Jerry Brown's first 100 days: 'If he can't make it, where else can we turn?'
Gov. Jerry Brown's budget-balancing efforts over the past 100 days have received praise from citizens and pundits, but he has failed to get Republican support for tax extensions.
Despite his troubles – including a $26.4 billion deficit still only half-plugged – Gov. Jerry Brown (D) of California has gotten mostly good marks from polls and political analysts on his first 100 days in office.Skip to next paragraph
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His administration has focused almost entirely on balancing the California budget, which Governor Brown has tried to do through spending cuts and a tax extension that has found no Republican support – yet.
“Appraising Jerry Brown's first 100 days is like appraising the first lap of the Indy 500. He's moving as fast as he can, and he hasn't crashed yet. But it's too early to tell if he'll be successful in the end,” says Jack Pitney, professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif.
Recent polls show positive approval ratings from Californians. An April 7 poll found that 49 percent approve of his performance as governor, with 42 percent disapproving. The California Field Poll, released two weeks before, had a similar approval rating (48 percent) but much lower disapproval rate (21 percent).
Republican voters, not surprisingly, are not so enamored of Governor Brown. The Field Poll shows that only 25 percent approve and 35 percent disapprove of his job performance.
“Brown entered office in the midst of a financial crisis. He offers a leadership style that is clearly different from his predecessor and also from governors around the country attempting to solve their own budget problems,” says Craig Wheeland, a political scientist at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. “[He] established an agenda to deal with the financial problems made worse by the Great Recession and accomplished some important spending reductions. We should not expect much more from the first 100 days.”
Tuesday, his 100th day in office, finds Brown on the road, still searching for ways to close the state’s remaining $15 billion budget deficit. He signed 13 budget bills on March 24 that reduced the state deficit by $11 billion, mostly through spending cuts. But he still needs four Republican legislators to sign off on a tax extension to avoid the need for a special election or an all-cuts budget.
“A few months ago, I thought there was a chance that he would welcome Republicans pulling him to the right, but I was wrong,” says Roger Niello, a former Republican Assemblyman.
To build the needed Republican support, Brown is visiting GOP districts and appearing in press conferences with fire fighters, police officers, and educators whose budgets will be slashed if he can’t pass the tax extension.