The State of the State 2006: A Republican offers his own text to Arnold

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has no shortage of speech writers on his staff.
But here’s a proposed text of the governor’s State of the State speech,
offered by a Republican familiar with Capitol politics.

My fellow Californians,

It has now been over two years since the historic Recall Election of 2003
when the voters signaled to all in government that they were not happy about
the direction of the state and they wanted change.

Since that time we have made some small steps in that direction, but frankly
I must report to you tonight that the State of the State remains virtually
unchanged and our future disturbingly uncertain.

We have reached a critical point in our state’s history, what FDR called our
“rendezvous with destiny”. The decisions we make this year will be will
chart our course for years to come.

While this has been said before, it has never been more true than today. We
are now entering the second half of the first decade of the 21st century,
and are no closer to solving the state’s pressing problems than we were
before the recall.

Structural deficits and bonded indebtedness have crippled our ability to
make critical infrastructure improvements. Past suspension of Prop 42
funding, passed by almost 70% of the voters in 2002, by the Legislature and
the Governor have severely crippled transportation investments.

Our schools and education system which were once the envy of the nation have
fallen into disrepair both physically and in the quality of education.

The state’s future pension obligations are unsustainable. Many California
cities and counties are already feeling the squeeze and the situation will
only get worse as more baby boomers opt for early retirement.

Our political system remains broken. There is no way to sugar coat that
fact. No amount of deceptive political ads or post election gloating will
change it.

The only winner during the special election was the status quo and those who
have a stake in preserving it.

While it is encouraging to hear some voices of reason in the Legislature who
seem to want to get on with the hard business of governing, there are also
other voices that seem drunk with power, ready to exact a price from their
legislative allies for defeating the reforms proposed in 2005 and also
seeking for revenge against those on the other side.

To the Democratic legislative majority and their allies in the public
employees unions, I would remind them not to misread the real meaning of the
last election. The voters are still hungry for reform and according to
recent polls, are not very approving of either the legislative or executive
branches of government.

Those who impede progress and defend the status quo will eventually pay a
price at the ballot box. That is not a threat, it is a reality.

In the 95 years since Hiram Johnson spoke in this chamber against the
stranglehold that the railroads had on the Legislature, we have traded the
dominance of one special interest for another, the public employees unions.

There is nothing inherently wrong with special interests. A state is a
collection of special interests each with a different point of view wanting
to be heard. Whether it is rural, urban, labor, management, ethnic or
demographic, all interests have a right to make their case before the
representatives of the people.

The danger lies when one special interest agenda consumes all other agendas
and demands that theirs become the prism that all others must pass through.
We have reached that point and in doing so have lost sight of the most
important interest of all–the collective interest.
When that happens, change is required.
So where do we go from here?

The Department of Finance has projected that by the year 2010 California
will have a population of almost 40 million citizens and by the middle of
the century close to 55 million.

What will be the quality of their roads and schools? Where will they live?
Where will they work and what new jobs will be created? Will we have enough
energy and water to meet their needs?

These are all questions that demand answers now. We cannot waste another
legislative session neglecting the state’s problems and mired in the quest
to gain political advantage.

There are no more easy answers or quick fixes. We have exhausted all those
options. There is nothing left to do but confront our problems and be honest
with our fellow Californians about what the cost will be.

The California that was created during the 50’s and 60’s by a generation
hardened by the Depression and forged in a World War, were committed to the
common good. What they built has been stressed to the breaking point.
We, their heirs, must now roll up our sleeves, put aside our differences,
and preserve the legacy we have been bequeathed.

The only question before us now is what will be our generation’s commitment
to restoring the California they built?

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