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CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS / GOVERNOR : Brown Cites Rise in Jobless Rate as Sign That State Is Still in Recession

TIMES POLITICAL WRITER

Democrat Kathleen Brown said Friday that a new spurt in California unemployment demonstrates that the state is not emerging from the recession, as Republican Gov. Pete Wilson argues, but is suffering a “betrayal of the California promise and the California dream.”

The state is languishing in the trough of a massive transition to a new form of economy without the smart leadership it needs to cope with a changing future, said Brown, the state treasurer and Democratic gubernatorial nominee.

“Things are happening in California that are different than in other places,” Brown told about 50 members of Leadership California, an organization of female executives, entrepreneurs, educators and others.

While California’s unemployment rate increased from 8.3% to 9% during July, the national rate edged up only slightly to 6.1%.

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Wilson described the increase Friday as a “temporary statistical variation.” The recovery continues, though it might not be spectacular, Wilson said, and “Californians are more confident about the future.”

The governor added: “As California builds its way back to full economic recovery, I will continue to push for significant reforms in the business environment and maintain our commitment to lower taxes and cutting red tape. We need to continue to stimulate business growth as we come out of tough economic times.”

After two weeks in which Brown and Wilson battled over crime issues, Brown returned to the central theme of her campaign during appearances in Southern California, which has been hit worse by the recession than the rest of the state. She gave a similar economics address at lunch Thursday to about 500 members of the Hollywood Radio and Television Society.

She planned to carry the jobs and economy theme to stops in Bakersfield, Fresno and San Bernardino before flying to Washington for two days of fund raising and meetings.

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Wilson is planning to address an anti-crime rally on the state Capitol grounds Monday.

The governor might say the state is in a recovery, Brown said, “but I have to tell you I don’t see it as a recovery. I see it as the betrayal of the California dream and the California promise.”

Brown, who has proposed an economic stimulus package that is similar to Wilson’s program in many respects, said Friday that Wilson’s actions and promises are not enough.

The 1994 election presents a crossroads, she said, in which Californians must choose between investing in new programs “that are going to make us smarter,” or going “back to the old way that California used to be.”

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“We have a governor today who happens to think happy endings will take place if one just lets things go as they will. . . . Try telling that to the families that have been torn apart by this new economy. We need a governor who can explain what is happening, who lays out a strategy and then fights to bring it home.”

In Long Beach on Friday, Brown said California is undergoing “the most dramatic economic revolution and transformation in history,” driven by forces such as global competition, the end of the Cold War and declines in the defense and aerospace industries.

California’s future rests with trade, tourism and new uses of technology, Brown said. The entertainment industry is a metaphor for the transition, she said, citing the development of technology in Northern California’s Silicon Valley for the motion picture “Jurassic Park.”

But Brown said it is disturbing to see such developments as a major film company deciding to build an animation studio in Arizona rather than in California.

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“There begins the peeling away of what once was a California-only industry,” she said.

Brown accused the Wilson Administration of failing to understand the devastation experienced by families that have lost jobs in the economic transition.

“They’re frightened. They don’t understand it. They see their lives suddenly in chaos and spiraling out of control,” Brown said. “And they don’t know what their place will be in this new economy.”

Unless the state can help them adjust to new jobs, it will wind up paying in terms of unemployment insurance, welfare and public health care, Brown said.

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