Jerry Brown speaks with Eric Schmidt

Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 12.04.2010

Good morning, Googlers. Thanks for being here.
I'm Alan Davidson, your policy guy in Washington, D.C.
And on behalf of the visits team and Google NetPAC, I'd like to welcome you to the first
in our series of 2010 campaign forums. And today we're going to be joined by California's
current attorney general and the Democratic candidate -- a Democratic candidate for governor,
Jerry Brown. As some of you probably recall, in 2008, we
led and had an extraordinary series of visits from presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton,
John McCain, now President Barack Obama. And we are going to be hoping to follow in
those footsteps with a series in 2010 focused on statewide races.
And today's the first of those. Short commercial message.
In -- next week, on Tuesday, we'll be joined by insurance commissioner Steve Poizner, Poizner,
rather, who is one of the leading Republican candidates for the governor's race.
And we invite you all to come. I should also note that we have invited Meg
Whitman, another of the major candidates for the governor's race, despite her checkered
past, at a small company down the road. And we're very hopeful that she'll join us,
probably after the primaries. Just a short word about Governor Brown.
You know, at Google, we take pride in being fully engaged in the world around us.
That includes our own backyard and our own home state.
So it is really appropriate and great that we're able to kick off this series by hearing
Governor Brown's visionary -- or former Governor Brown's, Attorney General Brown's vision for
California. Jerry Brown has a storied history in California
politics. His father was governor of California from
1959 to 1967. He himself was elected to governor twice,
in 1974 and then again in 1978. He's run for president three times.
And in the 1992 race, in fact, I remember very well, he refused to take contributions
larger than $100 and used an 800 number, which we learned was still in existence -- is still
in existence today -- used an 800 number to raise funds.
I just say, you know, the Internet really could have helped you back then.
[ Laughter ] >>> I hope you'll use it this time around
more. In 1998, Brown ran for mayor of Oakland and
won. He was re-elected in 2002.
Today, he is California's attorney general, and a Democratic candidate for governor.
He is going to be joined today on the podium by our CEO, of course, Eric Schmidt, who will
lead us in a short fireside chat. Then we will open it up for your questions.
Please join me in welcoming Eric and Jerry Brown.
[ Applause ] >>Eric Schmidt: Well, thank you, Alan.
And, governor, welcome to Google? >>Hon. Jerry Brown: Thank you.
>>Eric Schmidt: You have served our nation and our state for many, many years, as a governor,
twice. And you're now running for governor again.
Now, it seems to me that the state that you're thinking about becoming governor again, let's
see, it's the sixth or seventh largest in the -- economy in the world.
If it were, it would be a bankrupt country, $41 billion of debt.
A million employees. >>Hon. Jerry Brown: Wait a minute --
>>Eric Schmidt: I haven't even asked my question. >>Hon. Jerry Brown: We compare very favorably
with Greece. [ Laughter ]
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: And I want to explain why.
The -- >>Eric Schmidt: Let me just ask my question,
governor. >>Hon. Jerry Brown: Go ahead.
Well, this is not about answering your question, but just a factoid.
But go ahead. >>Eric Schmidt: The question is, why in the
world do you want to be governor of California? >>Hon. Jerry Brown: All right.
>>Eric Schmidt: You've already been it. >>Hon. Jerry Brown: Yeah, I've already been
it. But that was different.
That's when the budget was one-sixth of what it is today and we didn't have all these problems
that have been created by all the governors that came after me.
[ Laughter ] >>Hon. Jerry Brown: So -- no, I have to mention
the comparison with Greece. The relationship of the deficit in Greece
to the national gross domestic product is about 12%.
In the United States, the federal government is 10%.
In California, it's in the range of 1 to one and a half percent.
So when you only have a 1, 1.5% deficit and your gross product is 1.7 trillion in a bad
year, you've got a manageable problem. And I do think it's serious.
It really is going to call forth for a lot of collaboration and courage, much of which
we haven't seen in the past. But it's doable.
Why I want to do this? That is a good question.
I ask myself that over and over again. I am drawn to the task.
Perhaps as to the fire. But I have studied this government for most
of my life. I studied it, really, when my father was governor
and attorney general. And I did this for eight years.
I learned a tremendous amount. And then after that, I went on to do other
things. And looking back, now I see it from the point
of view of being a mayor for eight years, being a lawyer for the governor and the state
departments. So I've seen all the variations and aspects
of what this government is, and also the politics in which it's embedded.
And I really think that I could make a difference and I could -- that I can grapple with these
problems in a very effective way. And I was very glad to see -- there was a
research report out that showed that the older people are, the greater their wisdom.
This is now empirically based. And if we --
>>Eric Schmidt: You're speaking to a young crowd.
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: Right. [ Laughter ]
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: Well, I want to have something -- you have something to look forward to.
[ Laughter ] >>Hon. Jerry Brown: So wisdom.
There's a few other things that may not be in as great supply.
But I would say that wisdom is something we need, insight.
This is not something you kind of wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and
say, "Gee, I'd like to be governor." There's a lot to this.
And I think we can pull it off, we can pull Californians together.
But it's going to have to be very creative. It's going to have to be very courageous.
And I think it's going to have to be based on knowledge and skill and familiarity with
what's at stake. And what's involved.
So that's why I'm doing it. >>Eric Schmidt: So when you were younger,
less wise, for both of us, you were quite an interesting governor.
You, among other things, proposed a satellite for California.
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: I did. That's -- the reason I proposed a satellite
was because we had a state astronaut in those days.
Rusty Schweikart, from Apollo 17, was a man I met, and he made him my science advisor.
>>Eric Schmidt: Everyone has a satellite now. We have a satellite.
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: Right. But no governor at that point --
>>Eric Schmidt: We have our own astronaut. >>Hon. Jerry Brown: Do you have your own astronaut?
>>Eric Schmidt: Yes, of course. We have a couple.
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: Yeah, but this is Google, not the state of California.
And we're much slower in our introduction of new thoughts.
So the idea of the satellite, quite frankly, I used to ride the plane -- at that time,
it was PSA -- and I'd go back and forth from L.A. to Sacramento.
And I saw all these government workers carrying their briefcases.
I thought, moving all this weight around, couldn't we do it digitally?
Couldn't we do it by satellite? And that was the genesis of the Syncom IV
satellite, which we could have had for $5 million back in 1978, had the legislature
gone along with it. >>Eric Schmidt: Of course, this led you to
your most famous name of the time. >>Hon. Jerry Brown: Yeah, Governor Moonbeam.
But I earned that not just from the state satellite, from many other things that I did.
That had a certain -- >>Eric Schmidt: I've been dying to ask you
this question. You were the governor when I first came to
California. And you refused to go in the limo.
And, instead, you insisted on going in the government Plymouth.
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: Yes. >>Eric Schmidt: And this Plymouth, by the
way, is in the state museum. It has been suggested that because of the
deficit, this Plymouth be sold to raise funds. When you also were governor, you refused to
sleep in the governor's mansion. Was this some sort of rejection of father
or something like that? Or what was going on in the 1970s.
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: You want me to link the Plymouth with the not living in the mansion?
>>Eric Schmidt: Yeah. >>Hon. Jerry Brown: Well, the two -- well,
it's very simple. I didn't live in the mansion because the mansion,
first of all, was in the suburbs, 20 minutes away.
Nancy Reagan had moved out of the old mansion, which was perfectly fine.
But they didn't like the neighborhood. And so I thought me living in this new suburban
mansion would be silly, because it was huge, by myself.
So I thought a little apartment right across from the capitol would not only be very convenient,
but it was a contribution to revitalizing downtown Sacramento.
And I did that in Oakland. I did it in Sacramento before.
And I'm very interested in seeing 24-hour cities where people work and play and study
until close proximity. As far as the Plymouth, now, the reason why
I sold -- Ronald Reagan, he was the governor before me.
And he drove around or was driven around in a bullet-proof limousine that had belonged
to J. Edgar Hoover. I thought that would be a good thing to get
rid of. So that's -- there was a reason for that.
One time, my father -- we were in the -- we were in my father's limousine.
It was a Lincoln when he was governor. We went to the basketball game, the opening
of giants stadium. And the people in the crowd pounded on the
windows, they were yelling at my father because he was running into political difficulties
at the time. When all those people were pressing their
face and pounding on it, I said I was never going to drive in a limousine.
>>Eric Schmidt: Talk about a formative event. >>Hon. Jerry Brown: I thought if I was in
a more modest car they wouldn't pound on the window in quite the same way.
>>Eric Schmidt: In the 1980s, you gained a reputation of being quite a progressive.
And your opponents today are using this against you.
But, for example, in 1980, you talked about the need for universal health insurance.
And many other things that you tried to pioneer when you were governor.
Has your view of all of this changed? Do you still think you were right back then?
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: Well, certainly in the field of alternative energy, and I would say
that my thinking on efficiency and renewable energy was very much stimulated by the Arab
oil embargo, the recession of '73 and '74 that was around this problem of excessive
energy use. So California, within eight years, became
the world leader in renewable energy. And if we count from then till now, Californians
have probably saved over $50 billion in energy efficiency because of our appliance standards
and the building standards. So I think those ideas are right on.
And at that time, we were talking about solar hot water.
Now we're talking about sort of photovoltaic. But it's the same thing, introduction of new
ideas. California is a state of imagination.
And imagination is what we need to get out of the bind.
We need to change the design. We need to introduce new ideas, and, quite
frankly, I've always been interested in the creative mind.
I had a teacher once that I put him on the Board of Regents.
And he inscribed one of the books he wrote, he said, "The new comes out of the random."
The new comes out of the random. I've been thinking a lot about that.
Some people think I am a little random. But unless you open the possibilities, you
rarely come up with something new. If you rigidly are programmed, if you're managing
what is, you can't create what really needs to be.
And that was the spirit then; I think it will be the spirit --
>>Eric Schmidt: And then you ran for president a couple of times, three times.
And then, eventually, you ended up as mayor of Oakland.
And I suspect that of all of the public service roles you enjoyed, you probably enjoyed that
the most after figuring out how to do it. Is that true?
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: that is true. >>Eric Schmidt: What was it like being mayor
of Oakland? >>Hon. Jerry Brown: Well, it was very different
than running for president -- running for mayor, that is.
And being mayor is very different than being governor.
You don't have to fly around in airplanes. Everything is within 15 minutes of where you
are. What's interesting about being mayor is, you're
in one place, and you really get to understand and know people, street corners, schools,
policemen, criminals, businesses. And I was able to go into the city, which
had a very undeveloped downtown, a lot of parking lots, a lot of crime, and actually
bring in thousands of people, thousands of new condominiums and apartments, new art galleries,
new businesses, an art school, restoration of the Fox theater.
So the downtown now is a very vital place. And what I really enjoyed about being mayor
of Oakland was to be able to revitalize the downtown next to the Bart.
So this Bart system that my father had started back in the sixties, all those many years,
now became the catalyst for revitalizing downtown Oakland, because it's only 12 minutes from
San Francisco and five minutes from Berkeley and 15 minutes from Walnut Creek.
So it became a hub, an urban village, with art galleries, with schools, with commercial
art theaters, and people living there. So building that, seeing stuff come out of
the ground, that's very exciting. As a governor, you're dealing with more laws
and bills and appointments, much longer-range, more abstract, and not the concrete change
and expression that you see as being a mayor of a city.
>>Eric Schmidt: did you -- have your views on progressive issues changed much?
Because they don't seem to have -- if I look at your support for, for example, against
Prop. 8, I don't see much change in your views there.
Can you talk about A.B.32, Proposition 8, some of the big political issues that the
state faces. >>Hon. Jerry Brown: Well, certainly environment
was something that was really coming to the fore in the '70s.
Remember, Earth Day was 1970. The National Environmental Policy Act was
'69. The California Environmental Quality Act was
the same year. And this had all been put into effect under
Republican administrations. Reagan in California, Nixon in Washington.
And then when I came in in 1975, we really began to implement these principles.
And then, you know, the rubber hit the road and there was a lot of resistance.
But during my years, I really promoted renewable energy, protection of the coast, protection
of wild rivers, protection of the redwoods. All these different quality of life, ecosystem
questions came to the fore, and they really -- I was in the spirit of California, the
spirit of the times. And I think today more than ever, these things
are salient. We now have climate change confronting us.
So I'd say, if anything, the issues that were more inchoate and embryonic in '75-'82 are
now in full force in their urgency and their importance.
>>Eric Schmidt: When you think about how you're going to serve us as governor again -- and
as you pointed out, the state is six times larger, an enormous economic and cultural
force today -- but even the Terminator couldn't run this government.
The fundamental problems, as you know, have to do with an overreliance on higher-income
income tax, which is seasonal, right, in other words, up and down.
So the state goes from boom to bust; a highly, highly difficult redistricting, where the
seats are quite safe, there's very little competition for state seats; a requirement
for a balanced -- a budget agreement of two-thirds, which is only in four or five states and very
difficult to achieve in any political environment, but especially in the rancorous times when
we have little money and all of these state services and people coming to the trough,
all of the usual pressure groups and so forth. So when you think about that and you walk
into it now, what will you do differently? How will you approach it differently?
How will you not end up as the Terminator governor, Governor Schwarzenegger, who started
off with enormous public support, but unfortunately -- and is a man I certainly respect -- is
now in approval ratings similar to that of Gray Davis, who you replaced?
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: Well, definitely, the legislature has about 15% approval.
The governor has 25%. And it's very hard to expect the people to
entrust too much responsibility to such discredited offices or officials.
And I think it's fair to say that approaching the government itself and the politics in
which it's embedded or in which it's enclosed, it does take knowledge.
If science requires training and preparation, if artistic production requires this, if business
requires this, I think you could say the same for this very different world of politics
and government. Some people say, well, this government is
just a business. You have good business experience.
But, actually, there's quite a bit of difference between being a CEO of business and being
a governor. First of all, a CEO often has very good relations
with the board of directors. Sometimes you get to -- get some of your key
people on the board. The board of directors for the governor is
the legislature. The legislature's independent, picked by the
people, and by constitutional provision and inclination, is out there checking, going
against, and really putting the pressure on. And you've got to woe, cajole, persuade.
You don't order. Secondly, in government, is, you can't fire
very many people. There's something called civil service.
People have a right to their job. Very hard to remove people.
Number two, you have collective bargaining. Every rule you're talking about has to be
embodied in a contract. Very different.
And then -- so you say, hey, I want to fire 10,000 people.
No, it doesn't work that way. Third, lots of public exposure.
You can't deal with -- there's not too much privacy here.
This is an open, transparent venue. And that's why I think the -- mastering the
skills of public administration in the elective arena requires a great deal of patience, insight,
empathy, understanding, all the different points of view.
If you just think of it -- you mentioned Proposition 8.
Sacramento has a representative from Kern County, that I think voted for Proposition
8 80%, and also has representatives from San Francisco that voted the opposite way.
And they're all there. And somehow you've got to get them all on
the same page. It takes skill, and it takes persuasion.
And then in working on the inside game, which is often deals, crafting these compromises,
but then out to the public, you have to inspire -- you need dreams; you have to inspire.
You need an eloquence that is very different than the skill set for working in the corridors
of the capitol. So on balance, it just -- there's a lot to
learn. And I feel that -- I feel that getting the
training eight -- so long ago, then seeing the consequences of things that worked and
things that didn't work. I started a law called the Political Reform
Act of 1974. And when I was mayor, there was one of the
provisions that would have stopped me from promoting economic growth.
So I went to court and actually had part of the law that I wrote invalidated.
And I think it's a very salutory experience to both make laws and unmake them all in the
same lifetime. Because you see every law has unintended consequences.
So I think these are the ingredients that I've developed to make a very positive outcome.
>>Eric Schmidt: What have you learned by being attorney general after being governor and
mayor? >>Hon. Jerry Brown: I've learned that often
the department heads and the governor don't know all the things that are going on.
There are these lawsuits, there's a number of areas in water and prisons and other areas.
And as attorney general, I have 1100 lawyers working, defending the state or doing other
kinds of legal actions. And, first of all, there's so many lawsuits.
There's so much complexity. And wrestling that stuff to the ground is
very challenging. And I think oftentimes the state makes agreements
that causes us to pay a lot of money later. We also see that sometimes the governor wants
to cut a budget, but then you find out people go to court and they get the cuts eliminated.
So you've got to know -- the laws are not only state laws, there are local laws, there's
the constitution, and there are the federal laws.
And we're enmeshed in all these contradictory commands.
And so moving through that complexity is something I didn't appreciate just how much of it there
was. And another thing I didn't appreciate as governor,
'cause each governor signs about 800 to 1,000 new laws a year, and when you pass a law,
somebody's got to enforce that darned thing. It isn't just do good.
It's if you don't do good, you can get sued and go to jail or pay a tax.
And as attorney general, my office is often called upon to enforce these laws.
And businesses run afoul of many of them. And there's just tens of thousands of "thou
shalt not." And the density and the reach of the invasive,
minute prescriptions is breathtaking. And I've developed a very healthy distaste
for legislation. [ Laughter ]
>>Eric Schmidt: Interesting. Speaking as a lawyer, governor, mayor, and
so forth. [ Applause ]
>>Eric Schmidt: When you -- another question has to do with the maturation of your own
understanding of the role of public safety, because one of the things that you did when
you went into Oakland was, you helped fix some of the chronic crime problems.
As attorney general, you've obviously dealt with a very significant sort of prison union,
police forces and so forth, and CHP and so forth.
Do you have a view now of how you would manage the public safety functions of three strikes
you're out laws, the sum of all of those are a very large percentage of California's budget.
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: Right. The prison system -- you could say the crime,
you've got crime is, you have criminal law. And then you have local police for the cities,
you have county sheriffs. Then you have the highway patrol.
And then you have prisons. And then you have state parole.
So it's a big system. Just taking the state piece of that, which
is not the biggest, the prisons consume 10% of the state budget.
When I was governor, they consumed between 2 and 3%.
So when you see a growth, call it 7%, 7% on a $100 billion budget is $7 billion.
That's a big difference. Then you say, what is it?
Well, you've got 160,000 people locked up. 120,000 leave every year.
So every month, 10,000 people walk out the door and 10,000 people walk in.
It is the best-managed hotel system in the world.
There is never a vacant bed. Or a vacant cell, I should say.
And so the real question, people talk about reducing prison overcrowding.
The problem is, when you let them out, they want to come back, because the median educational
attainment is seventh grade. There's massive dope addiction.
There's a lot of anger. And there's almost no rehabilitation or experience
of work while they're in prison. The prisons are basically -- people are idle
for years. Once when I was young, I was told that idleness
is the devil's workshop. Well, the devil has a lot of workshops in
California, like, 33 massive prisons where tens of thousands of men, very vigorous, very
energetic are sitting around doing nothing. I believe that work in prison, more education,
more drug treatment, re-entry, I think we can restructure the way the criminal justice
and crime control and prison and incarceration and sanctioned system work.
And I think we can save money. And I think we can improve public safety and
we can increase the productivity of all the individuals involved.
But it takes -- it takes knowing, understanding, and being focused.
Because the crime-prison is only one issue. You have the taxes and budget, and then you
have water, and then you have schools, and then you have highways, and then you have
the high-speed rail. All these things are pretty -- there's a lot
of complexity there. And that's why I say it's really important
to spend the time understanding the different key elements of what goes into the government
structure so you know where to go at -- what you need to do to get real change.
>>Eric Schmidt: When you look at the scale of the budget, education is actually a huge
part of what we're trying to do. >>Hon. Jerry Brown: The biggest part.
>>Eric Schmidt: And as you know, there are a series of initiatives that require massive
spending on education. Many people believe that there's a very, very
strong teacher's union involved as well. How will you change California education
-- I know you're interested in, for example, public charter schools.
How will you make it different as one of the biggest issues California faces?
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: Well, I want to say something about the teachers' union or the California
teachers' association, California federation of teachers.
I have two charter schools that do not have tenure, and there's no union representative.
And yet we are highly challenged to produce the high scores that we're looking for.
We're doing very well. The schools are doing excellent in college
admission. But, for example, in mathematics, in the military
school, last year -- >>Eric Schmidt: The Oakland military school.
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: The Oakland military school, I formed the Oakland Military Institute, 500
kids, sixth grade through twelfth. And the Oakland School for the Arts, sixth
grade through twelfth. Well, in the military school, we're still
around 20% proficient in math, and yet we can hire any math teacher we want.
We have after-school, we have Saturday class. There are embedded challenges, deficiencies
in low-income neighborhoods, low-income families where the income is very unstable, very inadequate,
lots of stress, gangs in the neighborhood, and when you translate that into the development
of the thinking of the kids, they come into school, it's pretty hard to get them interested
in algebra. The motivation is a big challenge.
So you've got to attract the teachers, particularly math and science teachers.
You have to motivate them. You have to hold students and kids to account,
because they have to take responsibility. And you have to have that bond between teacher
and student. And there's a lot of focus on national standards,
on data collection. But teaching is a mentoring kind of relationship.
It's one human being, the teacher, and these students.
And the relationship, the exchange, the identification, that's crucial in stimulating learning.
And I think we're losing a lot of that humanistic aspect of education as we try to find mechanistic
ways of producing outcomes. There's a lot of fashion in education.
The waves of reform keep occurring over -- and I've seen them over the last 30 years.
I think we have to focus on the basics. You have to have discipline in the schools,
you need inspiration. You have to find where the kids are emotionally
and intellectually, and move them along in a sequential, accountable way.
So I really feel the experience I've had in starting these two schools from scratch, developing
the leaders, getting rid of the ones who didn't work, and getting new ones over and over again,
seeing the parents, and I've learned a great deal.
And I think, for example, the theme, a school based on art, a school based on the military
school framework, leadership, competition, espirit de corpse.
There can be other themes: Hospitality industry, math and science.
I think we need to give an overall thematic context so that every kid in the school knows
what's expected and identifies with it and chooses it so that there will be other choices
in the school district where they can go. So I'm confident that California can make
real progress in education. >>Eric Schmidt: I'd like to talk a little
bit about the election. Today, there are two primary Republican challengers.
It appears as though you're the only significant candidate for the Democratic primary.
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: By the way, that was not of my own choosing.
I certainly was looking forward to a lot more candidates.
But they all went away. >>Eric Schmidt: They all went away.
And so it looks like you'll be the Democratic nominee, conventional wisdom.
And you have been relatively careful about getting started.
You face an extremely well-funded opponent in Meg Whitman.
And Steve Poizner, of course, we'll see next week.
What's the plan to win for you? >>Hon. Jerry Brown: Well, the plan to win
is not to waste scarce campaign funds. I've been hard at work at this, work at the
fund-raising, work at developing a campaign team, holding down expenses.
Certainly the way one runs a campaign might be an indication how one would run government.
And I run a very frugal operation. I think --
>>Eric Schmidt: Well, I called -- I called your office, and you answered the phone.
That's frugal. [ Laughter ]
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: I don't -- we have more people -- we have a lot of people now.
We're -- >>Eric Schmidt: Maybe you were doing the lunch
phone -- >>Hon. Jerry Brown: I'll pick up the phone,
because if it rings more than twice, I don't like that.
I want a prompt response. >>Eric Schmidt: I'm not making this up, by
the way. >>Hon. Jerry Brown: I'm always interested
who's calling. But -- So I've got a day job, called the attorney
general. We have a lot of issues.
We have antitrust issues. We have environment issues.
We have criminal issues. We have gang problems.
You have prescription drugs, underground economy. A lot of things.
I'm working on that. And I have to raise the money.
I don't just go write a check. >>Eric Schmidt: What's the money situation.
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: I have about 15 and a half million dollars in the bank.
I need to raise many millions more. >>Eric Schmidt: Why do you need so much money?
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: Because the focal point of campaigning are television ads, for the
most part. And the ads are enormously expensive.
They cost you $100,000 for one ad. And the key in the election are the decline-to-state
voters. And they often are not reading editorials,
political journals, but they are watching a sporting event, an entertainment show, the
Olympics. If one can buy a commercial and then you send
your message to that person without even asking their permission, over time, you get your
favorable impression over. And so a great deal, if not the predominant
part, of the campaign will be through the mechanism of TV commercials.
Now, that's not the only story. There's the press, both written and electronic.
There's the Internet. There's people-to-people meetings.
And over time, not in the month of April, but between April and November, there will
be a lot of back and forth among the candidates. >>Eric Schmidt: But when does that happen?
It seems to me that people are not engaged today in the governor's race for something
-- >>Hon. Jerry Brown: But you can't ask people
to be engaged every day or even every week between now and November.
It reaches a crescendo September, October, leading up to the election.
That's always the way it is. The interest level -- now, there are political
junkies that are following, on the Internet every day reading about this stuff.
But that's a very small subset of the number of people that are going to --
>>Eric Schmidt: But are you going to do a debate?
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: Well, I'd love to do debates. I hope that will be possible.
>>Eric Schmidt: So when will the debates be? >>Hon. Jerry Brown: I would tend to think
the debates will be in the fall. What happens now, in April and May, unless
it's pretty earth-shaking, is not going to shape the thinking of people in September
and October. And there will be changes in the budget, there
will be changes in the -- in the world events and news in Washington.
And all that affects the conversation and the debate in the campaign.
So my thought is very deliberate, well-paced campaign, not wasting unnecessary money.
I mean, these other candidates, I mean, I think Whitman has spent already $50 million.
I think Steve has spent three or four million. That's an enormous sum of money.
I've spent probably 500,000. But I think the -- the spending needs to be
modulated to -- for the biggest bang for the buck.
And I think we'll get that. And it will be not only on testing, it'll
be on Internet, it'll be people-to-people, and it'll be through the medium of public
debate, both by -- in a forum like this, but also across the airwaves.
She says, he says, and back and forth. All that creates news and facts and factoids
that will allow people to make their own decision. I'm confident that by the time of the election
in November, people will have enough information to decide which candidate is on their side,
which candidate is going to fight for their interests, and who do they most identify with.
And so I'm not at all concerned that there will be a lack of information.
If anything, there will be a surfeit of information. And people will be tired of it and want to
turn it off. >>Eric Schmidt: Why don't we get some questions
from the audience and get our audience to participate as well.
We have mikes here. My final question is, in the craft of politics
and of getting yourself elected, it's -- you're saying it's not going to be enough
to just have the Democratic party, the Democratic voters.
Is that a change from your first 1970s? >>Hon. Jerry Brown: Well, the decline-of-state
voters when I ran for governor was, I believe, no more than 3%.
It's now 20%. But even registered Democrats and registered
Republicans are not totally committed to their party.
So I think if you want to look at it just schematically, you can be confident that 85
to 90 -- 80 to 90% of the Republicans are going to vote for the Republican candidate.
80 to 90% of Democrats will vote for the Democratic candidate.
There's a marginal group in both parties that could move back and forth based on the campaign
and based on what they read and see. Then you have this group in the middle, the
decline to state, which often don't have as much interest as the committed people.
And their focus will emerge as we get closer to the election.
But they will be decisive. And their concerns are not the -- you know,
the excitement of the base as we call it, the hard-core Republican, the strong Democrat.
No, this decline to state is more skeptical, more dubious of government, and they're the
ones who will ultimately decide who the next governor is.
>>Eric Schmidt: Let's take our first question. Let me remind you all that you're on the record.
Yes, sir. >>> Eric asked a question about the state's
governability. And your response was about your knowledge
of inside baseball. I wonder if there's anything about the --
anything structural about the way the state is governed that you would be inclined to
change. And if there is, what would you do?
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: I'm glad you gave me a chance to elaborate on that.
The -- There is this two-thirds vote. But the two-thirds vote existed when my father
was governor, when Reagan was governor, when Warren was governor.
It wasn't that big of an impediment. There's something else going on.
The polarization between different groups in the society as expressed in the two parties
is much sharper, much more antagonistic. And that's true at the national level, it's
true at the state level. Something is going on in the society.
Perhaps it's the slowdown in growth, zero-sum game.
People aren't as accommodating. And that's just another barrier.
But I do believe that at the end of the day, people think -- enough people think, including
legislators, of California first. I think they see themselves as individuals,
as members of a larger community than just their partisan affiliation.
And that's what I would work on. So it isn't just the two-thirds vote or the
reapportionment or one of those things. So we can make some changes.
There's a reapportionment commission, there's a vote to make the primaries open.
>>Eric Schmidt: Are you, in fact, worried about the reapportionment commission.
As we know, it's private citizens. >>Hon. Jerry Brown: I'm not worried about
it at all. They say legislation is like making, you know,
salami or bologna. I think the reapportion will have some of
the same characteristics. The fact is, people are grouping themselves.
People in Bakersfield think differently than people in San Francisco.
And people in Orange County think differently than people in Alameda County.
There's a grouping of like, for whatever reasons. And see even if you redivide the legislative
pie in different ways, I don't think there will be a big difference.
There may be three or four seats. But, generally, we have the same problem.
There's more spending than there is revenues. There's a north and south dispute on water.
There's differences on what education should be, on the criminal law, labor relations.
These are still built in. And reapportion, I think, will have some impact.
But it's not decisive. >>Eric Schmidt: Yes, sir.
>>> Can you discuss your vision for the future of college education in California.
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: Yeah. My -- my vision is more abundant college education.
The -- my father was governor, he was able to build three new universities.
It was virtually free. And now tuition increases, elimination of
courses. I think we have to maintain a very powerful
commitment to higher education, as well as making sure the kids are prepared to get there.
And that is the engine of growth. It's also the foundation of citizenship and
our community. So I can't think of anything much more important
than a vibrant, accessible university system. >>Eric Schmidt: The issue, just to make clear,
is that both the college -- community system, as well as the U.C. system, of which you were
the chairman of the board and would become the chairman of the board again, are really
very, very seriously hit by the cut backs right now.
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: They are hit. >>Eric Schmidt: It really does affect them.
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: Here -- so let's -- it's good to kind of compare what happens over
time. When you look at a problem today, it's helpful
to see what were the ingredients over time that have constituted the problem.
Today, as I said, the prison spending is 10, not 2 or 3.
The spending on the health care for the poor, our Medi-Cal program, that's around 18% of
the budget. Used to be 10.
So if you take those two, you're talking about 15%.
15% on a 100 billion -- that's 12 to $15 billion that now is going to something that it didn't
go to 30 years ago. So I think we have to find savings in those
programs, and we have to find -- we have to reprioritize.
Because there is -- part of our duty is to take care of those who are less fortunate
and very vulnerable. And the other part of our responsibility,
very, very important, is to stimulate new thinking, new ideas, skill sets, imagination.
And there has to be the right balance. Because unless we're inventing and designing
the new, then we're stagnating. But if we're completely oblivious to the vulnerable,
then we're a very harsh society. So that's where I think wisdom comes in.
>>> Attorney General Brown, thanks so much for coming and sharing your thoughts with
us. Can you discuss the impact that the ballot
initiative process has had on the governability of California, particularly since Prop. 13,
which was passed around your time as governor. >>Hon. Jerry Brown: Yeah, Prop. 13 passed
in '78. By the way, it attracted the highest turnout
ever for a state primary election. And since that time, almost right afterwards,
one ballot measure after another constraining the governor, the legislature, setting down
more and more precise rules on how things need to be done.
So what you have here is, you have a chess game of government with fewer and fewer moves.
And that is driven by the frustration. So people have a widespread disgust at their
rep- -- at the mechanism of representation. So people then put on the ballot, often special
interests, some attractive-sounding measure. And people vote for it.
But the more they embed the system with these constraints, the more difficult it is to perform,
and the performance declines, and people want more and more initiatives to correct it.
So we're in a cycle, a rather destructive cycle.
And to get out of that, first of all, we need to get beyond that.
And I think the way we need to get beyond it is to make the governing process more transparent,
to make the key elements of government, the education, higher and K-12, the prison system,
the water, the energy, the roads, the medical care, make those key elements transparent,
accessible, understandable so people know, what are their tax dollars going for, what
is it doing, and where are the areas where we can modify.
And, quite frankly, I think I can conduct that kind of transparent process that will
reconnect the citizenry to their own government, something that I think has very much been
lost in recent years. >>Eric Schmidt: Go ahead.
>>> Hello. When you are talking about education, you
talked a lot about your philosophy and about the teacher-student connection.
You mentioned a little bit about the union. I would like to -- could you be a little more
specific about how that would translate into your actions as a governor.
Would you push policies against standardized testing, for example?
Or how would you interact with the teachers' union?
How would it affect -- and how important is it to you?
How would it affect your policies and what you'd do as a governor?
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: Yeah, I do think that this rush to national standards needs to be
carefully evaluated. California has had a testing -- and national
test. There are more and more tests.
We treat third-graders almost like we do young lawyers taking the bar review -- bar test.
Three days, intense, there's SAT tests, the state tests.
Then you have your normally tests in the classroom. So we need balance here.
And it's well to remember, by the way, that 30 years ago, there was virtually no talk
of national standards, national tests, pay for performance.
These are all kind of in ideas. And we ought to test those ideas before we
adopt them wholesale. So I do think that variety, we all learn in
different ways, imagination is crucial for -- and people learn and unfold in their lives
differently, and different people are interested in different things.
So, yes, we need some core standards. But I think the states ought to have wide
latitude in what they develop. I think schools also need -- you can't let
the curriculum be colonized by whatever the fashion of the moment is in requiring these
tests, and the data from the test, then judging the teachers, it becomes a very centralized
and rigid system. And I think decentralization is very important.
And the tolerance of disparate outcomes. And I think through competition, through transparency,
people will gravitate to what is best. But I do think the humanistic tradition is
being lost. Schools were conceived not as workforce factories
creating, you know, inputs to the workforce, but they were seen as places where disparate
Americans could come together and learn the common experience of what it is to be American
and what it is to be a citizen. And when you look at the gang problem in certain
schools, as well as the failure rate, you find out that citizenship and morality and
ethics is quite deficient on the agenda. So, yes, basic reading, math, science, legislature,
all those skills and the pathway to higher education, very important.
But you -- still, at the end of the day, from the time of Thomas Jefferson, we've always
assumed that a democracy can't work without an informed citizenry.
And critical thinking as well as basic common values are the mission of the public school,
and equally as important to some of the more recent demands that are being put on it.
Yeah. >>Eric Schmidt: Let's go ahead.
Next question. >>> Yeah.
What are your thoughts on the calls for a constitutional convention?
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: I think the convention could be a vehicle to either -- as another
step in the debate in resolving some of these California challenges, for example, the absolute
embedded gap between revenue and spending. So at some point, a convention might be the
vehicle to carry on the next level of the debate.
What do we really want as Californians? What kind of a budget, what -- what is our
government? What should it be?
And that's not a decision for one person or 120 people.
It's really, in a democracy, for the people themselves.
And then the problem becomes how do we facilitate that collective debate and ultimately collective
decision? The legislature is the key arena for that.
Initiatives also play a role. But given the break down where we are, it
might require at some point a convention to take the next step in resolving some of these
tough issues. I don't think they can all be resolved in
the legislature alone. At some point, the people are going to have
to weigh in on what kind of a California future do they want and what role do they see the
government playing in that. >>Eric Schmidt: do you think it will happen
when you're governor? >>Hon. Jerry Brown: It could.
It could. And it's certainly a mechanism that I'm looking
at, not as the first line of attack on the stalemate and the breakdown, but as, certainly,
a real-live possibility of something that should be seriously entertained.
>>Eric Schmidt: So we have -- we're running out of time.
We have three more questions. Let's have these be the last.
Yes, sir, go ahead. >>> Taxes in California.
Do you think we're taxing about the right level, taxing too much, taxing too little
and what do you think will happen under your administration?
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: Well, if past is prologue, when I was governor, contrary to what you
might see in some of these ads, there was never an increase in the sales tax, the income
tax during my years -- or the gas tax, wine tax, any of this.
We were blessed with a lot of vibrant economy. Created 1.9 million jobs.
Today, we're in trouble. And I've said there will be no new taxes unless
the people themselves want them and vote for them.
And that's part of the larger question of what do we really need to be doing in government
and how do we resolve these very sharp disputes? Because there are very different views on
this. And that's where I would like to see a very
transparent process that enables the people of this state to make decision.
And at some point in the legislative process, we may well have to go to the people and get
their view of how to resolve the budget gap. But I think the first line of attack here
is to make the most efficient government, not to try to do it all in one year.
I mean, when you're facing -- a lot of what we're missing now in terms of funding came
from the Wall Street debacle, the disappearance today, measured today in real terms, of 11
-- over $11 trillion in wealth. That was destroyed out of this mortgage debacle,
the securitization of all the subprime mortgages and what have you.
That unregulated Wall Street outcome is now causing suffering all over the world, including
states, cities, and school districts. So we shouldn't punish or diminish the important
work of schooling and health care and research and development in universities because we
had this excess of the debt-driven and fueled bubble.
I think we have to take time, take two or three years, or maybe longer, to work, to
finance a workout where we bring revenue and spending into line.
And I certainly would make every effort I could to live within the revenues that the
people would make available. >>Eric Schmidt: Yes, sir.
>>> So as a follow-up to that, on the spending side, you may have seen this recent article
by Joel Kotkin in which he pointed out that Texas, a similar state to us in size and demography,
spends far, far less, state government spends far, far less, and yet their outcomes in terms
of the core functions of state government -- roads, schools, and so forth -- are not
appreciably worse in quality than ours. What, if anything, do you think we can learn
from the experiences of other states about how to get better value for the money that
the state government spends? >>Hon. Jerry Brown: Well, I -- one example
of that would be in the Texas state prisons. The cost per inmate for medical care is about
$3700. And in California, it's about $14,000.
So I actually called the people in Texas, say, "How do you do that?"
And they've come out here and have been meeting with both the university, because they have
a medical capability, and the Department of Corrections, to examine, are there much cheaper
ways of doing it? Now, there are some explanations for that.
We have a very liberal ninth circuit court. And they're hearing literally thousands of
lawsuits against the state of California on Medi-Cal, but also on just sticking with the
one example, the prison system. And the state has been forced to spend billions
of dollars in response to all this litigation. And as attorney general, I am engaged on the
other side in fighting it. That's why I have a very clear understanding
of the excesses that have been brought about. And I think we've got to deal with it in court.
We have to deal with it in the legislature. We've got to deal with it through management.
And I think the prison system is one. I think you can look all across government.
If you see other ways we can do it more efficiently, yes, we can.
Do we have different kinds of politics and pressures?
We do. And you get certain benefits and you have
certain costs when you're in the state of California.
And you have to manage them. We're not Texas.
We're California. But that doesn't mean to say we can't get
a lot more efficient and a lot more creative and generate a lot more wealth.
That's what we have to do. At the end of the day, remember, we had a
gross state product of 1.7 trillion. There's a lot of wealth creation.
I think the key task here is, how do we encourage the continuous growth in that wealth creation
effort by the people of the state, and where we can learn something from Texas or New York
or Vermont, let's learn it. But even after we learn things, putting it
through the process, lots of resistance, lots of resistance.
But that's no reason why we shouldn't try. And we can do a lot better.
>>Eric Schmidt: Thank you. And you'll have the honor of the last question.
>>> Thanks again for joining us. The technology available to you during your
previous gubernatorial campaign was clearly different.
How do you plan to engage voters using the Internet in your current campaign?
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: Well, we certainly have a lot going on in social media.
We can -- you can go to the domain and get involved.
We have Facebook. We're looking -- I am seeing, when we look
at a campaign that will spend between 100 and $200 million, we're not going to be able
to equal that sum. So we are looking to the Internet, we're looking
to grass roots, we're looking to people from different communities, self-organizing in
ways that will join the debate, join the discussion, join our campaign.
And so we're going to take advantage of every tool that is available through the Internet
and other technologies so that we can be competitive. And it will take time to ramp this up.
But we are -- definitely feel that is going to be a key element in engaging people and
getting information to the voters so that by the time they go in in November, they will
be able to decide which candidate do I most identify with, who do I think will fight for
me. And, definitely, some of the tools you develop
here at Google are something we're looking at.
>>Eric Schmidt: Well, governor, your service to California has been a part of I think all
of our lives for many, many years. You've dedicated your whole public -- literally,
your whole adult life to public service and to trying to make the world a better place.
I think all of us have seen your sensibility and your approach, and I think all of us wish
you very good luck in this upcoming election. Thank you very much for coming to Google.
>>Hon. Jerry Brown: Thank you. [ Applause ]