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Brown Decries Polarized Political Atmosphere

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Gov. Jerry Brown decried a political tone in the state Capitol and across the nation that he says is more hostile than when he was California governor from 1975 to 1983.

Brown was Tuesday’s KVML “Newsmaker of the Day”.

The Governor said the nation has strayed from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of equality and civility.

“What is the vision today? The vision is divisiveness,” Brown told a gathering of black state lawmakers in Sacramento. “I mean, I know politics is always negative … but the attacks on President Obama go beyond what is usual.”

Brown, California’s Democratic governor, urged people in the state and elsewhere to strike a less polarizing tone.

His remark drew loud applause from several hundred people gathered for the breakfast celebrating the life of the slain civil rights leader .

Brown, who sought the Democratic nomination for president three times, said King faced institutionalized segregation yet was able to embolden change – something “we’re facing now” as the state struggles with high dropout rates and a growing prison system.

“We have a set pattern of practices and we’re all going along with it, and yet we know the results are not good in terms of what’s happening to poor kids, what’s happening to those that drop out of school, what happens to this huge self-replicating prison system, and growing inequity, the fact that income is moving up to the few,” he said.

Brown said California should be focused not on handing out tax breaks to the wealthy but investing in schools and roads – moves that benefit society as a whole. He said the growing hostility toward government services has created an imbalance against those public investments.

“The fact is we need to have a balance, and right now the balance is tilting against the common purpose that holds us all together,” Brown said.

He described a need for Republicans and Democrats to work together as he faces a $25.4 billion budget gap. On Thursday he reaffirmed former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s order giving lawmakers 45 days to deal with the fiscal crisis.

Last month, Brown released his plan to balance the state’s deficit over the next 18 months. He called for a combination of spending cuts, extensions of tax hikes that are due to expire this year and tax-law changes.

He wants a special election in June so voters can decide whether to extend increases in the sales, income and vehicle taxes for five years, but Republican legislative leaders immediately said they would oppose any effort to place the question on the ballot.

The “Newsmaker of the Day” is heard each weekday morning on AM 1450 KVML at 6:47, 7:47 and 8:47am.

Written by the Associated Press and mark@mlode.com