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Brown vows to sow ‘unity and clarity out of muddle and division’

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Jerry Brown said he was prepared to hit the ground running after voters gave him a third term as California governor in Tuesday’s election.

Speaking to reporters at his campaign headquarters in Oakland Wednesday, Brown said he had already reached out to legislative leaders of both parties and had tapped his chief deputy in the attorney general’s office, Jim Humes, to help him manage his transition.

‘This is a period of time to learn, to study, to forge relationships that will put me in a good position going forward,’ Brown said. ‘Right now I want to uncover, as Ross Perot said, I want to lift up the hood and show the good , the bad and the ugly. I didn’t create this mess. I haven’t been there for 28 years. But I’m going to do everything I can to make it better.’

Brown said the Legislature and California taxpayers needed to explore a central question as the Democrat approaches his first budget: ‘What does California need, what does California want and what is California prepared to pay?’

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He added: ‘I’m going to try to close the gap between reality and perception here.’

Brown said he planned to fly to Sacramento Thursday to meet with legislative leaders, after attending the funeral of a police officer in San Diego. He said successful ballot measures in Tuesday’s election –- one for a majority-vote budget, the other requiring two-thirds to increase fees –- made his job as governor more complicated, with voters sending a mixed message.

‘The taxpayers gave and they also took away,’ he said. ‘On one hand, the people said by a majority give us a budget. On the other hand, they said don’t pick my pocket. So this will take all the know-how that I said I had and all the luck of the Irish as I go forward.’

Asked about whether he would be forced to raise taxes or hold a special election to renew expiring hikes approved by voters last year, Brown reiterated his pledge not to raise taxes without voter approval. He also cited voters’ rejection of Proposition 21, which would have provided funding for state parks by instituting an extra $18 charge on the annual vehicle registration fee.

‘The electorate is in no mood to add to their burdens,’ he said.

Brown vowed to start crafting a budget two weeks from Tuesday’s election, after he takes a week vacation. He said that he would continue to maintain his residence in Oakland while finding ‘some place to sleep’ in Sacramento.

‘I’m not selling this house until it retains its original value,’ he said of his house in the Oakland hills. ‘And that may take a lot of work on my part.’

As he had done through the campaign, Brown described his role as a negotiator eager to bring both political parties together to forge compromise.

‘The electorate was divided very much by party last night, and when we go to Sacramento it will be divided by party again. And the solutions going forward are very divided,’ he said. ‘There are those who want taxes, there are those who only want cuts and then there’s groups in the middle who muddle around. And it’s my job to try to sow some unity and clarity out of muddle and division.’

-- Michael J. Mishak in Oakland

Photo credit: The governor-elect talks with media at his Oakland headquarters on Wednesday. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times


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