Predictable Split Along Party Lines : Governor's Speech Draws Praise and Criticism

Times Staff Writers

Democrats criticized Gov. George Deukmejian's State of the State address Wednesday evening as short on substance and failing to outline solutions to major problems facing California.

Just as predictably, Republican lawmakers praised the speech as illustrating their belief that the two-term GOP governor's programs of fiscal restraint are working in a booming economy without the need for a tax increase.

Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) said the speech contained "only one new idea," that the governor and state schools Supt. Bill Honig will jointly sponsor school reform legislation recommended by a commission of Deukmejian appointees.

"I don't think that is good enough for the problems that exist in the state of California," Brown said. "The rest of the speech was mostly based on bond (issues) and beautiful rhetoric."

Sat on Hands

For the most part, Democrats sat on their hands and left their Republican colleagues to applaud the speech. Democrats joined in only once, and that occurred when the governor announced that he and Honig, who has been a critic of Deukmejian's education budget, will work together this year on reforms.

Deukmejian antagonized some Democrats when he led off his speech with an appeal to quickly confirm Republican Rep. Daniel E. Lungren of Long Beach as the new state treasurer, succeeding the late Jesse M. Unruh.

"That was the one part of the speech I didn't like," said Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles). "The education part I applaud him on. Welcome aboard."

Senate Republican leader Ken Maddy of Fresno told reporters that the speech contained "nothing new" but said this seems to be Deukmejian's style when he makes a State of the State speech. He said he thinks it reflected the governor's belief that "he is on the right track."

"He was reelected overwhelmingly, and the economy is good," Maddy said.

Assembly Republican leader Pat Nolan of Glendale said the speech showed that the governor's policies "are obviously working."

Fund Needs

"He is able to fully fund the needs of the state and not have to have a tax increase. . . . I think we are in the pink of health," Nolan said.

U.S. Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) in Sacramento to make a speech, attended the governor's address in the Assembly chamber and later said he believed Deukmejian "covered quite a few bases--but not all." He criticized the governor for failing to mention the need for more low- and moderate-income housing.

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