Schwarzenegger has big goals for his final year as governor

The Sacramento BeeJanuary 4, 2010 

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made it sound easy to fix California when he first ran for governor, but his last six years have proved otherwise.

He took office in 2003 on a promise to "end the crazy deficit spending" and change state government as we knew it.

As Schwarzenegger enters his final year in office, however, California faces massive fiscal problems, while advocates of government reform say a constitutional convention, not an ambitious chief executive, is the best cure for the state's woes.

"Schwarzenegger swept in on this wave of 'I'm going to clean office and be the reformer governor' rhetoric we haven't heard since Hiram Johnson," said Jessica Levinson, director of political reform at the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles. "In many ways, I think he has failed to deliver."

The Republican governor still believes he can finish the job he promised in his final year. He wants long-term changes to the state's tax structure to end wild budget swings. He hopes to create a stronger rainy-day reserve. He will advocate for a "top-two" primary ballot measure that theoretically would lead to elected officials more open to compromise.

Schwarzenegger will ask voters to pass an $11 billion water bond. And he is considering ways to reduce California pension benefits for new public employees, hoping to reduce the state's long-term obligations.

None of it will be easy.

Schwarzenegger will have to move his agenda through a divided Capitol focused on bridging a deficit topping $20 billion.

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