Governor Jerry Brown was sworn in as Governor of California at 11 am this morning.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger flew into the sunset after 7 years in office.
His 33% approval rating matched that of his predecessor, the recalled Governor Gray Davis.
Davis was a failure. He used up his goodwill when the lights went out in California.
He lost his office when the state budget tanked and he raised taxes, over and over again. The final straw was doubling the car tax.
By the end of his term in office he had forgotten what got him elected – the public desire to solve the state’s budget problems.
We can talk about all the good he accomplished, but ultimately he failed, just as Gray Davis. Many of the problems were not of his making, but he was hired by the people of California to fix them.
Instead, his legacy includes the great University of California in decline, furloughs, federal judges effectively running the prisons, abandonment of the 20:1 ratio in schools, layoffs of public employees after increasing the state payroll, infrastructure deteriorating, businesses and Californians leaving the state, the lowest bond rating of any state, and tying Michigan at 12.4% for the second highest unemployment rate in America. Even green businesses are leaving the state.
He also worsened the image of the Republican Party in California.
His initial campaign featured vows to tear up the state’s credit card, roll back the car tax increase, not to further tax the over-taxed Californians, and to encourage business to stay or move to California.
He rolled back the car tax increase, but committed a fatal budgetary mistake. He convinced California voters, as a one-time measure, to pass a $15 billion bond to pay the $15 billion step deficit. The legislature, of course, promptly renewed its practice of pasting over with smoke and mirrors deficit spending. It’s now up to $25-28 billion.
He signed off on those budgets.
He raised taxes two years ago by the largest amount of any state tax increase.
The voters would have approved any of his proposals the first couple of years, but he held off on structural reform until the honeymoon passed. He was too busy basking in his fame.
He tried to keep business in California, but the exodus continues dues to California’s high taxes and bureaucracy.
He achieved workers comp reform, but that wasn’t enough.
Some of his antics were funny. Since the state forbade smoking in public buildings, he put a large tent on the lawn of the Capitol, and invited guests to smoke cigars with him.
Some of his acts verged on rank hypocrisy. He got the state to pass the Global Warming Solutions Act to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions, but flies a private jet back and forth to Sacramento, often daily.
Yesterday he commuted the sentence of a gangbanger who knifed two persons at a fraternity party at San Diego State while an accomplish killed another guest. The favored prisoner is the son of the former Assembly Speaker.
His dumbest idea was to sell state office buildings for a quick $1.2billion infusion into the state treasury, but which will cost the state many times tax in leases and maintenance over the next 20 years.
Success went to his head, followed by arrogance. He picked fights he shouldn’t have. He picked a fight with the California Nurses Association. He said they opposed him because they were “special interests … whose butts I always kick.”
The angels of mercy responded by continuously picketing him. They won; he lost.
He referred to the legislators as “girlie men.”
He often changed positions as the wind was blowing.
He failed when he stopped manning up.