In a campaign commercial during his 2003 run for governor, in the midst of a historic and historically crazy recall campaign against Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger promised simple, decisive action once he took office. “Here’s my plan,” said the eventual governor. “Audit everything. Open the books. And then we end the crazy deficit spending.” Things didn’t exactly go that way over the next seven years for Gov. Schwarzenegger, with protracted budget battles in all but one year of his two terms and budget deficits that kept reaching and breaking records. As the ultimate testament to (and possible indictment of) his work, Gov. Schwarzenegger leaves office next week with the state staring down a potential $28 billion budget deficit and yet another debate over spending cuts or tax increases to close the gap. The governor promised to blow up boxes, to “kick the unions’ butts” and bring a level of bipartisan governing that had been largely absent in Sacramento. Even with the budget acrimony and the several years of a tough recession, did the iconic governor come close to achieving any of those goals? We look back at the legacy that Arnold Schwarzenegger leaves on California as he prepares to leave public service.
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