Wed, Jan 05, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Brown serving up hot dogs, austerity as California leader

Reuters, SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA

Jerry Brown was sworn in as California’s governor on Monday, returning to a job he held nearly three decades ago, and pledged a “tough budget” to turn around one of the most financially strapped US states.

In keeping with his message of austerity and painful choices, the veteran Democrat, who was the state’s governor for two terms from 1975 to 1983, served hot dogs at his inaugural lunch after taking over from Republican former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Inheriting a budget gap estimated at nearly US$28 billion through the middle of next year, Brown has called for more spending cuts to balance the books in California, the US state with the largest population and worst credit rating.

He is also widely expected to push for a special election that would ask voters to extend temporary tax increases to help balance the state’s books.

Brown must present the -Democratic-controlled state legislature with a budget plan for the fiscal year beginning in July within a week. He said the plan he would present would be painful.

“At this stage in my life, I have not come here to embrace delay and denial,” Brown told an audience in Sacramento, the state capital, after taking the oath of office.

Brown also pledged to make environmental issues a top priority and said he intended to meet his goal of bringing 20,000 megawatts of energy from renewable sources online by 2020.

State Democrats recently rejected Schwarzenegger’s plan to close a roughly US$6 billion shortfall in the current fiscal budget. They said they would wait to work on the budget with Brown.

With California’s low credit rating under pressure because of the budget shortfall, analysts expect Brown to follow through with spending cuts that affect all parts of the state government.

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