He's keeping expectations low -- which is healthy (because there's not much a governor can do in California's system) and smart (because even small improvements in the state's circumstances will look bigger). He's avoided Schwarzenegger-style overpromising (remember when Arnold convinced voters to adopt a "never again" spending restraint, Prop 58, so that the state would stop borrowing? Let's just say the impact of the measure was something less than the promise).
Brown also is being smart about personnel. Today's LA Times reports that Brown may be keeping on much of the Schwarzenegger administration's appointees. That's not an endorsement of the outgoing governor's policies, but it reflects the reality of the state's situation. Brown shouldn't be worried about making hundreds of appointments when the state is in crisis. To put it another way, when you're on a sinking Titanic, you can't waste time finding a new crew. You have to focus on saving the ship.