Gov. Jerry Brown says schools are in ‘good shape’ to dodge cuts

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Gov. Jerry Brown said Tuesday that his new budget would give “more to schools than they got last year,” and proclaimed, “things look very good for schools in the next couple of years.”

Brown made his comments in a wide-ranging hourlong news conference in the Ronald Reagan Council Room in the governor’s Capitol office, weighing in on a variety of topics including the Occupy movement, the Republican presidential field and the prospects of his initiative to raise taxes next year.


When asked to grade himself on his first year in office, Brown quipped, “Students don’t give themselves grades,” then added, “I think I took this semester pass/fail anyways.”

He called the Occupy movement a ‘political pressure point’ and said ‘politicians are listening’ to the message of the protesters, although he said they were having limited influence on state and national politics. In Oakland, he said, the protesters’ camping on the lawn of City Hall just ‘means you have to reseed the lawn.’

Brown also discussed the death penalty, saying that the way the state administers capital punishment “has lots of problems.” But he stopped short of saying it should be scrapped entirely.

Regarding state finances, he said he was prepared to ask lawmakers to cut spending by billions more in the budget he will unveil next month. The spending plan will assume the passage of Brown’s tax initiative in November, which would give the state billions in additional revenues.

If the measure fails, he said, more drastic cuts to state programs would be needed.

Brown said he was open to having “discussions” with Republicans on budget matters, but said he was unlikely to engage in the level of budget negotiations that ultimately proved fruitless this year.

Under a law passed by voters last November, state budgets can now be passed with simple majority votes, making Republican support unnecessary. GOP support would be needed to increase taxes, which still require approval from two-thirds of each legislative house, but Brown conceded that was unlikely.

-- Anthony York in Sacramento