- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 18, 2003

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said yesterday that he wants the state to ease its budget woes by borrowing up to $15 billion through a bond issue.

The new Republican governor said he wants the Legislature — which was to enter a special session later in the day — to bring the question before voters by putting it on the March ballot.

In his first news conference since taking office Monday, Mr. Schwarzenegger also said he wants lawmakers to offer voters a state spending limit that would “never again to allow politicians to overspend” and a reform package that will “allow sunshine into the darkest corner of state government.”

“Write and call your legislators and let them know that you want action, and you want action now,” he told voters.

He said lawmakers also should find an additional $11 billion in savings in the workers’ compensation system and find a way to compensate local governments for the approximately $4 billion they lost when he rolled back a tripling of the vehicle license fee.

Repealing the unpopular car-tax increase was Mr. Schwarzenegger’s first move after he was sworn in Monday. He also called lawmakers into the special session to deal with the budget, workers’ compensation and a new law allowing illegal immigrants to obtain drivers’ licenses, which the governor opposes.

Political observers agree that keeping his pledge to fix the state’s beleaguered economy will be a formidable task for the political newcomer, who faces a budget deficit he estimates at more than $24 billion and a business climate he has cast as the nation’s worst.

Despite his overwhelming win in the Oct. 7 recall election that ousted Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, Mr. Schwarzenegger also faces a Democrat-dominated Legislature that may not grant his wishes.

“He’s got a tough challenge on his hands,” said former Republican Gov. George Deukmejian, who attended Mr. Schwarzenegger’s swearing-in ceremony. “I don’t envy him.”

With his wife, Maria Shriver, holding a Bible, Mr. Schwarzenegger, 56, took the oath of office from California’s chief justice in a short ceremony on the steps of the state Capitol.

The ceremony was devoid of much of the usual inaugural pageantry. Democratic bitterness over the recall vote and the state’s financial troubles prompted the Austrian-born bodybuilder turned actor to push for a more low-key ceremony.

In addition to his actions on the car tax Monday, Mr. Schwarzenegger suspended implementation of new state regulations and called for a review of all regulations adopted, amended or repealed during Mr. Davis’ administration.

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