Governor Brown told lawmakers in his annual State of the State address Wednesday that "California is on the mend."
But until full recovery is attained, he said: "Again, I propose cuts and temporary taxes. Neither is popular, but both must be done."
Is the second part of that prescription, temporary taxes, something that California voters will swallow in November?
It's a question he hopes to begin answering by way of a statewide, retail politics-style tour that began after his speech, which will bring him to San Diego Thursday.
The governor says the state's budget shortfall next fiscal year is running at a fourth of what this year's was.
He wants to fill most of it with a November ballot initiative authorizing $7 billion in tax increases on high earners and a sales tax boost. The rest, with program cuts.
"The cuts are not ones I like, but the situation demands them," the governor said before a joint session of the Legislature. "As for the initiative, it's fair, it's temporary, and it's half of what people were paying in 2010."
Last Friday, he called City Club of San Diego President George Mitrovich, asking for an audience to address.
Mitrovich obliged by quickly arranging a civic luncheon for 220 at Balboa Park's Hall of Champions at noon Thursday, also inviting guests from the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and Independent Voter Network.
"If it may be said I gave the governor any counsel," Mitrovich laughed in an interview Wednesday, before getting serious: "I said: 'Challenge us. We need to be challenged'."
Brown may govern a 'blue state' whose Legislature is under solid control of the Democrats, but California's become tax-averse in this economic climate.
Can he get hikes passed on the November ballot?
"He will prevail if he's consistent in the challenge," Mitrovich said, "and if he's consistent in outlining to the people of this state what the consequences are if this doesn't happen."
While the governor continues to promote high speed rail and 'green' technology, skeptics say support for tax measures won't come without budget and pension reforms, reliable water supplies, and properly bankrolled and well-administered education programs.
"A lot of the resistance is that people think Sacramento's a mess, that nobody's serious about cleaning it up," said Ruben Barrales, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. "If he can demonstrate that he's serious, if he can demonstrate actual, positive results on some of these points, then I think he'll have a more receptive ear."
The governor was in Los Angeles Wednesday afternoon for talks at city hall, and in Burbank.
Thursday, it's on to Irvine, then San Diego, for his first public appearance here since a campaign rally in October, 2010.
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