(Political Cartoon by David Beck-Brown)
An Open Letter to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
By David Beck-Brown
Now that you’ve been elected Governor of California on the platform of balancing the budget without raising taxes, how will your plan impact the State’s social programs?
As a fiscal conservative and social progressive “Peoples' Governor,” you promise to represent all Californians. The success of your campaign may be an indication that bi-partisan party politics is something of the past. I believe you when you say you want California to be great again.
Arnold, when balancing the budget, remember the old adage that people live on more than bread alone. Balancing the budget at the expense of our quality of life would be a deficit for the people of California. As a successful movie personality, you know the value of the arts and that investing in the arts is financially sound. The arts are at the core of California’s tourist industry and serve all Californians, our youth, people at risk, the mentally ill and our elderly.
Governor Gray Davis, in attempting to balance the budget, all but eliminated the California Arts Council. I remember when Ronald Reagan, as California Governor, surprised many conservatives by investing in the California Arts Council. As an artist/actor, Reagan knew the benefits and the positive windfalls of investing in the arts. What is your stand?
In response to Governor Gray Davis’ attempt to balance the State budget, the California Department of Corrections all but eliminated the Arts in Corrections program. The program was cannibalized, leaving only one artist per prison in a program that once contracted from eight to twelve part-time artists in each of our prisons. Arts in Corrections was a behavior-modification program. It rehabilitated inmates. The cost of incarcerating one inmate was equivalent to funding the Arts in Corrections program at the prison for the entire year. The program paid for itself. Furthermore, inmates participating in the program protected it. They would not riot, destroy state property, or assault other inmates and staff. They were painfully aware that behaving badly in prison would harm the program. Because of this, they monitored their conduct and improved their behavior.
Please, Arnold, support programs designed to help the people of California. Californians have entrusted you with a difficult task. I want you to succeed as our new Governor. I wish you the best in serving the needs of the people of California.