“Our systems are at the breaking point now. We need more roads, more hospitals, more schools, more nurses, more teachers, more police, more fire, more water, more energy, more ports… more, more, more. But, we cannot be overwhelmed by this reality. We cannot freeze in the face of this future. We cannot bury our head in the sand and say, ‘If we don’t build it, they won’t come.'”
Arnold Schwarzenegger said this in his 2006 State of the State address. The speech was filled with aspirations to rebuild California. “I say build it!” was a common line throughout the speech.
“Our streets are congested. We need more roads. I say build it!”
“A quarter of a million more students will be attending our schools. To meet this need, our plan over the next decade proposes construction of more than 2,000 small schools, 40,000 classrooms and modernizing another 140,000. I say build it!”
“Higher education: California’s system of colleges and universities is an enormous asset that fuels our innovation economy. In the next 10 years, we must prepare for more than half a million new students. To meet the infrastructure needs of higher education, we need new classrooms, libraries and science labs in hundreds of new buildings on our campuses. I say build it!”
What happened to Schwarzenegger? His new budget plans to divert money from rebuilding roads and new public transportation lines to pay off our debt. Yes, we built more schools in Los Angeles. When I graduated from high school there were 5,000 students attending the school. Now there are less than 3,500. But at what cost? Twenty billion dollars meant for both renewing the old schools and building new ones only went toward constructing new schools, some of which cost 250 million dollars to build compared to others that cost only 20 million dollars. The 800 old schools were left untouched, some of which were recently found to have lead pipes for water fountains. Now Los Angeles Unified School District is requesting additional money.
In his 2006 speech, Schwarzenegger said, “In higher education, we need to reduce the burden on families who send children to our state universities. I propose we should eliminate the increase in tuition scheduled to take effect this fall.”
Two years later, what does Schwarzenegger do? He cuts the UC budget by 10 percent, forcing an additional fee hike. UC tuition will now be over $8,000 for in-state residents. When he came into office, tuition was $5,500 and that was after Governor Davis increased tuition by 30 percent during his last term.
Schwarzenegger once proposed universal health care for Californians – that proposal sunk faster than Bush’s approval ratings. Not only is our governor no longer focusing on health care, but he is cutting eligibility for MediCal. A single mother who makes over $8,500 dollars is no longer eligible for MediCal. Another proposed budget cut includes keeping federal money meant to supplement the cost of living for the elderly and instead using it to pay off the state debt. He also proposed creating a two-tiered health care system between legal immigrants and citizens, cutting legal immigrants’ health care benefits if they have been here less than five years.
In 2006 the governor said we could rebuild all of these things without raising taxes. Now he plans on taxing UC students an additional $490 and $276 for Cal State students. Instead of building roads, he is diverting the funds. To further supplement our debt, Schwarzenegger plans on increasing our state lottery games and hopes gambling addicts will pay off our debts. Despite all his rhetoric, he has failed to uphold his promises, and instead of building up California, Schwarzenegger built up walls around it. Instead of investing in our future, Schwarzenegger divested from our students. My fellow Californians and my fellow students, it’s time for action! There are 670,000 students in the UC and CSU systems. Together with whoever else wishes to support us, we can recall Governor Schwarzenegger. Whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican, we need a governor who will invest in our future instead of throwing it away. My fellow Californians, I say build it!