Jerry Brown

Jerry Brown TIME 100
Steve Schofield—Contour/Getty Images

California's turnaround artist

Things are looking up in California. Governor Jerry Brown has eliminated a $26 billion deficit, getting legislators to make painful cuts and persuading voters to increase their taxes. Last year California was a national leader, creating 320,000 private-sector jobs. Our unemployment rate dropped from 12.5% to 8%.

How did that happen? Governor Brown preached restraint. His frugality comes in part from three years as a Jesuit seminarian. I recall his refusal, in 1975, to replace the old carpet he inherited from Governor Reagan. When it became threadbare, with a sizable hole, he still refused to repair it — believing if he lived modestly others might too and would save the state money.

Always ahead of his time, he’s focused on fighting climate change, improving poorly performing schools, building America’s first high-speed rail and overhauling California’s broken water system — supporting America’s largest agricultural economy.

No longer the new kid, he’s now the adult in the room — the wise steward of our state’s resources.

Davis was governor of California from 1999 to 2003

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