Address by Governor Reagan

 

California Newspaper Publishers Association Banquet

 

Hilton Hotel – San Francisco

 

February 3, 1967

 

 

It is always a privilege to appear before the ladies and gentlemen of the press whether they be the people who write the stories or the people who publish them.

 

Now I’ve been reading a lot of your papers lately and you must be making the news more exciting or something because I find myself reading the front page before I look at Peanuts.

 

Seriously, to one who reveres our tradition of a free press, it is reassuring in a day when managed news is a reality to see that some of you welcome the changes we are trying to make and understand the problems we face.  Others would like to return to the good old days that preceded last November 8.  That of course is your right and privilege.  Of course it’s also your right and privilege to change your mind, and if you did so, it wouldn’t shake my faith in a free press one bit.

 

I’m grateful for the great quantities of advice I find in your editorial pages – advice on everything from how to balance the budget to how to be happy without an honorary degree from the University of California.

 

Believe me I appreciate that advice.  I know it is well intentioned and constructive.  I’ve learned one basic truth already that will help me keep a sense of balance.

 

We are truly anxious to please the good people of this great state.  With that in mind we are not only listening to advice; we are seeking it.

 

But after we get this advice we have to sift it and weigh it and then come up with decisions that of necessity mean ignoring some of it – no matter how well-meaning – if to follow it means turning away from promises made during the campaign.

 

You know, there is a story that actually happened involving a defeated presidential candidate.

 

He was called before a Senatorial committee to testify on a federal policy.  He spoke out in defense of that policy. 

 

Then one of the Senators said to him, “but that isn’t what you said when you were running for president?”

 

He protested, “those were just campaign promises.  I really didn’t mean them.”  If he was expressing a political truism – it is one I cannot follow.

 

I ran on certain Issues and made certain promises, and I have to believe the people agreed that these were the issues and those promises would be kept.

 

During the campaign I said I thought there was an umbrella issue, the issue of simple morality in government.  I still think that this is a fact.  Morality should always be an issue in government.

 

Morality to me means dealing in truth and living up to your word, whether it be a personal promise or a campaign promise.

 

Let me say, however, I recognize all campaign promises cannot  be kept.  Not because one falters at the task of following through but simply because the people do not vest all the power it is their right to bestow in only one individual.

 

Many promises depend on implementation by the Legislature and some on the will of the people.  This means trying to understand the will of the people.

 

There have been many interpretations and much speculation as to the meaning of what took place on November 8, [1966] not only here but across the nation.  It is my personal conviction that much of what happened was a protest.  The people voted against it.  They voted against the fallacy that we collectively can pile up a debt without eventually having to pay our pro-rated share of that debt individually.  They voted against the compulsory sharing of their earnings with those who could but wouldn’t work.

 

They voted against the stultifying hand of government regulation in every facet of their lives and they voted against government that was neither responsible or responsive to the people.

 

They expressed a belief that government has grown too far away from the people.  And they denied a theory grown up over the years that says a little clique of so-called intellectuals in Sacramento or in Washington can decide better that the people how to solve the people’s problems.

 

This administration does not believe that a man in Sacramento can outline the best route for a freeway in Newport Beach, or a bureaucrat in Washington reach the right decision on how many harvest workers a farmer needs in Fresno or in Florida.

 

Big business has already found that the answer to its problem lies in decentralization.

 

Many of California’s problems can be solved in the same way.  We have already taken a number of steps to bring state government closer to the people and are working to return some of the powers usurped by the state government over the years to local governments.

 

Already two new offices have been opened – one in San Diego and one in Fresno.  Members of the administration including myself, me executive secretary, Phil Battaglia, and others, are visiting those offices regularly as well as the ones in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

 

In addition, we have set up in the Governor’s Office a special liaison section.  Currently, designated staff members are working as liaison between the state and county and city governments as well as between the Governor’s Office and minority groups.

 

We have had introduced in the Legislature bills that would return to the local governments specific regulatory powers that have in recent years been judged by the courts to belong to the state.

 

We are working to give counties more control of their welfare programs and we are looking at other areas where it might be possible for local controls to supercede state controls or where the state can work in partnership with local governments.

 

I mentioned the budget a moment ago in regard to what might be called a credibility gap.

 

Let me talk about it now in terms of what it is and what we are trying to do.

 

As many of you know, I will go on television Sunday evening (in some areas we may even be pre-empting Death Valley Days) to talk in detail about it.  But just for a moment, let me discuss the problem briefly.

 

It is very simple and the way to solve it is simple , too, if we have the will and fortitude to do it.

 

The problem is this: the current year’s budget was predicated on spending 15 months’ income in 12 months and then borrowing an additional 180 million dollars.

 

I am shocked when I read accusations that we are in some way exaggerating our fiscal situation and darkening the picture for political purposes.

 

Once again, let me state a simple fact – every 24 hours California government spends $1,000,000 more than it takes in.  To balance a balance budget for next year that actually is $250 million lower than the current budget means we have both to cut costs and increase taxes by about 250 million more dollars in revenues,  That balances the budget but it still leaves us unable to pay of 180 million dollars in additional funds the state has borrowed this fiscal year.

 

Now the federal government can get away with this.  But under the California Constitution that is illegal, which means that we are going to have to find another 180 million dollars – guess where – from your pockets.  And while you are digging, see what you can find for property tax relief.

 

Another promise we will try to keep is cutting California’s crime rate.  Legislation in this area has already been introduced on behalf of the administration.  So has legislation to control the flow of pornography and smut.

 

We expect shortly to seek legislation allowing for reorganization of the executive branch to give us better lines of communication with department and bureau heads and to make the executive branch function more efficiently.

 

In the executive area we have asked nearly one hundred of the state’s leading businessmen and industrialists to provide us the manpower – about 150 top executives in specialized areas – for a thorough study of our state government.

 

The idea is to streamline government to make it operate more efficiently, to help prepare our state to meet the problems of the next 20 years.  A side benefit could well be the saving of several million dollars.

 

I said we have asked business and industry to help.  We have, and their response has been enthusiastic.  At our first meeting we were pledged almost the manpower we need.  This study will begin shortly.  It will not be financed by tax dollars.

 

Neither will another program I have mentioned before – the program aimed at providing jobs for our untrained manpower, especially those able-bodied men and women in minority groups who want to work but who, because of lack of training or education, have not been able to find jobs.

 

This program, which during the last year proved so successful in Watts has now been expanded on a statewide basis.  Its success, we are convinced, will go a long way toward easing racial tensions.

 

Its success should also cut welfare costs and add to our tax rolls instead of our tax burden.

 

These are just some of the things we are trying to do, some of the promises we are trying to keep.

 

Many people of both parties have told us it can’t be done.  Frankly, we don’t believe them.  The American dream was not built on this kind of cynicism, this kind of fatalistic outlook.  We believe it can be done.  We are convinced that Californians want it done.

 

We are convinced that most of the legislators in both parties also want it done.

 

They know there is a limit to the tax burden they can ask the people to bear.

 

They, too, have felt the breeze of the people’s discontent and they know that the last election was a reflection of that discontent.

 

I suppose any political party too long in power grows soft, contented, self-satisfied, and in a sense, indifferent to the to will of the people.

 

I pray that affliction will not strike this administration.

 

But if it does, we will count on you people out there, and the papers you represent to make that fact clear, to take the story to the people and let the people decide.

 

All we ask of you is that you seek out the story and the stories of this administration and that you print them fully and accurately.

 

If you do that, you will have fulfilled your obligation to California just as we are trying to fulfill ours. 

 

I believe it was Harry Truman who said, “If the people know the facts they will never vote against themselves.”

 

They must count on you to give them the facts.  You must – and can – count on us to make sure the facts are available.  Nobody believes more strongly than I in the people’s right to know.

 

And I am sure that if the people do know, they will make the right decision. 

 

I am confident of their judgments.  And I welcome them and yours now and in the years ahead.

 

Note:  Since Governor Reagan speaks from notes, there may be changes in the above text.  However, he will stand by any quotes taken from the above.  Also, the Governor may make additional impromptu remarks.