In his State of the State address last night, Gov. Jerry Brown invoked pro-democracy demonstrations abroad, asserting assertion that failing to put temporary tax extensions the ballot would be “unconscionable” and “irresponsible.”

“When democratic ideals and calls for the right to vote are stirring the imagination of young people in Egypt and Tunisia and other parts of the world, we in California can’t say now is the time to block a vote of the people,” he told lawmakers gathered in the Assembly chambers.

Freshman Assemblymember Rich Gordon, (D-Menlo Park) called the
called the governor’s plan “appropriate and democratic in its approach.” But Sen. Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo), who represents the southern parts of Santa Clara County, said Brown was over-reaching to make his point. 

“Trying to create a moral equivalency between supporting his plan and freeing oppressed masses in the Middle East I thought was a bit of a stretch,” Blakeslee said. “There may be, in fact, a third way that talks about some of the issues that are more uncomfortable for him, including pension reform, tax reform and regulatory reforms that have some teeth.”

John Shirey, executive director, California Redevelopment Association, also criticized Brown for the analogy.

“The governor emphasized the citizens’ right to vote and the need for a legislative ‘check-in’ with the voters,” John Shirey said. “Yet, just three months ago, the voters overwhelmingly voted to stop state raids of local funds, including redevelopment funds. … The proposal to kill redevelopment is also unworkable and illegal.
“You simply cannot effectively wave away the legally responsible party for tens of billions of dollars in contracts and bonded indebtedness without destroying the creditworthiness of the state and local governments or triggering a torrent of lawsuits.”

Brown acknowledged in his speech that he had heard from the state’s mayors and other redevelopment agency supporters. But, he said, the debate “is a matter of hard choices, and I come down on the side of those who believe that core functions of government must be funded first.”

Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, praised the fgovernor’s hard-nosed approach: “Governor Brown’s remarks today were a long overdue dose of reality. The governor and the public rightfully expect the legislature to step up and make the hard choices necessary to put the state on a sound financial footing. When the Governor called on us for a combination of ‘vision and discipline’, he struck the right note.”