Total Recall

Published January 1, 2006

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was elected during a Wild West-style recall election of former governor Gray Davis (D) in October 2003. With his popularity in the early stages of his governorship in the 60 percent range, Schwarzenegger planned a “sequel” of a “Year of Reform” to fix what he termed a “broken system” controlled by union bosses who protected incompetent teachers and generated huge budget deficits.

“We need to reform a government that no longer listens to the people,” Schwarzenegger said in a televised speech from his office last June. “Without reform, we are destined to relive the past–$2 billion deficits, higher car taxes, and the threat of bankruptcy.”

During the most recent fiscal year, Schwarzenegger, battling such a budget deficit, was still able to increase K-12 public school funding by $3 billion, at a time when most public services were being pared back. However, the teacher unions accused him of reneging on a commitment to increase K-12 funding by an additional $2 billion and ran ads even before the special-election campaign accusing him of having “reduced” public school funding by that amount.

— Alan Bonsteel