Brown state of the state tonight, arguing for his budget plan

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California Governor Jerry Brown pauses as he speaks to reporters as he announces his proposed budget at the California State Capitol on January 10, 2011 in Sacramento, California.

Governor Jerry Brown talks to Californians this evening, laying out his plan to close a $25 billion state deficit. The State of the State address is at 5 p.m. John Myers covers state politics for the California Report and offers his analysis of what Brown will try to do in his speech.

"State of the state speeches often are really the best chance for a governor to talk to the public," says Myers. "That's probably the audience that Brown needs the most out of this speech.

"The governor has spent a lot of time with the Legislature in his first few weeks, talking to them privately, talking to them more than other governors have in person," says Myers. "I think the public hasn't heard from the governor as much about this budget crisis and his solutions."

Myers stresses the importance of Brown getting the public to support his plan. "Of course, the legislators in the audience are important, but he's gotta convince the public to get behind him and to let the legislators know that the plan he wants to push forward is the right one."

In a chat with reporters last week, according to Myers, Brown said he needs to lay out his plan to fix the budget while giving people a reason to believe that California's going to come back. "I think that's been Brown's message all along. Even if you go back to his inauguration to his campaign, he always believed that the state was fixable. You always hear these stories, is California governable or not – Jerry Brown believes that it is, if you do the right things, but the right things haven't been done for a long time in terms of honest budgeting up here in Sacramento."

Myers compared Brown with California's previous governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. "Schwarzenegger came in after that historic recall and talked in very broad terms about all the different things that needed to be done, and came in almost really as an unknown, and people I think were not certain of exactly where he would go in his relationship with the public. Arnold Schwarzenegger had an immense popularity with the public, personal popularity. If you look at a poll released last week, Jerry Brown's job approval ratings are actually relatively low, and I think that's mainly because people are somewhat skeptical of where we're going in general."

Myers says those low approval ratings aren't about Brown, but because Californians have been through tough times and had promises made but not delivered on. "I think the governor realizes that the public is in no mood for showmanship, and I think he has shown that over the first few weeks, and now the real question is can he get the Legislature on board, can he get this special election in June, can he get voters to consider this package of cuts and taxes."

As far as what to expect from the speech itself, Myers says it will likely be short. "Brown is not known for being long-winded. He's also not known for having great big flowery speeches. I think it's going to be simple, to the point. And I think it's going to be about the state's financial problems."

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