Revving up his campaign to reclaim the political initiative in California, Governor Schwarzenegger addressed a bipartisan crowd of 1,000 people at the Orange County Forum on September 26.
In his prepared remarks, he urged the crowd to support his four reform measures on the November 8 special election, Propositions 74 through 77. He then detailed why Prop. 76, the Budget Reform initiative, was deserving of support, specifically countering the false claims made by the union-sponsored attack ads. He asserted that two-thirds of the governors in America have similar powers to reduce spending in line with revenue if the legislature refuses to act.
Both his delivery and its reception were fine, all-in-all, a workmanlike job.
Then came the questions.
With the teleprompter off and no media filters between Californians and their governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger showed why he is a force of nature in the Golden State. He breathed passion – passion for California and passion for the job he is determined to see through to its conclusion, regardless of the consequences.
The first question dealt with education reform and where do we go after passage of Prop. 74, the Teacher Tenure initiative. Responding, the Governor quickly warmed to the topic. Speaking of government employee unions he said, “Since when was government set up to help themselves rather than the people?” He then cited the fact that $300 million per year of education funding is wasted so government union employees can mow school lawns and maintain school buildings rather than contracting out such services to open bidding so that the tax money can be spent in the classroom.
Becoming more animated as he spoke about government unions, Schwarzenegger said that lawmakers of both parties had come to him privately and acknowledged the problems facing California, agreeing that something had to be done. But, he said, they, “…went to the union bosses to ask for permission. They said, ‘No, don’t do it, we can crush him.’” Rather than compromise, he said, the government unions are determined to spend over $100 million in false attack ads to keep their power in California and maintain the status quo.
Then, he said what most politicians think, but few dare to say, “The reason why they are pushing us to spend more is that the union bosses’ dream is to force tax increases so they can then increase their benefits.”
This is the crux of the issue and this is why every public employee union in the nation is rallying to oppose Prop. 75, the Paycheck Protection initiative. As Benjamin Franklin said on the dangers of a salaried bureaucracy in 1787 in a speech delivered during the Constitutional Convention, “Sir, there are two passions which have a powerful influence in the affairs of men. These are ambition and avarice; the love of power and the love of money. Separately, each of these has great force in prompting men to action; but, when united in view of the same object, they have, in many minds, the most violent effects.”
Californians only have to wait a few minutes after turning on their televisions these days to see such “violent effects” being done to the truth in service of the government union agenda of more pay, more benefits, and less accountability.
The Governor closed his remarks by challenging the audience, saying, “Ask yourself, are you happy with the way things are right now? If yes, then vote no on the reform initiatives.” For everyone else, the Governor urged them to action, asking them to support his efforts using the same grassroots techniques that pushed the recall over the top in 2003. Calling his reform package a “sequel” to the 2003 recall election, Schwarzenegger said, “The recall just changed the governor, but it didn’t change the system that brought us this mess.” It is now time to change the system.
The crowd rose to its feet in enthusiastic applause.
The election is six weeks away.