Schwarzenegger's final state address: morning in California?
Historic deficits and a gridlocked legislature won't stop California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger from trying to salvage his legacy in his last year in office. The governor is expected to lay out an ambitious agenda for 2010 in his State of the State address Wednesday.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to swing for the fences in his final State of the State address Wednesday, even reportedly hiring the speechwriter who wrote Ronald Reagan’s famous “It’s morning in America” address.Skip to next paragraph
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The governor took office in 2003 promising to end state dysfunction and “crazy deficit spending," and is now entering his final year with a gridlocked government and the biggest state deficit in US history.
But he isn’t going to slink away quietly in his “lame duck” year.
Governor Schwarzenegger is aiming high, analysts say, with a 2010 agenda that includes structural changes – ideas to alter the state’s long-term tax structure, create a stronger “rainy day” reserve, and push for a ballot measure that would help elect officials more willing to compromise – as well as a laundry list of infrastructure, environmental, and education projects.
“Schwarzenegger is very concerned about his legacy, which has been scaled down considerably from his early promises. But he wants to salvage at least some items that are consonant with what he has talked about,” says Barbara O’Connor, director of the Institute for Study of Politics and Media at California State University in Sacramento.
Whether he can actually deliver – with recalcitrant lawmakers and record deficits – is another matter. Schwarzenegger’s forthcoming budget faces a $20 billion shortfall, on top of the $60 billion hole that has preoccupied the legislature and governor for the past two years.
The Republican governor might garner some “deliverables” with the help of federal funds, Ms. O’Connor says. “Washington clearly has a giant interest in helping California because it can’t create a national recovery without it,” she says. “It’s the state that’s ‘too big to fail,’ so we will get more cooperation from both parties because of that.”
Morning in California?
Schwarzenegger is reported to have hired speechwriter Landon Parvin, who wrote several speeches for Ronald Reagan, including his second inaugural address, famously dubbed “It’s morning in America” for its focus on renewal. Mr. Parvin also wrote Schwarzenegger’s acceptance speech on winning the recall election in 2003 and thus is well suited to rhetorically bookend his governorship.
“Schwarzenegger will be out to convince voters and legislators alike that maybe it is morning in California, or otherwise let’s just turn off the lights and go home,” says O’Connor.
But other national analysts are skeptical about whether the “Gubernator” can pull it off.