A downcast Gov. Jerry Brown Jr. walked past hostile state workers at a rally outside the Capitol in Sacramento, California, Thursday, June 29, 1978 where he spoke to the gathering. The state workers held the rally to protest a freeze in wages by Gov. Brown brought on by the implementation of Prop. 13.
The latest is a radio ad from a labor-backed committee in which it boasts that Brown created a budget surplus for the state. That's true -- and totally and intentionally misleading.
So misleading, in fact, it should be pulled from the air.
The surplus in question is the one that Jerry Brown ran up in his first term -- before Prop 13 and the national recession ruined it. By nearly all accounts, maintaining such a big surplus, while Californians seethed at high property taxes, was not an accomplishment but a terrible mistake that had catastrophic consequences. Namely, the obscene surplus fueled support for Prop 13, which not only erased the surplus but sparked an era that has seen centralization of power in Sacramento and the passage of voter-approved measures that have helped make California virtually ungovernable.
Bottom line: It's nothing to brag about. In fact, the surplus may have been the single most significant mistake of Brown's governorship. And the political operatives behind this ad are wise enough to know that.