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November 17, 2003
Promises Kept, But Miles To Go Before He Sleeps

Arnold Schwarzenegger was sworn into office today after a historic recall election, and immediately kept a key campaign promise:

Newly inaugurated California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an order rolling back a 300 percent increase in state vehicle registration fees Monday, just hours after taking the oath of office. Executive Order No. 1 repealed the $4 billion increase in the "car tax," imposed earlier this year to help shrink a massive budget shortfall from $38 million to $8 million. Analysts believe the fee hike contributed heavily to his predecessor's defeat. Reversing the car tax was one of actor Schwarzenegger's leading campaign promises.

The revenue loss will complicate his goals of balancing the budget, but perhaps at this stage it is more important to keep promises and build trust with an electorate whose trust has been badly bruised the past few years. His first legislative target appears to be the enormous workers-compensation system, which is driving businesses out of California. In order to fix the budget without increasing tax rates, he will have to increase revenues, and the only way to do that without new taxes is to aggressively grow the economy. The new governor evoked the founding of the nation to describe what he intends to do in office:

But he also invoked both former President Ronald Reagan and the framers of the Constitution, who faced a deep crisis when they met in Philadelphia in 1787.

"The dream of a new nation was falling apart," Schwarzenegger said. "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."

But those delegates in Philadelphia produced what he called "the miracle of Philadelphia."

I hope he can deliver a Sacramento Miracle, because that's the level of expectation he's set now.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 17, 2003 6:36 PM

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