Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger delivered his annual State of the State address before a joint session of the California State Legislature today.
In the address, the Governor asked legislators to work with him to tackle some of California’s most pressing challenges including reforming the state budget system that has failed the people of the Golden State too many times.
He opened his address by thanking Lt. Governor Garramendi, his wife, Secretary George Shultz and Charlotte Schultz and Susan Kennedy, for her tireless work.
The Governor discussed healthcare, giving a personalized example of the failing healthcare system. The health care reform is critical to fixing the failing budget.
Schwarzenegger also spoke about the reasons the current budget challenge does not change California’s critical need for investments in infrastructure and education. He said the most needed education reforms are still possible.
On education, the Governor noted the number of high school students taking advanced math classes has increased 53% since 2003. Unfortunately, the dropout rate is between 15% to 30%, schools have 30% fewer teachers and half the number of counsellors as other schools in the U.S. To fix that, the governor wants to create another 100,000 teachers in the next ten years.
98 California school districts are out of compliance with the “No Child Left Behind Act,” which says that after five straight years of noncompliance, the State is required to take action or lose Federal funding.
After identifying districts that have consistently failed to educate children, the Governor said “I am announcing today, that California will be the first State to use it’s powers given to us under the ‘No Child Left Behind Act’ to turn these districts around.”
The Governor pledged to work with the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jack O’Connell, the teachers, administrators, parents and elected officials to make those districts models of reform. The Governor said “No more waiting. We must act on behalf of the children.”
On infrastructure, the Governor talked about the current problems with water and how solutions must be found to fix those problems now and into the future. He also talked about digital infrastructure needs and how the public and private sectors must work together.
To prevent Californians from being hit by the rollercoaster of budget changes that have become the norm, the Governor proposes the Budget Stabilization Act that will:
- Establish a Revenue Stabilization Fund to smooth out excess revenues during prosperous years and low revenues in lean years
- Provide the flexibility to reduce spending when necessary
- Require the legislature to reduce spending as soon as a deficit is projectedOn Thursday, the Governor will present his budget.