To a number of us, this is a first and hence a solemn and momentous occasion,
and yet, on the broad page of state and national history, what is taking place
here is almost commonplace routine. We are participating in the orderly
transfer of administrative authority by direction of the people. And this is
the simple magic which makes a commonplace routine a near miracle to many of
the world's inhabitants: the continuing fact that the people, by democratic
process, can delegate this power, yet retain custody of it. |
Perhaps you and I have lived with this miracle too long to be properly
appreciative. Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation
away from extinction, It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and
defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people.
Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.
Knowing this, it is hard to explain those who even today would question the
people's capacity for self-rule. Will they answer this: if no one among us is
capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern
someone else? Using the temporary authority granted by the people, an
increasing number lately have sought to control the means of production, as if
this could be done without eventually controlling those who produce. Always
this is explained as necessary to the people's welfare. But, "The deterioration
of every government begins with the decay of the principle upon which it was
founded" [Montesquieu]. This is as true today as it was when it was written in
Government is the people's business, and every man, woman and child becomes a
shareholder with the first penny of tax paid. With all the profound wording of
the Constitution, probably the most meaningful words are the first three: "We,
the People." Those of us here today who have been elected to constitutional
office or legislative position are in that three-word phrase. We are of the
people, chosen by them to see that no permanent structure of government ever
encroaches on freedom or assumes a power beyond that freely granted by the
people. We stand between the taxpayer and the tax spender.
It is inconceivable to me that anyone could accept this delegated authority
without asking God's help. I pray that we who legislate and administer will be
granted wisdom and strength beyond our own limited power; that with Divine
guidance we can avoid easy expedients, as we work to build a state where
liberty under law and justice can triumph, where compassion can govern, and
wherein the people can participate and prosper because of their government and
not in spite of it.
The path we will chart is not an easy one. It demands much of those chosen to
govern, but also from those who did the choosing. And let there be no mistake
about this: We have come to a crossroads a time of decision and the path we
follow turns away from any idea that government and those who serve it are
omnipotent. It is a path impossible to follow unless we have faith in the
collective wisdom and genius of the people. Along this path government will
lead but not rule, listen but not lecture. It is the path of a Creative
A number of problems were discussed during the campaign, and I see no reason to
change the subject now. Campaign oratory on the issues of crime, pollution of
air and water, conservation, welfare, and expanded educational facilities does
not mean the issues will go away because the campaign has ended. Problems
remain to be solved and they challenge all of us. Government will lead, of
course, but the answer must come from all of you.
We will make specific proposals and we will solicit other ideas. In the area of
crime, where we have double our proportionate share, we will propose
legislation to give back to local communities the right to pass and enforce
ordinances which will enable the police to more adequately protect these
communities. Legislation already drafted will be submitted, calling upon the
Legislature clearly to state in the future whether newly-adopted laws are
intended to preempt the right of local governments to legislate in the same
field. Hopefully, this will free judges from having to guess the intent of
those who passed the legislation in the first place.
At the same time, I pledge my support and fullest effort to a plan which will
remove from politics, once and for all, the appointment of judges . . . not
that I believe I'll be overburdened with making judicial appointments in the
Just as we assume a responsibility to guard our young people up to a certain
age from the possible harmful effects of alcohol and tobacco, so do I believe
we have a right and a responsibility to protect them from the even more harmful
effects of exposure to smut and pornography. We can and must frame legislation
that will accomplish this purpose without endangering freedom of speech and the
When fiscally feasible, we hope to create a California crime technological
foundation utilizing both public and private resources in a major effort to
employ the most scientific techniques to control crime. At such a time, we
should explore the idea of a state police academy to assure that police from
even the smallest communities can have the most advanced training. We lead the
nation in many things; we are going to stop leading in crime. Californians
should be able to walk our streets safely day or night. The law abiding are
entitled to at least as much protection as the law-breakers.
While on the subject of crime . . . those with a grievance can seek redress in
the courts or legislature, but not in the streets. Lawlessness by the mob, as
with the individual, will not be tolerated. We will act firmly and quickly to
put down riot or insurrection wherever and whenever the situation requires.
Welfare is another of our major problems. We are a humane and generous people
and we accept without reservation our obligation to help the aged, disabled,
and those unfortunates who, through no fault of their own, must depend on their
fellow man. But we are not going to perpetuate poverty by substituting a
permanent dole for a paycheck. There is no humanity or charity in destroying
self-reliance, dignity, and self-respect ... the very substance of moral fiber.
We seek reforms that will, wherever possible, change relief check to paycheck.
Spencer Williams, Administrator of Health and Welfare, is assessing the amount
of work that could be done in public installations by welfare recipients. This
is not being done in any punitive sense, but as a beginning step in
rehabilitation to give the individual the self-respect that goes with
performing a useful service.
But this is not the ultimate answer. Only private industry in the last analysis
can provide jobs with a future. Lieutenant Governor Robert Finch will be
liaison between government and the private sector in an all-out program of job
training and education leading to real employment.
A truly great citizen of our state and a fine American, Mr. H.C. McClellan,
has agreed to institute a statewide program patterned after the one he directed
so successfully in the "curfew area" of Los Angeles. There, in the year and a
half since the tragic riots, fully half of the unemployed have been channeled
into productive jobs in private industry, and more than 2,600 businesses are
involved. Mr. McClellan will be serving without pay and the entire statewide
program will be privately financed. While it will be directed at all who lack
opportunity, it offers hope especially to those minorities who have a
disproportionate share of poverty and unemployment.
In the whole area of welfare, everything will be done to reduce administrative
overhead, cut red tape, and return control as much as possible to the county
level. And the goal will be investment in, and salvage of, human beings.
This Administration will cooperate with the State Superintendent of Public
Instruction in his expressed desires to return more control of curriculum and
selection of textbooks to local school districts. We will support his efforts
to make recruitment of out-of-state teachers less difficult.
In the subject of education... hundreds of thousands of young men and women
will receive an education in our state colleges and universities. We are proud
of our ability to provide this opportunity for our youth and we believe it is
no denial of academic freedom to provide this education within a framework of
reasonable rules and regulations. Nor is it a violation of individual rights to
require obedience to these rules and regulations or to insist that those
unwilling to abide by them should get their education elsewhere.
It does not constitute political interference with intellectual freedom for the
taxpaying citizens who support the college and university systems to ask that,
in addition to teaching, they build character on accepted moral and ethical
Just as a man is entitled to a voice in government, so he should certainly have
that right in the very personal matter of earning a living. I have always
supported the principle of the union shop, even though that includes a certain
amount of compulsion with regard to union membership. For that reason it seems
to me that government must accept a responsibility for safeguarding each union
member's democratic rights within his union. For that reason we will submit
legislative proposals to guarantee each union member a secret ballot in his
union on policy matters and the use of union dues.
There is also need for a mediation service in labor management disputes not
covered by existing law. There are improvements to be made in workmen's
compensation in death benefits and benefits to the permanently disabled. At the
same time, a tightening of procedures is needed to free business from some
A close liaison with our congressional representatives in Washington, both
Democratic and Republican, is needed so that we can help bring about beneficial
changes in Social Security, secure less restrictive controls on federal grants,
and work for a tax retention plan that will keep some of our federal taxes here
for our use with no strings attached. We should strive also to get tax credits
for our people to help defray the cost of sending their children to college.
We will support a bipartisan effort to lift the archaic 160- acre limitation
imposed by the federal government on irrigated farms. Restrictive labor
policies should never again be the cause of crops rotting in the fields for
lack of harvesters.
Here in our own Capitol, we will seek solutions to the problems of unrealistic
taxes which threaten economic ruin to our biggest industry. We will work with
the farmer as we will with business, industry, and labor to provide a better
business climate so that they may prosper and we all may prosper.
There are other problems and possible problems facing us. one such is now
pending before the United States Supreme Court. I believe it would be
inappropriate to discuss that matter now. We will, however, be prepared with
remedial legislation we devoutly hope will be satisfactory to all of our
citizens if court rulings make this necessary.
This is only a partial accounting of our problems and our dreams for the
future. California, with its climate, its resources, and its wealth of young,
aggressive, talented people, must never take second place. We can provide jobs
for all our people who will work, and we can have honest government at a price
we can afford. Indeed, unless we accomplish this, our problems will go
unsolved, our dreams unfulfilled and we will know the taste of ashes.
I have put off until last what is by no means least among our problems. Our
fiscal situation has a sorry similarity to the situation of a jetliner out over
the North Atlantic, Paris-bound. The pilot announced he had news some good,
some bad and he would give the bad news first. They had lost radio contact;
their compass and altimeter were not working; they didn't know their altitude,
direction or where they were headed. Then he gave the good news they had a
100-mile-an-hour tail-wind and they were ahead of schedule.
Our fiscal year began July 1st and will end on the coming June 30th six months
from now. The present budget for this twelve-month period is $4.6 billion, an
all-time high for any of the fifty states. When this budget was presented, it
was admittedly in excess of the estimated tax revenues for the year. It was
adopted with the assurance that a change in bookkeeping procedures would solve
With half the year gone, and faced now with the job of planning next year's
budget, we have an estimate provided by the experienced personnel of the
Department of Finance. We have also an explanation of how a change in
bookkeeping could seemingly balance a budget that called for spending $400
million more than we would take in.
Very simply, it was just another one-time windfall a gimmick that solved
nothing but only postponed the day of reckoning. We are financing the
twelve-month spending with fifteen-month income. All the tax revenues for the
first quarter of next year July, August, and September will be used to finance
this year's expenses up to June 30th. And incidentally, even that isn't enough,
because we will still have a deficit of some $63 million.
Now, with the budget established at its present level, we are told that it, of
course, must be increased next year to meet the added problems of population
growth and inflation. But the magic of the changed bookkeeping is all used up.
We are back to only twelve months' income for twelve months' spending. Almost
automatically we are being advised of all the new and increased taxes which, if
adopted, will solve the problem. Curiously enough, another one-time windfall is
being urged. If we switch to withholding of personal income tax, we will
collect two years' taxes the first year and postpone our moment of truth
perhaps until everyone forgets we did not cause the problem we only inherited
it. Or maybe we are to stall, hoping a rich uncle will remember us in his will.
If we accept the present budget as absolutely necessary and add on projected
increases plus funding for property tax relief (which I believe is absolutely
essential and for which we are preparing a detailed and comprehensive program),
our deficit in the coming year would reach three-quarters of a billion
But Californians are already burdened with combined state and local taxes $113
per capita higher than the national average. Our property tax contributes to a
slump in the real estate and building trades industries and makes it well-nigh
impossible for many citizens to continue owning their own homes.
For many years now, you and I have been shushed like children and told there
are no simple answers to the complex problems which are beyond our
Well the truth is, there are simple answers they just are not easy ones. The
time has come for us to decide whether collectively we can afford everything
and anything we think of simply because we think of it. The time has come to
run a check to see if all the services government provides were in answer to
demands or were just goodies dreamed up for our supposed betterment. The time
has come to match outgo to income, instead of always doing it the other way
The cost of California's government is too high; it adversely affects our
business climate. We have a phenomenal growth with hundreds of thousands of
people joining us each year. Of course, the overall cost of government must go
up to provide necessary services for these newcomers, but growth should mean
increased prosperity and thus a lightening of the load each individual must
bear. If this isn't true, then you and I should be planning how we can put up a
fence along the Colorado River and seal our borders.
Well, we aren't going to do that. We are going to squeeze and cut and trim
until we reduce the cost of government. It won't be easy, nor will it be
pleasant, and it will involve every department of government, starting with the
Governor's office. I have already informed the legislature of the
reorganization we hope to effect with their help in the executive branch and I
have asked for their cooperation and support.
The new Director of Finance is in complete agreement that we turn to additional
sources of revenue only if it becomes clear that economies alone cannot balance
Disraeli said: "Man is not a creature of circumstances. Circumstances are the
creatures of men." you and I will shape our circumstances to fit our needs.
Let me reaffirm a promise made during the months of campaigning. I believe in
your right to know all the facts concerning the people's business. Independent
firms are making an audit of state finances. When it is completed, you will
have that audit. You will have all the information you need to make the
decisions which must be made. This is not just a problem for the
administration; it is a problem for all of us to solve together. I know that
you can face any prospect and do anything that has to be done as long as you
know the truth of what you are up against.
We will put our fiscal house in order. And as we do, we will build those things
we need to make our state a better place in which to live and we will enjoy
them more, knowing we can afford them and they are paid for.
If, in glancing aloft, some of you were puzzled by the small size of our state
flag... there is an explanation. That flag was carried into battle in Vietnam
by young men of California. Many will not be coming home. one did Sergeant
Robert Howell grievously wounded. He brought that flag back. I thought we would
be proud to have it fly over the Capitol today. It might even serve to put our
problems in better perspective. It might remind us of the need to give our sons
and daughters a cause to believe in and banners to follow.
If this is a dream, it is a good dream, worthy of our generation and worth
passing on to the next.
Let this day mark the beginning.
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source: The Ronald Reagan Homepage