The following comes from a January 25 posting on the website of the California Catholic Conference.

In one of the most optimistic State of the State addresses in many years, Governor Jerry Brown touted California’s slow, but growing economic recovery while at the same time warning the Legislature to remain disciplined.

In a passionate, twenty minute speech the Governor highlighted his commitment to education, gave a brief history lesson of California – from the founding of the missions to the creation of Silicon Valley – and challenged lawmakers to embrace a strong vision for the future of the Golden State.

The sense of relief over the improving fiscal situation in the Golden State was almost palpable during the joint session of the Senate and Assembly on Thursday.  While congratulating legislators on their fiscal actions over the past few years, the Governor vowed not to return to the boom-and-bust cycle that has plagued the state.

“This means living within our means and not spending what we don’t have,” he said.  “Fiscal discipline is not the enemy of our good intentions but the basis for realizing them.  It is cruel to lead people on by expanding good programs, only to cut them back when the funding disappears.”

Once again, Governor Brown returned to what can almost be called his “theme” of recent months – the Catholic principle of subsidiarity.  He referenced the principle both in his discussion of education and in urging the legislature to cut back on the number of new laws they enact each year.

“Subsidiarity is offended when distant authorities prescribe in minute detail what is taught, how it is taught and how it is to be measured.  I would prefer to trust our teachers who are in the classroom each day, doing the real work – lighting fires in young minds,” he said.

He illustrated his point by allegory – comparing the succinctness of the Ten Commandments to the many volumes of the California Education Code.  (In other Biblical references, Governor Brown used the story of Joseph and Pharaoh to caution lawmakers on preparing for lean years during time of surpluses.)

He also highlighted his upcoming effort to reform education financing in the state, giving teachers, principals and local authorities more flexibility in using supplemental education funds.

The notion of subsidiarity is very evident in Catholic and other successful schools which – among other principles – encourage and promote the involvement of parents in all aspects of a child’s education.   (Next week is Catholic Schools Week, which celebrates the achievement of the Church’s long-standing educational ministry.)

He also restated his remarks on education from last week’s Budget press conference: “A child in a family making $20,000 a year or speaking a language different from English or living in a foster home requires more help. Equal treatment for children in unequal situations is not justice.”

Governor Brown devoted the largest portion of his speech to education but also spoke of health care, jobs, water, transportation, energy and climate change.

As part of his cautionary approach, the Governor emphasized the uncertain nature of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) – calling for a special session of the legislature to implement the new Federal program.

Few are very clear on how much the PPACA will cost states and not all states are moving to expansion of Medicaid (Medi-Cal) as California is.  There is also the added complication for Catholic employers of the contraception mandate promulgated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Catholic health care ministries generally agree with the Governor’s cautionary tone that the broader expansion of Medi-Cal is a complex issue that will take considerable time and reflection.  It will be imperative to advocate for adequate payments for hospital services that preserve and protect the health care safety net.

“We join with the Governor in appreciation of the growing fiscal security of the state, his call for subsidiarity in many policies and his proposal to reform education funding” said Edward ‘Ned’ Dolejsi, Executive Director of the California Catholic Conference. “These all deserve thoughtful consideration and discussion.

“As with his proposed budget announced last week, however, we question the lack of acknowledgement for the poor and vulnerable of the state.  Some of the people who have paid the highest price during the downturn are those in need and the Governor has not yet addressed that issue.  We call on him and the legislature to do so,” Dolejsi said.

To read original posting, click here.