Jerry Brown returns to lead a troubled California

By Juliet Williams

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Jan. 3 2011 12:00 a.m. MST

Jerry Brown is hugged by his wife, Anne Gust Brown as he shakes hands with California Supreme Court Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye after he was sworn-in as the 39th Governor of California during ceremonies in Sacramento, Calif. Monday, Jan. 3, 2011.

Anne Chadwick Williams, Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Democrat Jerry Brown was sworn in Monday as California's 39th governor, returning to the office he left 28 years ago but inheriting a much different and more troubled state than the one he led then.

The man who once was California's most famous bachelor took the oath of office after being introduced by his wife of five years, former Gap Inc. executive Anne Gust Brown, inside Sacramento Memorial Auditorium.

As California Supreme Court Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye administered the oath, Gust Brown held a Bible that had belonged to her grandfather and was used during her wedding with Brown.

Brown has predicted a grim future for the financially beleaguered state. Where his predecessor, Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, expressed optimism at every turn, Brown has been realistic since winning the Nov. 2 election. California has faced several years of deep budget deficits and is confronting another estimated at $28 billion through June 2012.

Its general fund is $15 billion less than it was just three years ago, reflecting a sharp drop in tax revenue from a recession that has battered the economy of the nation's most populous state. Brown, 72, said the choices facing California's 38.8 million people are painful.

"The year ahead will demand courage and sacrifice," he said.

California was among 26 states swearing in governors with the new year. Among them were New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who took his oath over the weekend in a similarly scaled-down event, and South Carolina's Nikki Haley, a Republican who will be the country's first female Indian-American governor when she is sworn in next week.

Among the other governors inaugurated Monday were Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, also a Republican, and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, that state's first Democratic governor in two decades.

In California, Brown noted how the recession has taken a toll on California and referred to polls showing most voters believing the state is on the wrong track. He urged lawmakers from both political parties to get out of their comfort zones and rise above ideology for the good of the state, asking them to embrace a "philosophy of loyalty" to California.

"We can overcome the sharp divisions that leave our politics in perpetual gridlock, but only if we reach into our hearts and find that loyalty, that devotion to California above and beyond our narrow perspectives," he said.

Brown's inauguration was a scaled-down affair, reflecting the austerity of the former Jesuit seminarian and Buddhism student. Brown's speech lasted about 15 minutes, and the only other speaker listed on the one-page program was his wife.

Brown's style contrasts with that of past governors, some of whom held inaugural balls after their swearing-in ceremony. Schwarzenegger even threw himself what he called a "wrap party" last month, complete with some of his Hollywood buddies.

Even during Brown's first term as governor, he preached an era of limits, saying government cannot deliver everything people expect from it. He lived that philosophy himself, ditching the governor's mansion for a sparsely furnished apartment and driving a Plymouth instead of riding in a limousine.

After voters rejected an $18-a-year license fee last year to stabilize state park funding, Brown declared that Californians were "in no mood to add to their burdens."

Yet his press aides have not quashed speculation that Brown will try to call a special election this spring to extend a set of temporary tax hikes approved in 2009. Brown said he would not raise taxes without voter approval, but will need some Republican help to reach the two-thirds legislative vote necessary to place any tax or fee measure on the ballot.

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