May 4, 2004 - From the November, 2003 issue

Arnie Steinberg Offers An Agenda & Priorities For Governor Schwarzenegger's First 100 Days

As Arnold Schwarzenegger begins his term as governor of California, the challenges he faces are significant in scope and complexity. Schwarzenneger's first 100 days in office could facilitate the establishment of his agenda for the duration of his term. MIR is pleased to present this open letter to Governor Schwarzenegger from Arnold Steinberg, a political strategist and widely published writer on politics and the media, on key issues to address in the early days of the new governorship.

Dow 10000? Just a number, like the first 100 days. But perceptions matter. Media-hype will shape how people view your start-up. You'll get your first report card just before the Bush-bashing California Democrat primary. Yet, much of what needs to be done will take months, years, and even into a second term.

In your campaign, you previewed your first actions. To be credible, you must do, or try to do, the following: repeal the so-called car tax, repeal the illegal immigrant driver's law, and overhaul workers compensation. When you campaigned, you defined a natural disaster loophole for raising taxes. But your Republican base is unlikely to accept a major tax hike.

How do you restore citizen confidence? In part, this governor must be seen as authentic, not just another politician. That means keeping yours promises. Somehow, you must broaden governance beyond insiders and lobbyists. That means using your star power to expand your core group involve and more people in government. Uniquely, you can generate enthusiasm.

Let's quickly run down what else you can do. If not sooner, than later.

Expectations. You promised everyone a great job. Stop utopian hyperbole, and lower expectations so they can be met. Do it all with a happy face.

Campaign deficit. You should pay it off personally. You can raise plenty from others for ballot measures or other pet projects. As for your 2006 campaign, you should prepare a direct mail and internet operation to limit the impact of major donors.

State Budget. You need to impose a real hiring and spending freeze. The State Legislature gets low marks from the public. You need to keep it on the defensive as a captive of special interests. If legislators won't put a spending cap on the March ballot, then back one for November.

Garage sale. You should sell certain state lands and even some buildings to raise money for infrastructure.

Runaway production. You must oversee a major offensive to return television and radio production to California. This Hollywood action hero must show results in yours own backyard.

Growth. You need to exploit the rising economic curve by keeping expanding businesses here. You must get some big companies to expand, or even return to California. Show momentum.

Fires. It's too hard to change overall Federal aid formulas to give California more. Besides, representatives from other states would want their own goodies. Instead, disguise more Federal money as fire relief and prevention.

Health. The super market and MTA strikes show the primacy of the health issue. Set a national example. Deal with the co-payment. People who pay little or nothing for health care over-use it. There's no reason for government to pay for the health care of retired employees and their spouse.

Balloon payments. Consolidate state debt, but avoid a balloon payment. In order words, amortize it. If state revenue exceeds inflation plus population growth, use the balance for retiring debt. Try to lower interest rates by making them variable, but with possible rate hikes later, as the debt would be retired.

Race. You opposed Ward Connerly's Proposition 54 to prohibit state classification by race. Nonetheless, you should recognize the growing irrelevance of such racial. Use your bully pulpit and executive orders to de-emphasize race. You won't get far by rehabilitating Willie Brown. Try to force alliances with a new generation of leaders, including African-Americans and Latinos. Build them up.

California Corps. This should be a revitalized group of volunteers, mainly seniors, who mentor people who need help. It should not be a state program, but funded by private groups to match talent with need.

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Occupational licensure. You say Milton Friedman is yours hero. Prove it by starting a revolution. Call for radical change in the state's professional and occupational licensure. Make it easier for people to enter professions and occupations.

Car pools. Find a way to encourage car pools. The state rewards single-drivers at peak times by making the ride free. It will be unpopular, but you must ration freeways at rush times.

Drug laws. Only Richard Nixon could go to China. Only a Republican could redefine state law, so that prisons would serve mainly to house people who are a threat to society, not to themselves.

Education. Empower Dick Riordan to propose drastic reduction in state regulations. The testing madness is masking teacher incompetence. Teachers teach to test, not to think. Support real charter schools that are truly autonomous, meaning they can bypass unions. Stop blindly raising teacher pay and cutting classroom size without serious reform. Give principals more authority. Provide money and other incentives for good teachers. And, finally, improve their working conditions and let them teach. Back a measure for school choice to be phased in, within five years, unless certain standards are met.

Spending limits. Support an inflation-plus-population constitutional limit to state spending.

Subsidiarity. Start moving state functions down to lower levels of government. If they want to spend more locally, let them raise local taxes.

Infrastructure. Bonds at the state and local levels should be for capital projects and infrastructure, not spending.

Immigration. Right now, taxpayers subsidize employers who hire illegals. That's because they pay them less, and taxpayers make up the difference with government benefits. If you could work around Federal pre-emption! The state should tax an employer for each illegal immigrant hired. Use the funds to help pay for government services.

Unions. There are two worker classes, the real world for most people, and the pretend world of government employees. Half of union members are government workers. It's time for taxpayers to stop pay for retirement at middle age, and, during retirement, for health care benefits for former state employees and their spouses.

Outsourcing. Go the Reason Foundation and other experts to help retrench government. Contract out services to the private sector. This is the best way to go around the state's make-work bureaucracy.

Reapportionment. Back computer reapportionment that uses neutral criteria so that district lines are logical, and districts are competitive. An initiative on the November 04 ballot could redefine political reality for the 2006 elections.

Term limits. You cannot advocate longer term limits unless districts are competitive. Use competitive districts and longer term limits as two more reasons to oppose public funding of campaigns as welfare for politicians.

Partisanship. Use the rhetoric of bipartisanship or nonpartisanship. But make no mistake about it. Bill Lockyer and the others who want your job do not want you to succeed. The same with key Democrats in the State Legislature. That's why you must keep them on the defensive.

Populism. You must establish yourself early as a populist against special interests. That means you look for ideas more toward small business, than large corporations. You need a rationale that lets you take on sacred cows, like occupational licensure. Some of the items I've listed above are well beyond 100 days, or even beyond a first term. But you need to let people know early-on that it will not be government as usual.

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