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Then-Democratic candidate for governor Jerry Brown (R) speaks as then-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (L) looks on during a discussion moderated by 'Today' show host Matt Lauer during the Women's Conference 2010 on October 26, 2010 at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, California.
Gov. Jerry Brown memorably warned California lawmakers after returning for a third term in 2011 that they would soon be "playing the veto blues."
But an analysis of the two-year legislative session that ended Sunday reveals the Democratic governor has rejected just 13 percent of the 1,866 bills that crossed his desk.
That's the lowest veto rate of any governor since Brown first sat in the governor's office during his two terms in the 1970s and 80s. Brown's predecessor, Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, vetoed bills at twice that rate.
The Associated Press gathered the signing and veto statistics Tuesday from the California State Library and the secretary of the Senate after Brown completed his bill action this weekend.
Veto rates among California's governors had been creeping up until Brown returned to the governor's office in January 2011.
Former governor George Deukmejian, the Republican who succeeded Brown, vetoed 15 percent of bills. Gov. Pete Wilson, a Republican, vetoed 17 percent while Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat, vetoed 18 percent.
Schwarzenegger vetoed 27 percent of the bills sent to him during his tenure. He set a record in 2009 when he rejected 35 percent of the bills that reached his desk, according to a Senate Committee on Governance and Finance report released Monday.
Unlike Brown, Schwarzenegger was acting on bills sent to him by a Legislature controlled by the opposite party. Democrats have a majority in the Senate and Assembly.
Brown has been averse to vetoes throughout his career. On average, he rejected about 4 percent of bills during his first two terms as governor and set a record in 1982 when he approved 98 percent of the bills that crossed his desk, according to the Senate report.
Gil Duran, a spokesman for Brown, characterized the governor's legislative actions as commonsensical.
"Quality is a more important measure than quantity," he said in an email.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times last month, Brown implied that he would veto more bills if he were not constrained by the need to stay on friendly terms with lawmakers.
"Even for me to slow the machine down, they get mad at me," he told the newspaper.
Brown's father, Pat Brown, had a veto rate of 6 percent when he was governor in the 1960s.
The number of bills lawmakers introduce each year also has been falling. The two-year session that ended in August saw lawmakers introduce 4,280 bills. In the 1991-92 session, lawmakers proposed 5,903 pieces of legislation.
While Brown's veto statements may be relatively rare, they are often cutting.
On Saturday, for instance, he vetoed a bill excluding already ineligible materials from a recycling program this way: "This rather terse amendment would codify the obvious without any discernible impact. More is required to earn a place in our Public Resources Code."