- Associated Press - Monday, January 5, 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California Gov. Jerry Brown was sworn in Monday for a record fourth term. Here are highlights of his speech:

CLIMATE CHANGE

Brown called on the state to increase renewable electricity use to 50 percent by 2030. The current state goal calls for 33 percent of energy use to come from renewable sources by 2020.

Brown also wants to reduce petroleum use in vehicles, double the energy efficiency of existing buildings and make heating fuels cleaner within the next 15 years.

The governor said the state should do its part on meeting a United Nations goal to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius by 2050.

“I envision a wide range of initiatives: more distributed power, expanded rooftop solar, micro-grids, an energy imbalance market, battery storage, the full integration of information technology and electrical distribution and millions of electric and low-carbon vehicles,” he said. “How we achieve these goals and what pace will take great thought and imagination mixed with pragmatic caution.”

He added, “This is exciting, it is bold and it is absolutely necessary if we are to have any chance of stopping potentially catastrophic changes to our climate system.”

EDUCATION

California is implementing an education funding distribution law known as the local control funding formula, and Brown said he will work with lawmakers to make sure the new system works.

Under the K-12 funding formula, the state will channel additional money to school districts with high levels of low-income students and those with limited English proficiency.

Brown also said the state will have to recruit and train tens of thousands of teachers and implement the new Common Core State Standards. However, he has resisted efforts by reform advocates to change job protections for teachers.

“Teachers need to be held accountable but never forget: they have a tough job to do,” Brown said. “They need our encouragement, not endless regulations and micro-management from afar.”

HIGHER EDUCATION

Brown pledged to fight a vote by the University of California Board of Regents for tuition increases of as much as 5 percent during each of the next five years unless the state approves more money for the 10-campus system.

“I will not make the students of California the default financiers of our colleges and universities,” he said.

HEALTH CARE

California was the first state to embrace the Affordable Care Act and expanded its Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal. Brown said the massive commitment will require more state spending as the state enrolls 12.2 million people in the new budget year.

“Providing the security of health coverage to so many Californians who need it is the right thing to do,” he said. “But it isn’t free. Although the federal government will temporarily foot much of the bill, new state costs - now and more so in the future - will run into the billions.”

PUBLIC SAFETY

California has been under a court order to reduce prison overcrowding and Brown led the charge to place thousands of lower-level offenders in county jails under a realignment program. Voters also modified criminal laws through Propositions 36 and 47 to reduce the scope of the state’s three-strike law and change certain felonies to misdemeanors.

“All these changes attempt to find less expensive, more compassionate and more effective ways to deal with crime,” Brown said. “This is work that is as profoundly important as it is difficult, yet we must never cease in our efforts to assure liberty and justice for all.”

RETIREE HEALTH CARE

“We have now taken steps to deal with the unfunded teachers’ pensions and those of the public employees,” Brown said. “For the next effort, I intend to ask our state employees to help start pre-funding our retiree health obligations which are rising rapidly.”

INFRASTRUCTURE

Brown said the state has begun to grapple with long-term infrastructure challenges through the passage of a water bond, but he asked Democrats and Republicans to join him in tackling other state needs such as roads, highways and bridges.

“It is estimated that our state has accumulated $59 billion in needed upkeep and maintenance,” he said. “Each year, we fall further and further behind and we must do something about it.”

Brown also strengthened his push for a $68 billion high-speed rail project and will attend a groundbreaking ceremony in Fresno on Tuesday even though it remains controversial. The project faces a blackout from the Republican-dominated House of Representatives, but Brown has secured a source of ongoing state funds from the state’s cap-and-trade pollution fees.

FUTURE

“We are at a crossroads,” Brown said. “With big and important new programs now launched and the budget carefully balanced, the challenge is to build for the future, not steal from it.”

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