Schwarzenegger, Smyth Say California Is Governable
But our state legislator insists that reforms must be
As Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger took to the podium this
afternoon, he quickly outlined, in one word, the condition of California:
Governor Schwarzenegger bypassed all other state matters and
exclaimed that nothing can or should get done before fixing the state's $42
billion dollar budget deficit.
"It doesn't make any sense to talk about education,
infrastructure, water, health care reform and all these things when we have
this huge budget deficit," Schwarzenegger said. "I will talk about my vision
for all of these things... and more... as soon as we get the budget done."
And with that, the Governor devoted the entirety of his 2009
State of the State Address to the budget.
With state legislators in their third special session,
intense negotiations are underway to find a common ground to not just replenish
this year's running deficit, but to also make some fixes and reforms to the budget
problem to prevent such a nightmare from occurring again.
Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, who represents Santa Clarita,
agreed with the Governor's priorities.
"It was appropriate that the Governor focused his State of
the State Address on the budget because clearly until we get the budget
resolved we shouldn't be working on anything else."
Schwarzenegger pointed to public doubt that California
could be governed at all, and idea which he attributed to the damage done by
the ideological split between Republicans and Democrats. Stpoong short of
predicting doom, he said that the state could be governed successfully if the
two parties could work together.
Assemblyman Smyth agreed that California's
mess could be worked out, but that changes and reforms are needed.
"I certainly don't think that it's ungovernable," he said.
"However, I think that we do have to put some changes and reforms in place to
make it more palatable."
Smyth went on to say that both parties are showing strong
signs of working together currently.
"Recently there's been more coming together by Republican
and Democrat leaders to really grind this out because nobody one wants to go
off the ‘fiscal cliff.'"
With no magic answer forthcoming, Smyth says that he will
continue to engage the Democrats and those in his own party to find a solution
to the deficit problem.
Since being appointed as the Republican Caucus Chairman for
the Assembly, Smyth has seen his role in such discussions expand greatly.
"I tell you, it's very fluid, things are moving very quickly,"
he said. "It's really amazing how quickly things can change up here."
Here are some more reactions by our elected officials to the
Governor's Stats of the State Address:
(Full text of the Governor's 2009 State of the State
Address near the bottom of the page.)
State Senator George Runner
"The Governor mentioned the political catchphrase of
2008: 'change.' The change that California
needs to implement is to stop the ongoing cycle of overspending taxpayers'
"California can beg, steal
or borrow $40 billion today, but if we continue to spend with abandon we will
be $20 billion in the hole tomorrow.
"Now is the time to live within ours means; we must adopt a spending
limit, hold the taxations of our citizens to a minimum and allow government to
provide only the most basic needs."
Los Angeles County
Supervisor Michael Antonovich
"The crisis our state faces in Sacramento
highlights the need for structural reform that includes a 2-year budget, a
part-time legislature, an end to legislation that costs more to pass than the
recipient receives - as well as an end to term limits.
A 2-year budget provides local government a consistent
funding stream for it to prepare its own financial agenda for public safety,
schools, libraries and parks. In addition, a part-time legislature would
enable citizen lawmakers to bring valuable professional experience to the
legislative process. Term limits have created instability to the process
and an inexperienced legislature that is unable to govern effectively.
Also, it makes no sense for the State Legislature to spend
$500,000 just to pass a bill allocating $100,000 for a library or municipal
program when local government could use the entire $500,000 and pay directly
for these types of services."
Full text of the Governor's 2009 State of the State
Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much,
Lieutenant Governor Garamendi, for the nice introduction. Chief Justice George,
President Pro-tem Steinberg, Speaker Bass, Senate Republican Leader Cogdill,
Assembly Republican Leader Villines, members of the legislature, ladies and
First of all, I want to congratulate the four that have been
responsible for creating, really, the Martin Luther King holiday. So I want to
say thank you because Martin Luther King has been a great hero who has given
his life for justice and for equality and has been a great inspiration not only
to Americans but to people all over the world. So congratulations to all of
them. Let's give them a hand, again, for the great work that they have done.
I also want to take this opportunity to just thank a few
people, because all this hard work is not done just by me or the Horseshoe,
there are a lot of people involved. First of all I want to say thank you very
much to my wife and the First Lady of California for her extraordinary work on
the Women's Conference or on promoting earned income tax credit or the
volunteers, California Volunteers, or the Hall of Fame or the California
Museum and the list goes on and on
and on. Let's give her a great hand for the great work that she is doing.
Then I also want to take this opportunity to say thank you
to my staff that has been working so tirelessly, not only during the day but
sometimes at night and on the weekends and so on and especially also my Chief
of Staff Susan Kennedy. Thank you very much for all the great work that all of
you are doing. Thank you. (Applause)
And I also want to say thank you to the staffs of the
legislature, because we are not by ourselves down there; you guys, you have
terrific staff, hardworking staff that come down there and work with us also
again many hours during days, nights and weekends, so we want to say thank you
also to them for all of that. (Applause)
Now, we meet in times of great hope for our nation, although
we hear the drumbeat of news about bailouts, bankruptcies and Ponzi schemes,
the nation with great anticipation is also awaiting the inauguration of a new
president. Our nation should be proud of President-elect Obama's election and what
it says to the world about American openness and renewal.
You know, President Reagan used to tell about a letter that
he got from a man who said that you can go and live in Turkey
but you can't become a Turk. You can go and live in Japan
but you can't become Japanese. And he went through various different countries
like that but the man said anyone from any corner of the world can come to America
and become an American. (Applause)
I know that we know that any American child now also, no
matter what corner of the world his father or mother comes from, can even
become president of the United States. What a wonderful national story for us.
This nation rightfully feels the hope of change.
Californians, of course, desire change here in their own
state as well. Yet they have doubts, if that is possible, because for months in
the face of a crisis we have been unable to reach agreement on the largest
budget deficit in our history. We are in our third special session and we have
declared a fiscal emergency and every day that goes by makes the budget problem
that much harder to solve.
As a result of all of this, California,
the eighth largest economy in the world, faces insolvency within weeks. The
legislature is currently in the midst of serious and good faith negotiations to
solve this crisis, negotiations that are being conducted in the knowledge that
we have no alternative but to find agreement.
The importance of the negotiations' success goes far beyond
the economic and human impact. People are asking if California
is governable. They wonder about the need of a Constitutional convention. They
don't understand how we could have let political dysfunction paralyze our state
for so long. In recent years they have seen more gridlock in Sacramento
than on our roads, if that is possible.
I will not give the traditional state of the state address
here today because the reality is that our state is incapacitated until we
solve the budget crisis. The truth is that California
is in a state of emergency.
Addressing this emergency is the first and most important
and greatest thing that we must do for the people of California.
The $42 billion deficit is a rock upon our chest and we cannot breathe until we
get it off. It doesn't make any sense for me to talk here today and stand in
front of you and talk about education or infrastructure or water or health care
reform and all of those things, when we have this huge budget deficit. I will
talk about my vision for all of those things and much more as soon as we get
the budget done. So no, I did not come here to deliver the normal list of
accomplishments and proposals. I came just simply to encourage this body to
continue the hard work that you are doing behind closed doors. I know we're
going to get it done.
There is a context, of course and a history to the
negotiations that are underway. It is not that California
is ungovernable; it is that for too long we have been split by ideology.
Conan's sword could not have cleaved our political system in two as cleanly as
our own political parties have done. Over time ours has become a system where
rigid ideology has been rewarded and pragmatic compromise has been punished.
And where has this led us? I think you would agree that in recent years California's
legislature has been engaged sometimes in civil war. Meanwhile, the needs of
the people became secondary. Our citizens do not believe that we in government
are in touch with their needs.
Now, these needs are not unreasonable, may I remind you. At
the end of the day most people do not require a great deal from their
government. They expect just simply the fundamentals. They want to live in
safety, they want good education for their children, they want jobs, they want
to breathe clean air, they want water when they turn on the faucet, they want
electricity when they turn on the switch and they want those things delivered
efficiently and economically.
One of the reasonable expectations that the public has of
government is that it will produce a sound and balanced budget. That is what
the legislative leaders are struggling to do right now. There is no course left
for us but this; to work together, to sacrifice together and to think of the
common good and not our individual good.
Now, of course no one wants to take money from our gang‑fighting
programs or from Medi‑Cal or from education. Of course not. No one wants
to pay more taxes or fees. But each of us has to give up something, because our
country is in an economic crisis and our state simply doesn't have the money.
In December we even had to suspend funding that affects
2,000 plus infrastructure projects that were already underway. So now the
bulldozers are silent. The nail guns are still. The cement trucks are
parked. This disruption has stopped work on levees and housing and schools and
roads, on everything. It has thrown thousands and thousands of people out of
work at a time when our unemployment rate is rising and when people really need
the jobs. How could we have let something like this happen?
I know that everyone in this room wants to hear again the
sound of construction. No one wants unemployment checks replacing paychecks. So
I'm encouraged that meaningful negotiations are underway. And as
difficult as the budget will be, good things can come out of it. Because in
spite of the budget crisis, when we have worked together in the past, we have
passed measures, extraordinary measures that move the state and even the
When a budget agreement is reached, when some of the raw
emotions have passed, I will send the legislators the package of legislative
goals and proposals that the Governor traditionally sends. These proposals are
sitting on my desk right now.
And let me tell you, I have big plans for this state. They
include action on the economy, on water, the environment, education and
healthcare reform, government efficiency and reform, job creation and the list
goes on and on.
But our first order of business is to solve the budget
crisis. And talking about budget, I have a great idea going forward. As you
know, for the last 20 years of budgeting only four budgets have been on time.
So if you don't mind, let me just make a little suggestion. We should make a
commitment that the legislators and the Governor too, lose per diem expenses
and our paychecks for every day that the budget goes past the constitutional
deadline which is June 15th. I mean, you have to admit this is a brilliant
idea and look at the happy faces I see now. I love that.
I mean, if you call a taxi and the taxi doesn't show up, you
don't have to pay the driver. So if the people's work doesn't get done, I
think the people's representatives shouldn't get paid either. That is common
sense in the real world.
And, of course, I will send you some other reforms as well.
I thought that this line would get a great applause in this hall but I
understand why not.
Let me close by saying something about the fires of 2008. At
one point I got a phone call that we had 875 wildfires burning all at the same
time. I said to myself, how could we deal with this? The next morning I
got another phone call: Governor, there are now 2014 fires burning all at
the same time, the largest number on record. Imagine, 2000 plus fires. What a
huge challenge. But every one of those fires was put out. And you know
why? Because we have the best trained and the most selfless and the
toughest firefighters in the nation. Let's give them a big hand. (Applause)
Thirteen of whom lost their lives. They gave their lives for
this state. Think about that. They gave their lives for this state.
Ladies and gentlemen, the courageous example of those
firefighters should not be lost in us. In our own way we too must show courage
in serving the public.
Ladies and gentlemen, let this be the year of political
courage. Let us be courageous for the people. Let us be courageous for the
common good of California. Let us
resolve the budget crisis so that we can get on with the people's work.
Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause)