California's new goal: 20,000 MW of Renewable Energy
Gov. Jerry Brown
This is a special moment as executive power passes from one governor to
another, determined solely by majority vote. It is a sacred and special
ritual that affirms that the people are in charge, and that elected
officials are given only a limited time in which to perform their
For me, this day is also special because I get to follow in my
father’s footsteps once again—and 36 years after my first
inauguration as governor, even follow in my own.
Then—1975—it was the end of the Vietnam War and a recession
caused by the Middle East oil embargo. Now, as we gather in this
restored Memorial Auditorium, dedicated to those who died in World War
I, it is our soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our economy
caught in the undertow of a deep and prolonged recession.
With so many people out of work and so many families losing their homes
in foreclosure, it is not surprising that voters tell us they are
worried and believe that California is on the wrong track.
Yet, in the face of huge budget deficits year after year and the worst
credit rating among the 50 states, our two political parties
can’t come close to agreeing on the right path forward. They
remain in their respective comfort zones, rehearsing and rehashing old
Perhaps this is the reason why the public holds the state government in
such low esteem. And that’s a profound problem, not just for
those of us who are elected, but for our whole system of
self-government. Without the trust of the people, politics degenerates
into mere spectacle; and democracy declines, leaving demagoguery and
cynicism to fill the void.
The year ahead will demand courage and sacrifice. The budget I propose
will assume that each of us who are elected to do the people’s
business will rise above ideology and partisan interest and find what
is required for the good of California.
When dealing with a budget gap in the tens of billions, I must point
out that it is far more than waste and inefficiency that we have to
take out. Yes, government wastes money—and I will be doing a lot
about that—but government also pays for things that most people
want and that are approved only after elected representatives debate
their merits and finally vote them into law. They cover the spectrum
from universities, parks, health care, prisons, income assistance, tax
incentives, environmental protection, firefighting, and much else.
Choices have to be made and difficult decisions made.
In reflecting on our difficulties, my thoughts turned to those who
preceded me and what they faced and what they were able to accomplish.
It is not just my family, but every Californian is heir to some form of
powerful tradition, some history of overcoming challenges much more
daunting than those we face today. From the native peoples who survived
the total transformation of their way of life, to the most recent
arrival, stories of courage abound. And it is not over.
The people of California have not lost their pioneering spirit or their
capacity to meet life’s challenges.
Even in the midst of this recession, Californians this year will
produce almost two trillion dollars of new wealth as measured by our
state’s domestic product. The innovations of Silicon Valley, the
original thinking coming out of our colleges and universities, the
skill of our farmers, the creative imagination of Hollywood, the
Internet, and the grit and determination of small businesses
everywhere—all give hope for an even more abundant future.
As Californians, we can be proud that our state leads the rest of the
country in our commitment to new forms of energy and energy efficiency.
I have set a goal of 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020, and
I intend to meet it by the appointments I make and the actions they
take. There are hundreds of thousands of new jobs to be created if
California regulatory authorities make sensible and bold decisions. It
will also be necessary to make sure that our laws and rules focus on
our most important objectives, minimizing delays and unnecessary costs.
I will meet not only with the leaders of energy companies but with
executives from a broad range of California business and industry to
work on common problems and break down barriers that hold us back. We
live, after all, in the eighth largest economy in the world. Over the
last decade, California has outpaced the nation in the growth of our
gross domestic product and in our productivity per capita.
It strikes me that what we face together as Californians are not so
much problems but rather conditions, life’s inherent
difficulties. A problem can be solved or forgotten, but a condition
always remains. It remains to elicit the best from each of us and show
us how we depend on one another and how we have to work together.
Jerry Brown was sworn in as Governor
of California, succeeding Arnold Schwarzenegger on January 3, 2011. For
the Record is an edited excerpt of his Inaugural Address.