When you think of the past governors of California, you likely think about the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gray Davis. However, few people realize how important the role of the governor was to California. The role of the governor involves balancing the demands of industry with environmental stewardship. Here are a few facts about the past governors of California. You may be surprised to know that they all played an important role in bringing the state into the 21st century.
While California’s current governor, Jerry Brown, is a political veteran, the polar opposite is the state’s former governor, Gray Davis. As a former state controller, lieutenant governor, and assemblyman, Davis has enjoyed a long and distinguished political career. His tenure in the office drew headlines and prompted the state to consider recalling him.
When California voters chose to recall Gov. Gray Davis, 55 percent of voters opted to recall him. Another 3.7 million voters wished to replace him with actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. While voting on the recall, the voters rejected two proposals, Propositions 53 and 54. Proposition 53 asked voters to set aside money for state infrastructure, while Proposition 54 prohibited the state from using race to classify people.
As a former state governor, Gray Davis shared a unique perspective on leading the state through a crisis and recall election. He compared leading a state through a crisis to running a newsroom. As a result, he was removed from office in 2003. Though Davis is a familiar face, you may not know much about his background. But now you can learn more about California’s past governors by reading these fascinating profiles.
As California’s first Democratic governor since the late 1960s, Davis took a stance on education. His legislation for an academic performance index and new education accountability program led to scores climbing four years in a row. He also stood up for the environment, protecting California’s air and water and reviving the state’s relationship with its biggest trading partner, Mexico. He led California’s economy to become the fifth largest in the world, signed laws to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and reformed health care organizations, including HMOs.
Although he’s the current governor, there are many things you shouldn’t know about California’s past governors. The state experienced rolling blackouts and a devastating economic recession in the middle of his tenure. Meanwhile, his first budget surplus turned into a $35 billion deficit, and the vehicle license fee unexpectedly doubled. The new governor’s stance on state finances differs from that of Davis.
When elected governor of California in 2005, Arnold Schwarzenegger promised to fix California’s crumbling finances. He presented a hodgepodge of measures, all but one dealing with the state budget. The rest dealt with educational and public works issues, and even made it harder for unions to use dues money for political purposes. After a year of fighting nurses, he only had a 36 percent approval rating and 55 percent of registered voters didn’t want to vote for him.
But Schwarzenegger’s success as governor wasn’t all bad. He had the sound judgment to heed the call for climate change reform and cut workers’ compensation costs. He also fought off the right-wing Republican campaign to repeal environmental reforms and expand the minimum wage. And he wasn’t afraid to take on the challenges of healthcare reform.
One thing that most people don’t know about the former governor is that he has supported a variety of causes over the years. He has donated millions to causes like after-school all-stars in Los Angeles and the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. He has also been an outspoken critic of Donald Trump, but he has publicly stated his views on climate change.
In addition to announcing himself as an enemy of special interests, Schwarzenegger was also known for delivering 100% of the California Chamber of Commerce’s legislative wish list. High-profile politicians often indulge in self-esteem and have no problem bragging to people in the media and on television. But Schwarzenegger took it too far. He was treated like a movie star by out-of-state reporters and TV hosts.
During his tenure as California’s governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger tipped the scales on climate change, lowering the state’s collective carbon footprint and demonstrating that saving the planet is easier than getting the state back to the pre-recession state. That is an incredible feat in and of itself. But let’s focus on the positive: In 2005, Schwarzenegger was the savior of California. With the help of a new budget, California will be debt-free by 2050.