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Schwarzenegger looks back on his seven years in Sacramento

Site path: Groups > LAFR Community > Blogs

State government was failing at every level. There was an electricity crisis, a water crisis, a prison crisis. Car taxes had tripled. State contracts were tainted by corruption.

Financial ruin loomed.

In the state's historic recall election, voters turned to Arnold Schwarzenegger, a movie star whose brand was blowing stuff up, flexing muscles and delivering goofy one-liners.

Seven years later, with Schwarzenegger's tenure in its final day, the state's schools are in poor shape, the public university system is losing its sheen, the federal courts have taken control of part of the prison system. The deficit keeps growing.

In a recent interview in his stately Capitol conference room, his "Conan the Barbarian" sword resting in a case behind him, the governor looked back. He defended his record but admitted to errors that were key to his inability to fulfill the promise of tearing up the state's credit card and "ending the crazy deficit spending."

One crucial misstep came in the first few months, he said. Instead of confronting voters with the pain of dealing with the deficit he had inherited, Schwarzenegger shied away, backing a ballot initiative to borrow $15 billion to paper over the accumulated budget problem.

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