California Governor's Address of November 13, 2003
Mr. Chief Justice; Governor and Mrs. Davis; Governor and Mrs. Wilson; Governor and Mrs. Deukmejian; Governor Brown; legislative leadership; constitutional officers; my fellow Californians:
I am humbled, I am moved – and I am honored beyond words to be your governor.
To the thousands of you who came here today, I took this oath to serve you.
To others all across this state – Democrats, Republicans, Independents – it makes no difference. I took this oath to serve you.
To those who have no power, to those who have dropped out – too weary or disappointed with politics as usual – I took the oath to serve you. I say to everyone here today and to all Californians, I will not forget my oath and I will not forget you.
Let me first thank Gov. Davis and Mrs. Davis and their entire administration for a smooth transition. There's been a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation, and I thank you for that.
My fellow citizens: Today is a new day in California. I did not seek this office to do things the way they've always been done. What I care about is restoring your confidence in your government.
When I became a citizen 20 years ago, I had to take citizenship test. I had to learn about the history and the principles of our republic.
What I learned – and I've never forgotten – is sovereignty rests with the people, not the government.
In recent years, Californians have lost confidence. They've felt that the actions of their government did not represent the will of the people.
This election was not about replacing one man; it was not replacing one party. It was about changing the entire political climate of our state.
Everywhere I went during my campaign, I could feel the public hunger for our elected officials to work together, to work openly and to work for the greater good.
The election was the people's veto – for politics as usual.
With the eyes of the world upon us, we did the dramatic. Now we must put the rancor of the past behind us and do the extraordinary.
It's no secret I'm a newcomer to politics. I realize I was elected on faith and hope. And I feel a great responsibility – not to let the people down.
As soon as I go inside the Capitol behind me, I will sign my first order as governor.
I will sign Executive Order No. 1 – which will repeal the 300 percent increase in the car tax.
I will issue a proclamation convening a special session of the Legislature to address California's fiscal crisis.
I will issue a proclamation convening a special session to reform our workers' compensation system.
I will call on the Legislators to repeal SB 60 and I will work to reform government by bringing openness and full disclosure to public business.
I enter this office beholden to no one except you, my fellow citizens. I pledge my governorship to your interests, not to special interests.
So I've appointed to my Cabinet Republicans, Democrats and Independents - - because I want people to know that my administration is not about politics. It is about saving California.
The state of California is in crisis.
As I've said many times, we spent ourselves into the largest budget deficit in the nation.
We have the worst credit rating in the nation.
We have the highest workers' compensation costs in the nation.
Next year we will have the highest unemployment insurance costs in the nation.
And we have the worst business climate in the nation.
But even thought these problems are staggering, they do not even compare to what Californians have overcome in the past.
Our state has endured earthquakes, floods and fires. The latest fires have destroyed lives, homes, businesses, and devastated hundreds of thousands of acres of the land that we love.
On behalf of my fellow citizens, I salute all those who have served on the front lines of the battle. Firefighters, emergency workers, law enforcement officials, National Guard and thousands of volunteers. As we watched the firestorms raging, we saw bravery that never faltered and determination that never wavered in a fight that never flagged.
To the families of those who gave their lives and those who have lost their lives, your loss is ours. As Californians, we mourn together, we fight together, and we will rebuild together.
And just as California will come back from the fires, we will also come back from fiscal adversity.
I know there are some of you who say that the Legislature and I will never agree on solutions to our problems. But I've found in my life that people often respond in remarkable ways to remarkable challenges.
In the words of President Kennedy, "I am an idealist without illusions."
I know it will be hard to put aside years of partisan bitterness.
I know it will be hard to overcome the political habits of the past.
But for guidance, let's look back in history to a period I studied when I became a citizen. The summer of 1787. Delegates of the original 13 states were meeting in Philadelphia.
The dream of a new nation was falling apart. Events were spiraling downward. Divisions were deep. Merchant against farmer. Big states against small. North against South.
Our founding fathers knew that the fate of the union was in their hands, just as the fate of California is in our hands.
What happened in that summer of 1787 is that they put their differences aside – and produced the blueprint for our government; our Constitution. Their coming together has been called "the Miracle of Philadelphia."
Now, the members of the Legislation and I must bring about the "Miracle of Sacramento" – a miracle based on cooperation, good will, new ideas – and devotion to the long-term good of California.
When we face may look insurmountable. But I learned something from all those years of training and competing.
What I learned is that we are always stronger than we know. And California is like that, too.
We are stronger than we know.
There's a massive weight we must lift off our state.
Alone, I cannot lift it. But together, we can.
It's true; things may get harder before they get better. But I've never been afraid of the struggle. I've never been afraid of the fight and I have never been afraid of the hard work.
I will not rest until our fiscal house is in order.
I will not rest until California is a competitive job-creating machine.
I will not rest until the people of California come to see their government as a partner in their lives, not a roadblock to their dreams.
Today I ask all of you to join me in a new partnership for California.
One that is civil and respectful of our diverse population.
One that challenges each and every one of us to serve our state in a joyful, productive and creative way.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have an immigrant's optimism that what I have learned in citizen class is true: The system does work.
And I believe that with all of my heart.
I have big hopes for California. President Reagan spoke of America as "the shining city on the hill." I see California as the golden dream by the sea.
Perhaps some think this is fanciful or poetic, but to an immigrant like me, who, as a boy, saw Soviet tanks rolling through the streets of Austria, to someone like me who came here with absolutely nothing and gained absolutely everything, it is not fanciful to see this state as a golden dream.
For millions of people around the world, California has always glimmered with hope and glowed with opportunity. Millions of people around the world send their dreams to California with the hope their lives will follow.
My fellow citizens.
I have taken the oath to uphold the Constitution of California. Now, with your help and God's, I will also uphold the dream that is California.
Thank you very much.
God bless you, and may God bless California.
Thank you, thank you.