Republican legislators representing Lake Tahoe criticize Brown’s State of State address | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Republican legislators representing Lake Tahoe criticize Brown’s State of State address

Staff and Wire Report

California Gov. Jerry Brown waves as he receives applause from Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, left, and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, of Los Angeles before giving his annual State of the State speech before a joint session of the Legislature, Thursday.

California Gov. Jerry Brown delivered his 16th and, presumably, his final State of the State address, Thursday. And, as to be expected, South Lake Tahoe's representatives in the state Legislature — both Republicans — had their share of criticism.

"Today, Governor Brown provided an optimistic vision of California. While I too am optimistic for our future, we must be realistic about the state of our state," Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, R-O'Neals, said in a statement following the address.

State Sen. Ted Gaines, R-El Dorado, offered similar critiques of Brown, a Democrat, and his address.

"I'm glad that the state's revenues are still healthy, but that will mean nothing if we don't get our spending priorities straight and cut spending overall," Gaines said in a statement.

Brown, who was first elected governor in 1974 for two terms and again in 2010, celebrated California's economic and environmental progress while issuing a dire warning about dangers from climate change and the threat of nuclear war.

When he took office in 2011 California faced a $27 billion budget hole and high unemployment. Seven years later, the state has a roughly $6 billion budget surplus. Brown touted efforts to boost K-12 spending, lessen prison overcrowding and advance a slate of policies to confront a warming climate.

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Aside from boasting about California's accomplishments, Brown defended two ongoing infrastructure projects that face public and legislative skepticism: The proposed bullet train from Los Angeles to San Francisco and a plan to re-route water from north to south through one or two massive tunnels — the first of those came under fire from Bigelow, Gaines and their fellow Republicans.

"High speed rail is the first transportation system to run entirely on taxpayer money, a miracle fuel that Governor Brown imagines never runs out," Gaines said. "The 'train to nowhere' is such a colossal waste of cash that could be used to repair our crumbling roads or invest in our universities or any one of a thousand other, better uses."

Costs of the train have skyrocketed, most recently by $3 billion for a segment in the Central Valley, and its proposed timeline of opening by 2029 could be delayed. It would be the nation's first high-speed rail.

"I make no bones about it. I like trains and I like high-speed trains even better," Brown said. "Difficulties challenge us but they can't discourage us or stop us."

The Associated Press and Tahoe Daily Tribune staff contributed to this report.