Student Report 2012 California StateoftheState

Student Report 2012 California StateoftheState


The State of the State Address is the annual promise to the people of California that the state will remain in existence for at least another session of Congress. Every time I make a trip to the capitol, I never cease to be awe struck by its opulence and pure regality. It is never easy to conjure the idea that something so magnificent is no more than a ten minute drive from my home. I usually take the walk through the main entrance as a tourist or an anxious student on a field trip. But on this occasion, I walked professionally through the west security entrance to the office of the Sergeant at Arms. Walking through the grand hallways I felt, for a lack of more academic or accurate English, so cool. Finally entering the main gallery I reached a state of utter elation, waiting anxiously for the event to commence.

The actions present on the gallery floor spoke volumes, representing the diversity of moods expressed by those in attendance. There were the few that stood in solitude waiting for the event to commence; there were those that spoke with allies recalling entertaining anecdotes, and there were the select few that moved across the floor making the rounds, sharing an encounter with everyone. It was only when the Governor’s impending entrance was announced that a gradual hush fell over the room. When Governor Brown entered, he was greeted with a thunderous applause, handshakes and naturally, the formalities of an introduction. When he finally was given his chance to speak, he began with a few humorous and light-hearted jabs at his political opponents who sat quietly in their congressional seats. After a few moments the substantive aspects of his address began.

Naturally, as any experienced and well-versed politician would do, he began with the accomplishments and advancements made during his administration. While most conservatives would have to agree that Brown, in his current term, has accomplished more than Schwarzenegger ever did for the state, this summation of achievement should not be taken for any more than it was: a politically motivated advertisement of his achievements while in office. The DREAM Act, as expected, proved to be his key opening point. The DREAM Act would provide an opportunity for undocumented students to have the ability to apply to have their non-resident tuition waived and the ability to apply for specialized scholarships. Honestly, what better way was there to highlight the Californian government’s ability to completely disregard among the most fervent of Republican beliefs? But, to speak to its actual significance, the DREAM Act marks the presence of the government’s new found ability to actually pass legislation, rather than create gridlock. The tactic however was evident. The initiative had already been signed into law, while controversy remained prevalent. What the mention of the act served to do was prove to the people and politicians of California, that, regardless of opposition, the Governor will accomplish what he sets out to do. Governor Brown continued to highlight his achievements through a clever use of figures which highlighted California’s “prosperity”. Continuing to be the largest source of economic activity in the United States, and existing as its technological leader are undeniable achievements which California continues to prove. However, saying that California is the world leader in Green Investments is simply a clever way of saying California spends more than any single nation in this field.

This State already lives greatly outside of its means, and the simple fact is: We must make cuts and have the sufficient funds before we actually begin any new, massive projects. The California High Speed Rail Initiative is the newest project to assume the role of “California’s Monetary Garbage Disposal”. The project itself is proposed to cost 98.5 billion dollars. As every proud citizen of the state should realize, we do not have an extra $98.5 billion to waste on such an endeavor. The current balance set aside for the project is only a fraction of what the end price will truly be. High speed rail with our current available balance will result in one of a few options. Either we will get two separate rails leading to nowhere or a long stretch of half completed tracks with no trains. The best summation for the project is a multi-billion dollar investment in 19th century means of transportation. Currently there are two primary means of making the trip from Northern to Southern California: air or highway. Travelling by air, a Californian could make the trip from Sacramento to Los Angeles in an hour and a half at $200; by road the trip would cost $15 per passenger in a 5 seat vehicle with the trip lasting 6 hours. What the project would do would be placing an option exactly in the middle. An option most would not take in lieu of the previous. The necessity of the project is non-existent. It would be a fantastic investment to be made by a state that possessed a massive surplus, however, the term investment implies hope for some kind of return, which will never happen.

Additionally, Brown spoke of his new and highly combated tax plan. The plan promises to provide funds to California’s schools, at the expense of the tax payers. The tax would call for 1% increase in the income tax of those making $250,000 or more, as well as a gradual half-cent increase in the state sales tax. This proposed plan would bring in a potential revenue of $6.8 billion a year for the next five years. While I am not ardently opposed, the tax could be lessened with cuts made to the educational bureaucracy. But, as it stands, most Californians understand the fact that education is among the most important priorities lawmakers should have. Education is key, and most are willing to make sacrifices. Further, he went on with education, to promise the simplification of the testing systems to allow for quicker results and a more productive means for teachers to acquire data for their classrooms. This promise, while it has no practical means of solution, is progress. Brown also promised reform to the penal system. The discussion of the issue ended at that point but, the simple recognition of the fact that the California prison system needs reform is the start of potential progress.

The State of California may have its issues, but it is a hub for new ideas and progress to be made. While the prospective programs in store for California may or may not be achieved, this debate is not the key idea to be taken from the Governor’s speech. We as a people have a responsibility to eliminate the careless and complacent attitudes held by our fellow Californians. In order to promote a successful and prosperous democracy, we, the people, must realize the importance of remaining educated and informed in order to hold our politicians and lawmakers accountable for their policies and actions. Only through self-education and a more caring attitude, can we restore a government that is truly run by the people, for the people.