ECONOMY -- January 6, 2010 at 7:16 PM ET
Schwarzenegger Seeks 'Federal Fairness' in Final State of the State
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the actor-turned-lawmaker who rode into office waving a broom with which to sweep California's capital clean, tried to salvage a troubled financial situation in his final State of the State address on Wednesday.
Facing a $20 billion budget deficit, the governor claimed California, which gets 78 cents back for every dollar it sends to Washington, is not getting its due from the federal government. "Texas gets 94 cents. Pennsylvania gets $1.07. Alaska, with all its oil, gets back $1.84 for every dollar. New Mexico gets $2.03. This should be more fair and equitable."
While he avoided using the word "bailout," the governor and several other state officials are looking to Washington for billions of dollars to help avoid more cuts to an already reeling state budget. "We are not looking for a federal bailout, just federal fairness."
He said the situation is about to get worse. "Now Congress is about to pile billions onto California with the new health care bill." The governor urged California's congressional delegation to vote against the bill, which he called "a trough of bribes, deals and loopholes," unless the package includes billions of dollars more for California. He said, "While I enthusiastically support health care reform, it is not reform to push more costs onto states that are already struggling while other states get sweetheart deals."
Over the years, Schwarzenegger has made many proposals to reform state government, pensions, the prison system and the tax structure, but most of his efforts have failed. Still he defended his attempts. "If I had hesitated to attempt something because it was too hard, I'd still be yodeling in Austria."
Although the governor said "the worst is over for the California economy," he also said the state's residents should brace for even more cuts to services. "It's cruel because it is forcing us to make a Sophie's choice among our obligations. Which child do we cut? The poor one? The sick one? The uneducated one? The one with special needs. That's cruel."
These are obviously tough times for the Golden State. Despite his continuing celebrity, Schwarzenegger's poll numbers have never been lower; only the state Legislature gets poorer ratings. Everyone agrees that effectively governing California is no picnic, still a slew of candidates is lining up to succeed the "Governator" next year, when he will hit his term limit.
With additional reporting by Joanne Elgart Jennings