a new focus on infrastructure projects.

“I say, ‘Amen to that, man!’ ” he said.

And Brown urged members of the Legislature to reject the bitter partisan divisions of this moment in the nation’s history.

“Democrats are in the majority, but Republicans represent real Californians, too,” he said to bipartisan applause. “We have generally been civil to one another and avoided the rancor of Washington. I urge you to go even further and look for new ways to work beyond party and act as Californians first.”

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