Last month, Gov. Jerry Brown delivered his 15th and final State of the State Address. It’s too bad California legislators can’t ask questions like our counterparts in the United Kingdom, who query their head of government during “Prime Minister’s Questions.” If we could, here are five questions I would have asked Gov. Brown:
1.) In California, the cost of building a mile of road is triple what it is in other states. You recently signed a $52-billion gas tax increase. Why not learn from other states that build better and cheaper roads before making Californians pay higher taxes?
2.) Under your watch, California’s unfunded pension liability has grown by over $100 billion. You clearly recognize this as a problem, having just filed a commendable opening brief in what could be a landmark state Supreme Court case. So why did you allow this problem, which threatens vital services and future generations, to get so much worse?
3.) For children living in poverty, California is the worst place in America to get an education, ranking near the bottom for every academic performance measure. Your education plan has added almost $30 billion in yearly spending, yet our schools have if anything gotten worse at educating poor children. How do you explain this?
4.) Since you became governor, the state budget has grown from $129 billion to $191 billion. What evidence can you point to that this new spending has improved the quality of life for ordinary Californians? Feel free to cite, for example, health outcomes, student achievement, housing affordability, infrastructure quality, workforce participation, poverty rates, family stability or any other metric.
5.) The projected cost of High Speed Rail now exceeds $67 billion, with new delays and cost overruns reported almost monthly. And many are doubting the bullet train will have any useful purpose. In the words of Elon Musk, “The train in question would be both slower, more expensive to operate and less safe by two orders of magnitude than flying, so why would anyone use it?” Why would anyone?
Assemblyman Kevin Kiley represents the 6th Assembly District, which includes parts of El Dorado, Placer, and Sacramento counties.