SACRAMENTO, CA - JANUARY 10: California Governor Jerry Brown speaks to reporters as he announces his proposed budget at the California State Capitol on January 10, 2011 in Sacramento, California. Governor Brown announced a balanced state budget that cuts spending by $12.5 billion and includes an eight to ten percent cut in take home pay for state employees and proposes a "vast and historic" restructuring of government operations. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Gov. Brown's budget may not offer a big-picture strategy to fixing the state's broken fiscal system. But on small matters -- and they say God is in the details -- he's getting things right.
Brown has cut his office staff, fulfilling a pledge that previous governors made (but rarely honored). He's eliminated offices that should have long ago been eliminated, including the secretary of education (since the state already has a school board and a superintendent of public instruction) and the office of the first lady (a ceremonial post at heart). And today, he's getting notice for cancelling 48,000 cell phones that are in state workers' hands. (Joke told by one state worker in downtown Los Angeles this afternoon: "We didn't have cell phones the last time he was governor. I guess we don't need 'em this time").
The amount of money being saved by these measures is negligible -- less than $50 million -- when the state faces a projected budget deficit in the next fiscal year of nearly $20 billion. But the optics are important -- precisely because Brown has committed himself to getting voters' permission for an extension of tax increases to fund his budget and his transfer of some state services to local government.