Gray Davis

37th Governor, Democrat

State of the State Address

Delivered: January 5, 2000


  • State of the State Address delivered on January 7, 1999
  • State of the State Address delivered on January 8, 2001
  • State of the State Address delivered on January 8, 2002
  • State of the State Address delivered on January 8, 2003
  • Lieutenant Governor Bustamante, Speaker Villaraigosa, President Pro Tempore Burton, distinguished Members of the Legislature, my fellow Constitutional Officers, honorable Justices of the Supreme Court, esteemed Cabinet Secretaries, friends and fellow Californians. Please join me in welcoming the love of my life, the First Lady of California, Sharon Davis.

    And let me also take this opportunity to pay tribute to a man here tonight to whom we owe a special debt: the longest-serving justice of the California Supreme Court in our state's history, Justice Stanley Mosk.

    As we gather this evening in this august chamber, by radio, television and, for the first time, by Internet we represent the first full congregation of California democracy in the new millennium. Blessed are we for life, for our good fortune and for reaching this moment.

    And guess what? Computers are still working, prisoners are still behind bars and airplanes are still flying. I want to thank our entire Y2K compliance team, headed by Eli Cortez and all of the public and private sector participants for a job well done. They've even fixed that little glitch we had in counting your votes. Now, when any one of my bills comes up, we'll get the total right!

    Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to report that the state of our State is strong. Our economy is booming, unemployment is at an historic low, the technological revolution begun in our Silicon Valley is transforming the globe, our universities are world class, crime rates are heading downward and our budget is balanced. In 1999 alone, California's economy created 400,000 new jobs -- enough to fill the Rose Bowl four times over. And, believe me, I wish they'd all been there with me cheering for Stanford on Saturday!

    Over the course of the last 100 years, leaders larger than life stood here and shared their visions of a California alive with possibility and promise.

    It was Governor Earl Warren who found our future in the mind of every child. And he built a thousand elementary schools.

    Governor Pat Brown dreamed of a California where opportunity and a world-class education are the birthright of every child. And he built a public university system that remains the envy of the world.

    It was Governor Ronald Reagan who believed that California's gold could be discovered in the heart of every individual who dared to risk everything for the sake of an idea. Under his watch, the seeds of California's unrivaled leadership in industries such as aerospace and high technology were sown.

    And it was Governor Jerry Brown who taught us that, if we would only free our imagination, there is nothing as powerful as the combined abilities of California's people.

    As we enter the door to this new millennium, it is our privilege to stand on the shoulders of those who preceded us and our duty to reach higher still.


    Every great human endeavor begins with a cause. Ours is and must remain to make every student, teacher, principal and parent in California demand more from themselves and each other than they ever believed possible.

    Together, we took significant steps to achieve this last year. We insisted on higher expectations by passing the first high school exit exam in our state's history. We set the bar higher for every school by holding each one accountable for the only thing that really matters improved student achievement. And we focused like a laser on the gateway skill reading.

    We instituted testing requirements and performance awards. We invested more in pre-school and after-school programs. School safety and building repairs. Books and parental involvement.

    We signaled to students, teachers and parents alike that we expect the best of them.

    And you know what? They're responding. Across this state, communities are rising to the challenge of higher expectations, sometimes going to extraordinary lengths.

    Take, for example, the Reading Awards we established last year.

    I'd like you all to meet Principal Faye Sarfan and three young readers from Mayo Elementary in Compton. Mayo's students are meeting the challenge of our Reading Awards, pledging to read 60,000 books by April. If they do, Ms. Sarfan has promised to dye her hair green in front of the entire student body! I think that kind of leadership deserves a round of applause.

    As I look around this room, at Democrats and Republicans alike, I am filled with pride, respect and gratitude. Last year, we put partisanship aside and we put California's children first. All of you who helped deserve credit. And I thank you.

    Our efforts represent powerful, ongoing, fundamental changes in our commitment to improve student and teacher achievement. We demonstrated to everyone that we are determined to do everything within our means to recapture California's rightful place at the head of the class.

    But, to those who say we've done enough for now: let me remind you that by all accounts, California's students still rank near the bottom of the 50 states. That's not good enough for me. And it's certainly not good enough for the children of California.

    We will never regain our former prominence without the most vital ingredient a first-rate teacher for every classroom, in every school, in every neighborhood. Our democratic system of self-governance and our prosperity itself are entirely dependent on the participation of educated citizens men and women who can read, write and reason. And for this great responsibility for the creation of good citizens we rely on teachers.

    No one has greater respect than I for the men and women who have fought for this country. Our prosperity and peace, we owe to them. But the war for the future will not be fought on some distant battlefield, but right here at home. It will be fought school to school, classroom to classroom, desk to desk one qualified teacher at a time, one motivated student at a time.

    My friends, after parents, teachers are California's greatest force for social good. They are exceptional people doing extraordinary things. They represent the foot soldiers in the most important battle we face: the war on mediocrity in our public schools.

    And so, to our youth, let me say: There is no higher calling, no greater public service, no contribution more valued than to join the front lines of the future, in the classroom. This is our generation's call to arms.

    And to the best and brightest students in our colleges and universities and all you junior-high and high school students watching here in the Capitol I say this: Whether you spend four years or forty in the classroom, your commitment and contribution will make a difference. One mind at a time, you will change the world.

    As a state, our challenge is daunting.

    In the next eight years, we must recruit and train more teachers than were troops in the allied forces that stormed Normandy on D-Day. Let me repeat that: more teachers than troops in the D-Day invasion. We must not meet that demand by lowering standards or by sacrificing quality. In this Era of Higher Expectations, our schools, students and teachers must meet higher standards, not lower ones.

    But let's face the facts. For far too long, teachers and the teaching profession itself have been undervalued. Well, to borrow a phrase from Uncle Sam, I intend to say to our young people: I want you to be a teacher.

    Last year, we boosted beginning teacher salaries and instituted performance awards of up to $25,000 for teachers whose students show extraordinary improvement.

    This year, if you agree to work in a school that ranks in the bottom 50 percent where the need for good teachers is greatest here's what we're going to do: If you want to become a teacher, we'll pay for your college education with up to $11,000 in forgivable college loans. If you're one of our top college graduates, you'll be eligible for a $20,000 competitive teaching fellowship if you get your credential. If you become a fully credentialed teacher, we'll give both you and your school a $2,000 bonus and you'll be eligible for a $10,000 forgivable loan for the down payment on a new home. And, if you're a teacher with national board certification, we'll boost your award for that achievement from $10,000 up to $30,000.

    What's more, if you're a retired teacher, we'll allow you to keep your full pension if you return to teaching at any school you want.

    And that's not all. I'll seek funding to establish five teacher recruitment centers that will aim to enlist thousands of new teachers. We'll couple that with an aggressive out-of-state teacher recruitment campaign.

    With these measures and with a loud and consistent voice from your governor we will begin to tell California, especially our youth, what must be said: teaching is a noble pursuit. Good teachers are vital to us all.

    If California can feed, entertain and connect the world as we do then we can put a qualified teacher in every classroom.

    Yes, we must spend more. And we will. But even more important, we must spend wisely. We cannot win this battle simply by throwing money at it. We must not let taxpayer dollars be wasted on bureaucracy but, instead, we must invest them directly into the classroom: for students and for teachers.

    That's what we did this year, when we sent 6,000 teachers to our Reading Institutes. It's an amazing program. Teachers who have been through it will tell you that our Reading Institutes were the single most effective professional training experience in their careers. I've invited three of those teachers to join us tonight, along with an educator from UC San Diego who literally put this program together in record time, Gretchen Laue. Could you all please stand up and be recognized for your hard work?

    This year, I will propose a 10-fold increase in this program by far the most ambitious teacher-training initiative in America. We will provide focused professional development for more than 70,000 teachers this year alone in reading, algebra, English language learning, and key skills across the curriculum all aimed at preparing students to meet higher academic achievements.

    These institutes embody the largest and most rigorous state-sponsored drive to train teachers ever initiated by any state. With a curriculum developed by the University of California and the California State University system, our great institutions of higher learning are allocating powerful human and fiscal resources to make sure we raise K-12 education to the level our children and parents deserve.

    Tonight, I want to thank two educators for their extraordinary leadership in making our teacher-training institutes such a smashing success, University of California President Richard Atkinson and California State University Chancellor Charles Reed. Thank you, gentlemen, from the bottom of my heart.

    Now, we're also going to follow up on last year's tough new standards for students with incentives for them to do better. We'll begin by offering $1,000 college scholarships to every ninth, tenth and eleventh grade student who scores in the top 10 percent statewide or the top 5 percent of their school on the STAR test.

    That's up to $3,000 plus interest banked in the Scholarshare Program that will be available to the hardest-working, top-achieving high school students for college or trade school. We expect about 100,000 students per year will win these scholarships every single one based on merit.

    To encourage our young people to pursue science and technology, we will offer distinguished scholar awards of $2,500 to any high school student who also scores a 5 on the Advanced Placement math exam and one AP science exam. If AP classes are not yet available, then we will allow the student to qualify for a scholarship by obtaining an equivalent score on the Golden State Exam.

    But that won't last long, because I'm calling on the Legislature to provide the funds to make at least one AP class available to every student in California by this fall. At first, it may mean students have to go to another location to take the class. Or watch the teacher on closed-circuit TV.

    By the following year, however, I don't want to hear any more excuses. I propose spending $20.5 million to ensure that at least four core AP classes will be available to every high school student. No child in California capable of taking AP classes will be held back because we couldn't get the job done.

    We're also going to bring schools and classrooms into the 21st Century. I will be calling on private industry to join our Digital High School program to wire every school in California to the Internet. And I will ask you to invest an historic $200 million to make sure that every classroom has the computers they need and teachers trained to use them.

    While we're investing in our oldest pupils, we won't forget the youngest in their formative years. Last year, we provided pre-school slots for 17,000 children below the poverty line. This year, I will ask you for funds to complete the effort we began last year to provide pre-school for 100,000 4-year-olds.

    Last, but not least, I will ask you for $75 million to launch California Institutes for Science and Innovation, to be established at three campuses of the University of California. This new initiative will give rise to world-class centers for strategic innovation that combine cutting-edge research with training for new scientists and technological leaders.

    Our institutes will concentrate intellect, experience and entrepreneurial talent in focused areas of scientific inquiry to discover and apply the breakthroughs necessary for the next generation of technologies.

    With one in five new jobs in the high-technology sector, California is the nation's leader in research and development. In part, that results from the rich collaboration between our great universities and private industry a nexus that has given birth to some of the world's most innovative and productive high-tech firms that create hundreds of thousands of high-wage jobs and billions of dollars in income and revenues.

    Our California Institutes for Science and Innovation whether they concentrate on medicine and bioengineering, telecommunications and information systems, energy resources, space or agricultural technology will seek matching funds from private industry, foundations and communities to ensure that we maintain and expand our role at the leading edge of technological invention in the 21st century.

    Fifty years ago, there was no Silicon Valley. Thirty years ago, there was no biotech industry. Ten years ago, there was no Internet. Who knows what new enterprises will be created or what medical breakthroughs will result because of our institutes? But this we do know: breakthroughs will occur. And I want to make sure they will occur right here in California.

    Finally, let us keep in mind that our economy has blessed us with vast new revenues and that the people of California rightfully expect us to invest the lion's share in education. And we will. But to those who propose education measures that would require massive tax hikes beyond the record revenues already flowing to the state, I remind you that I believe in working within the resources the economy provides us. And that's what I intend to do.


    Now, just as we have a duty to the children who embody our future, so, too, do we have an obligation to those who personify our past: those who fought wars, endured hardships and delivered us our great good fortune.

    In a state where people over 85 represent the fastest growing segment of our population, it's time to put new policies in place to assist our older citizens in Aging with Dignity.

    Our approach consistent with our values should be to keep families together by providing the services older Californians need to remain in their own homes, instead of nursing homes.

    First, I will propose a $500 tax credit for caregivers, or for the elderly themselves, for the cost of caring for older citizens who need special assistance at home. I will ask you also to increase the pay for those who provide in-home support services to the elderly. We will also allow Medi-Cal to cover more out-of-pocket costs for disabled seniors.

    And, in partnership with the private sector, I hope to make $500 million available over the next 10 years including a $20-million jump-start this year in state funds to expand adult day care facilities, community centers and full-service residential centers. I am confident that when I call on private foundations to meet this challenge, they will rise to the occasion.

    While we all want to see nursing homes as a last resort, they must at the same time be places where people go to live out their remaining years with dignity, not where they go just to die.

    So we will tighten the financial requirements for operating a nursing home. We'll add 200 investigators to ensure quality care. And we will increase to $100,000 the fine that may be levied against a nursing home operator whose negligence leads to the death of an elderly resident.

    We will increase pay for nursing-home workers. And we will also make available substantial Workforce Investment Act funds to give people the skills they need to work in nursing homes and provide in-home services.

    Finally, I will be asking you to commit $26.2 million to the massive effort my administration began in July in conjunction with the FBI to stamp out the estimated $1 billion in Medi-Cal fraud being perpetrated by scam artists posing as providers. Although we've launched the most widespread attack ever on these crooks, we've only scratched the surface. And to those so-called doctors, lawyers, and businessmen who are defrauding the state: we're coming after you next.


    My friends, California's economy is the greatest engine of job creation we have ever known. But people can't work if they can't get to work. If we are to keep our economy moving forward, we must find faster, more efficient ways to connect goods, services and most important of all people.

    Last year, motorists on California's freeways spent more than 800,000 hours each day in traffic jams at a daily cost of nearly $8 million. Our freeways are anything but free.

    The more time people spend in clogged commuter corridors, the less productive they are on a daily basis and the less time they have to spend where it matters most -- with their families.

    Last year, we invested $3.5 billion to repair transportation facilities, completed 300 miles of new highway lanes, upgraded 1,500 miles of highway, completed Highway 180 in Fresno and the 405 between Los Angeles and Orange County. And we finally finished the Cypress Freeway replacement in Oakland.

    Nevertheless, we remain behind the curve. Our need in transportation alone is estimated at over $100 billion during the next decade. So we must make choices and we must spend wisely.

    This year for roads, highways, commuter transit and inter-city rail I will propose spending $7.5 billion, including $3 billion in new funds.

    Even more important, we need a new framework for thinking about and planning for transportation funding.

    Here is mine: it's the job of local governments and regional agencies to identify and finance local projects. After all, nearly 75 percent of state and federal transportation funds go directly to local governments for local use. It's the state's job to connect regions and localities to speed up the movement of people and goods.

    Like many of you, I'm intrigued by the idea of high-speed rail along the spine of California. I hope someday we'll be able to afford to make it a reality. But, in the near term, I am focused on traffic congestion in commuter corridors that affect the daily productivity and quality of life of Californians.

    That means, in particular, improving access in the Central Valley.Speeding up the commute between the San Joaquin Valley and the Bay Area. And reducing congestion in Silicon Valley, the Inland Empire, San Diego and the Los Angeles basin.

    Those are my priorities. But, while millions of Californians sit stranded in traffic, billions of highway dollars are languishing unspent in local coffers. My message is simple: use it or lose it.

    If these funds are not obligated for local projects by July 31st, then we will program $1.7 billion of those funds by the end of the year. No longer can we afford to hit the snooze button on vital transportation dollars. If we can put those funds to work now, then we can get California moving again.

    This is the guiding principle of a larger proposal I will outline as part of my budget next week.

    Of course, transportation is not the only huge infrastructure demand facing California. Because of your decisions last year, Californians will have an opportunity in March to pass historic measures to finance parks, coastal protections, water projects, libraries, crime labs and veterans homes. If we are to pick up where Earl Warren and Pat Brown left off, then we must once again build the facilities California needs to thrive in the next century.


    Amid all the changes that mark the turning of the millennium, one thing remains constant: the fundamental duty of government to provide for the public safety. No one, let me assure you, is more committed to this mission than I am.

    Last year, we put more cops on the street, made our schools safer, gave police and sheriffs the tools they need to combat crime and, with your bold decisions, approved funding for a badly needed new prison and enacted the toughest and most far-reaching gun control measures in the nation. We took military-style assault weapons off the street. We banned unsafe handguns. We limited gun purchases to one a month. We required child-safety locks. And we tightened up on gun shows.

    These are sensible, forward-looking gun safety laws. But, my friends, they need time to work.

    I'm pleased to note tonight that in 1999, the crime rate in California in the first half of the year dropped 15% to its lowest point in a quarter of a century.

    This is a tribute to the brave men and women in law enforcement everyday heroes who wake up every morning, put their badge on their uniform and their lives on the line. Our safety is their purpose. Our protection is their passion. Tonight, I ask you to give them a warm round of applause.

    Yet, despite lower crime rates and the sacrifices of cops on the beat, few people feel genuinely safe. For, while the number of crimes has decreased, the nature of crime is more random and violent than ever.

    This year, we will put even more police officers and sheriffs deputies on the streets. And we will sharply increase grants to local law enforcement agencies for crime-fighting technology to improve response times.

    We're also going to take dramatic steps to prevent crimes from occurring in the first place. We will establish a Second Strike Task Force by hiring more than 100 new parole agents to concentrate attention on high-risk parolees. Today, parole agents who supervise two-strike felons have a caseload of 70-to-1. We'll cut that load down to 40-to-1. Simply put, our goal is to stop that third strike before it's committed.

    I will also ask your support to create the Turning Point Academy at Camp San Luis Obispo, where 160 cadets will be offered intensive physical activity, education, counseling and substance-abuse treatment.

    It's not enough that current law authorizes schools to expel students who bring a firearm to campus. We will say to these offenders who put our children in jeopardy: "You've got a choice. You can do a year in jail or you can go to Turning Point Academy, a year-long boot camp with high-quality academic instruction."

    For working with my administration to develop the Turning Point Academy, I am indebted to local law enforcement leaders Sheriffs Lou Blanas of Sacramento, Lee Baca of Los Angeles, Mike Corona of Orange County and Bill Kolender of San Diego. Thank you, Sheriffs we applaud you.


    Education first and foremost, health care, transportation and public safety these are my priorities for the coming year. But there is much more we must do.

    In the coming days, I will unveil initiatives in higher education, environmental protection, veterans' affairs, e-government and additional tax relief. We'll set forth our plan to allow motorists to register their vehicles with the DMV on line. With the help of Cisco Systems, Sun Microsystems and Pacific Bell, we're putting together for the first time ever a system to allow citizens to e-mail the governor and receive a reply. And for those who have any constructive comments about this speech, I've even got a new e-mail address:

    Friends, as we begin this new century, it's important to remember the contributions of those who came before us. The investment made by our founding fathers in public education is largely responsible for all the great things this nation has produced. They understood that free enterprise, coupled with a highly educated people, could yield wonders never before seen in the world. And it did.

    As I said in my Inaugural Address a year ago, this is our time. Let us resolve that we shall do for our children what our parents did for us provide them with the tools to fulfill their dreams. Guided by the example of those who preceded us, let us recognize that except for securing our own freedom there is no job more important than educating our children. It is the obligation of our generation and the best hope of the next.

    It is our duty, quite simply, to leave California a better place than we found it. And, with your help and the grace of God, that is what we will do. Thank you and God bless you.