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Brown Has Opportunity to Start Over

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Brown Has Opportunity to Start Over

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California Gov. Jerry Brown delivers a keynote address during the 2011 Pacific Coast Builders Conference on June 23, 2011 in San Francisco, California. California Gov. Jerry Brown delivered his address as State legislators scramble to revise a budget that Gov. Brown vetoed.

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More than six months after he was sworn in, Gov. Jerry Brown's administration finally feels like it's launching.

Brown focused so intently on the budget during the first half of this year that not much else got done.

Outside groups said it was hard to get an answer from the governor's office to correspondence or invitations.

Jobseekers complained that Brown was slow to hire.

Lawmakers and interest groups had a hard time getting a read on where the governor was on major legislation -- because there were few aides in place to deal with such matters.

Brown himself stuck mostly to Sacramento and budget negotiations.

That seems to be changing.

Brown's office has stepped up the pace of appointments -- and starting to engage more on legislation. The governor is in LA this week for a conference on energy and to make speeches on issues such as race relations and immigration.

The governor's exact intentions and strategy aren't known. But he is clearly pivoting to the non-budget aspects of governance.

Where should Brown be going? 

The governor needs to do what he hasn't done -- either in office or as a candidate: lay out a vision, a story, of where he wants to take the state.

California badly needs a new story to tell itself about where it's going. Brown hasn't offered one.

Heck, he may think that such an exercise is grandiose. Or pointless, since there isn't money to fund big new programs.

But it's necessary--if Brown is to help move the state away from its current path of long, slow dismantling of its most crucial pubic services and its economic competitiveness.

That requires redesigning the state's budget and governing systems. But it also requires a story of what the state could be -- if it had a system that allowed the public and elected officials to make decisions in a timely, rational manner, and plan for the future.

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