SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown cheered California's comeback in the State of the State address he delivered to the Legislature on Wednesday, but he also warned of lingering economic and environmental problems that threaten California's future.
During a 17-minute speech devoid of surprises, Brown mixed praise for the state's huge budget surplus with concern for California's "enormous and ever-growing" pool of long-term liabilities and the current drought.
Lawmakers responded to that message with a combination of support and skepticism. An odd alignment of Democrats and Republicans applauded Brown's fiscal prudence, while some liberal legislators and a Republican candidate for governor hammered Brown for not addressing the state's high level of joblessness.
In his speech, Brown said the Golden State has much to be proud of, but he urged the Legislature to proceed with caution this year.
"We are not out of the woods, and we certainly are not out of the drought," Brown said.
"Life is uncertainty, the climate is changing -- not for the better -- and the business cycle and the stock market are historically volatile, with good years followed by bad, with painful regularity," he added.
Though it is not clear what role heat-trapping gases have played in the state's latest streak of dry weather, Brown said, the extreme conditions should serve as "a stark warning of things to come."
"This means more droughts and more extreme weather events, and, in California, more forest fires and less snowpack," he said.
Brown also used the speech to reaffirm his commitment to fiscal prudence ahead of his widely expected run for re-election, political analysts said.
Referencing biblical advice to "put away your surplus during the years of great plenty," the governor again pledged to pay down the state's debt and put some of its extra cash in a rainy-day fund -- a theme that won praise from Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike.
Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff said Brown's plan to pay off some of the state's credit cards and build a rainy-day reserve make him "sound more Republican each day."
Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Antioch, also said he supports Brown's commitment to "responsible, prudent spending" and "continued investment to a solid rainy-day fund."
But Brown's address was immediately attacked by Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official who formally entered the race on Tuesday.
"Gov. Brown may claim a California comeback, but the truth is that he has forgotten the millions of California families who are struggling," Kashkari said. "Twenty-four percent of our fellow Californians live in poverty. Yet how many times did the governor mention poverty in his 17-minute address? Not once. That is outrageous."
In his speech, Brown said 1 million new jobs have been created in California since 2010 and that the surging economy and tax increases approved by voters in 2012 signal budget surpluses for the next several years.
Still, some members of Brown's own party criticized him for not mentioning the state's urgent need for job growth in his address.
"It is great that California is on its way back, and Gov. Jerry Brown and the people of California deserve credit for turning things around from high deficits and budget disasters," said Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Nora Campos, D-San Jose. "But for too many, jobs are still hard to find and families are still struggling in poverty."
Brown has delivered more State of the State addresses than any other California governor.
This latest version serves as a marker for the achievements Brown will likely highlight on the campaign trail, said Bill Whalen, a former aide to Republican Gov. Pete Wilson who is now a fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution.
"He wanted to use this speech to set a marker for progress and fiscal restraint," Whalen said. "He didn't want to crowd the speech and pollute it with unpopular problems like teacher pensions or high-speed rail."
Indeed, the governor only made a passing reference to a project he has championed -- the beleaguered $68 billion bullet train.
The governor has not yet declared whether he will seek re-election, but he has already collected nearly $17 million for a campaign. It would be his last term as governor after serving from 1975 to 1982, then returning to the office in 2011.
Brown also applauded the Legislature for passing a new school funding formula last year that sends more money to needy students -- and working together to try to solve the prison overcrowding problem.
Despite the tough road ahead with no way to predict the end of the state's fiscal and environmental challenges, Brown called California the "state of innovation."
"We have 25 percent of the nation's foreign born, and we are the first state in modern times to have a plurality of families of Latino origin. So it's not surprising that California is the state where immigrants can not only dream -- they can drive," Brown said.