Low-Key State Of The State Expected

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, January 9, 2009

This year’s speech won’t be one of those upbeat, hopes and dreams kind of messages:

“Usually a state of the state is a laundry list of items that the governor wants and instead of a laundry list, the Governor’s going to be issuing a casualty list.” 

Jack Pitney is a Professor of Government at Claremont McKenna College.  He says Schwarzenegger has to prepare Californians for the inevitable cuts and possible tax hikes needed to soak up 40 billion dollars in red ink.  The format and timing of the event match the seriousness.  This year it’s at ten in the morning.  Dr. Barbara O’Connor is Director of the Institute for the Study of Media and Politics at Sacramento State University:

“It’s not a festive occasion.  Usually it’s accompanied by some kind of partying and it’ an evening event and they invite people in.  I think the tone is very different this year.  It’s more matter-of-fact.”

The speech is also later in the month than usual.  O’Connor thinks that’s because the Governor’s holding out hope he’ll reach a budget deal with lawmakers beforehand.  But either way, she says, Schwarzenegger needs to say something to make people feel better:

“The Governor has to assure Californians that the state is not going to go broke and in fact that there will be state income tax refunds and that they will get monthly checks and so there is a certain calming of the citizenry about the normal functions of the state continuing and I would suspect that that’s the first part of the speech.”

The Governor’s Press Secretary, Aaron McLear says the Governor’s still working on the speech, but the basic themes are obvious:

“I think that largely it’s going to be centered around how can we fix our budget, how can we get people back to work.”

The Governor and lawmakers are running out of time to reach a deal before the state runs out of cash.  The State Controller has warned that California may have to issue I-O-U’s next month instead of checks.