Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice, for once again administering the oath of office. Thank you, Justice Carlos Moreno. I couldn't be more proud of my first appointment to the California Supreme Court. And I know you are making the people of this state proud, as well.
Mr. Speaker, Mr. President Pro Tem, Lieutenant Governor Bustamante, Treasurer Angelides, Controller Westly, Secretary of State Shelley, Insurance Commissioner Garamendi, Superintendent of Public Instruction O'Connell, members of the Board of Equalization, members Chiang, Migden and Parrish, esteemed Members of the Legislature and distinguished guests. Please welcome the First Lady of California and the first lady in my life, Sharon Davis.
I'm also blessed by a loving family, many of whom are here today. I'll introduce them, and, when I'm done, I hope you'll welcome them. My brother, Barry, his wife, Caroline, and their family; my sister, Anne Pinkham, and her husband, Dick, and their family; my sister-in-law, Patti Patterson, her husband, Bill, and their family; my brother-in-law Don Ryer; and my brother-in-law Rick Ryer, his wife, Marietta, and their family. I regret that my mother, Doris Morell, could not be with us. She's always been my guiding light and inspiration. Unfortunately, she's home recovering from surgery, but she's here today in my heart and in my thoughts.
My fellow Californians, I'm honored to stand before you and Almighty God to take the oath of office as Governor of this, the greatest of these United States. I am humbled and inspired to be standing in the footsteps of giants like Hiram Johnson, Earl Warren, Ronald Reagan and Pat Brown.
But I know full well that the true greatness of this Golden State does not rest in government. It's in the workers and entrepreneurs who fuel our economy. The farmers and farmworkers who feed the world. The artists and performers who capture our imagination. The public school teachers who inspire and educate us.
Please welcome all five of this year's California teachers of the year – from Sacramento County, Virginia Avila; from Stanislaus County, Anne Marie Bergen; from San Diego County, Connie Baumgardt-Blackburn; from Santa Barbara County, Christopher Mullin; and from Ventura County, Tamara Thornell. Thank you all for your extraordinary commitment to our children and their future.
Finally, the true greatness of California lies in those who defend our safety and safeguard our liberty. We are honored by the presence here today of California's peace officers and firefighters. They are joined by members of the National Guard who've just returned from active duty in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan. Every one of these brave men and women put themselves in harm's way to keep us safe. I ask these police officers, these firefighters and these brave citizen-soldiers to stand so we can salute you.
Californians are idealistic and industrious, daring and decent, driven both by the ambition of their dreams and the compassion in their hearts. We are the sons and daughters of every nation on earth. Together, we represent the world's best hope for the future.
It will be a great honor for me to serve and lead our state for the next four years. But leadership begins with a clear vision. Here is mine: the primary mission of government is to provide everyone the opportunity for a better life – not just the few, not even the many, but everyone. We are the sum of our people. And we will never reach our full potential if even one person is held back by poor schools, prejudice, poverty or crime.
In my first term, we demonstrated that, in California, anything is possible when we work together. Today, public schools are getting better. A college education is more accessible. One million more children have health insurance. Three thousand more police officers are on the street. We've taken historic steps to protect our environment. We've built stronger ties with our only international neighbor, the Republic of Mexico. And, thanks to the ingenuity and hard work of Californians, we're the first economy in America to reach the trillion-dollar benchmark. In fact, we've surpassed Italy and France to become the fifth largest economy in the world.
Today, we lead America in school reform, HMO reform, gun control and family leave. We're the national standard-bearer on cancer research, stem-cell research, clean air, clean water, renewable energy and individual privacy. In short, California is leading again. It has regained its rightful place as the premier state in America and the envy of much of the world.
This is the California of our founders' dreams. A California of courage and confidence. A California that reflects the values of our people. A California worth fighting for.
But, my friends, be warned: there are those who oppose our programs and resent our progress. The battle lines have already been drawn. Between us and those who contaminate our air and water. Between us and those who put illegal weapons on our streets. Between us and those who manipulate our energy market and cheat us out of billions of dollars. Mark my words: I will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you and fight against these forces of reversal and retrenchment. And I am not backing down.
One more thing: last year, I signed legislation protecting a woman's constitutional right to choose, no matter who's sitting on the United States Supreme Court. Once and for all, we've answered the question "who decides." In California, women decide.
Over the last four years, we've been blessed by moments of ascendancy and great achievement. But we've also been challenged by crisis, hardened by tragedy and tested by terror. And we've emerged from this adversity, tougher and stronger.
Now, we face a severe budget shortfall. Its sheer magnitude boggles the mind and threatens the unprecedented progress we've made together. This is a national crisis, afflicting nearly every state in America. We didn't seek it, but we do not shirk from it. We didn't produce it, but we will prevail against it.
Remember: God never gives us more than we can handle. Just enough to let us know who we really are. Well, we are California. We will lead this nation and show the way.
In the meantime, we must tighten our belts without hardening our hearts. And, to the extent possible, protect our progress in public education, public safety and children's health insurance. Now is not the time for pomp and circumstance, but for hard work, hard truth and hard choices.
We began the hard work last year with a spending freeze and a hiring freeze. We've also reduced the size of state government by eliminating 10,000 positions. We confronted the hard truth when we announced a $35-billion problem. Finally, we've begun the hard choices with $10 billion in proposed cuts. And, later this week, I will introduce a budget plan that is both responsible and balanced.
We are not alone. This is a national problem. Across America, unemployment is up. Exports are down. Growth is stagnant. Markets are near record lows. America needs a real economic plan that puts Americans back to work – and I call on Washington to act.
But California cannot afford to wait. From this day forward, the first goal of my Administration will be creating new jobs and improving California's economy. Every dream begins with a job. And every new job elevates our economy. Jobs are the financial engine for better schools, safer streets, affordable health care and a cleaner environment. Without them, we cannot invest in our people or their dreams.
As Governor, I will bring an intense, unshakable focus to creating new jobs. And I will direct every resource at my command to re-energizing our economy. In the days to follow, I will be releasing details of a new California Jobs Plan. With this new initiative, I am setting a statewide goal of 500,000 new jobs over the next four years.
First, we will "Build California" – a comprehensive plan to accelerate school and road construction and stimulate new housing and home ownership.
Second, we will make California more small-business-friendly. After all, America's largest state relies on small business to create more than half of its jobs. Together, we will eliminate unreasonable regulatory hurdles and strengthen our small business environment.
Third, we will make California America's arsenal for homeland security. Our aerospace and defense workers once supplied the stockpile that won World War II, then the Cold War. Today, California possesses the ingenuity and technology to lead the triumph over terror and help all Americans secure their homeland.
Fourth, we will make California the world's nucleus for life science innovation. This sector of the economy, perhaps more than any other, has high-growth potential, high wages for its workers, and a higher purpose – using cell technology to build healthier, happier lives. We'll build on our existing successes to put California at the center of this remarkable industry.
Finally, we must find a way to wean state government off the feast-and-famine budgeting it's experienced for generations. For too long, our investments in education, health care, public safety and vital services have been determined by a roller-coaster ride of revenue peaks and valleys. This year, we must do more than just patch over the problems that plague our fiscal house. Our task is far greater than balancing the books. We must re-write the book on California budgets.
None of this will be easy. It will require hard work, long nights and great sacrifice. But it can be done – and done fairly. In all these things, America's best must be our standard. And history – our guide.
Californians have always reached beyond our individual struggles, inspired by the uncommon resolve of those who came before us: our parents and their parents and their parents before them – generations of Californians who've overcome Depressions, recessions, World Wars, the Cold War, the shocking loss of President Kennedy and Dr. King. We've withstood earthquakes, floods, fires, droughts, riots, and, most recently, an Energy Crisis. Through it all, we've endured, even prospered. And so we will again.
My friends, our challenges are great, but our will is greater. Together, we will build a future worthy of our glorious past. We are California. A California worth fighting for. A special place, graced by God, where all dreams, large and small, can and do come true.