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What's Ahead for California . . .

November 06, 1986

Gov. George Deukmejian's reelection victory is a tribute to his ability to project himself as a hard-working executive intent on bringing solid, steady management to Sacramento. It has lacked flair, perhaps. But after 16 years of flashier governors who neglected the nooks and crannies of the state establishment, California needed that.

We congratulate Deukmejian on his impressive victory. We commend Mayor Tom Bradley for the vigor of his campaign. The son of Armenian immigrants, the son of a sharecropper--their backgrounds symbolize the diversity and promise of California.

The election now is over, but the diversity of California grows apace. The promise of California remains unfulfilled, and the problems of the 21st Century are rushing upon us. So now we look to the governor for a vision of the future that will keep California on the crest of the wave, not in the trough.

Four years of excessively frugal fine-tuning of government and overly prudent management will not equip California for the 21st Century. All Californians agree with the governor on the need for economic growth without excessive restriction. But investors will demand far more than that before they are willing to commit their long-range resources to California.

Planning for the future is not a Republican or Democratic issue, not government versus free enterprise, not north versus south or valley versus coast. It is something that can be achieved only if California's diversity is woven into a unified pattern with specific goals in mind. That will require imagination, energy and leadership from the governor's office, and cooperation from the Democratic leaders in the Legislature.

In an analysis of California, President Robert C. Holland of the respected Committee for Economic Development said earlier this year, "The lack of sustained consensus as to the directions for state progress has injected uncertainties into the picture that are somewhat discouraging to business." He specifically mentioned the need for new transportation facilities, water development, education reform and fiscal stability.

Clearly, the arbitrary limits of Proposition 13 and the 1979 Gann-Proposition 4 restrictions on state spending, which may impose a $1-billion crunch on the state budget this coming year, hamstring the state's ability to attract economic development. Unless the governor and the Legislature deal with the Gann limit in particular, California can lose the race to the future by default.

Because California is so large and diverse, the building of consensus is more difficult than in other states, CED's Holland observed. For the same reasons, consensus-building is even more vital for California "if you are to make the most of the extraordinary potential that is here."

The job is not made any easier by the emotions stirred by recent election issues such as English as California's official language, the anti-AIDS proposal and the Supreme Court. The forgotten and homeless still languish in the cardboard shanties along city streets. Farmers despair for the future. Air, land and water pollution continues. The high-school dropout rate is shameful. Helter-skelter urban and rural sprawl mock our ability to control our destiny. Decent medical care still is beyond the reach of many of California's elderly and poor. The buoyant economy is propped up by massive defense spending that cannot be sustained forever.

Deukmejian may have felt that he faced a massive burden on coming to office four years ago. By almost any account, the demands are even more staggering and critical now. The governor needs the support of all Californians, and he needs to make it clear that he wants that support.

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