Examining Gov. Schwarzenegger's state legacy

SACRAMENTO Schwarzenegger was swept into office in a wave of enthusiasm. But he leaves at a low point in his popularity.

People had a lot of expectations from Schwarzenegger, a political outsider who promised to "blow up the boxes" and fix Sacramento. But in many ways, things haven't changed there.

With less than two months in office left, Schwarzenegger has begun his farewell tour to pump up his legacy.

The Central Valley threw him a tribute Tuesday, giving him a thank-you gift for his service.

"I'm proud and I'm happy of what we have done, but there's a lot, a lot of work ahead of us," said Schwarzenegger.

Monday night, the governor stopped by "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," the same place he made a surprise announcement in 2003 that he would run for California's top office.

Schwarzenegger said he's happy about the things he accomplished, namely, reform that changes how politicians are elected and investment in public-works projects, the first in decades. He's especially proud of his "green" credentials.

"There's an endless amount of environmental laws, of reducing our greenhouse gasses, of having our energy come 33 percent from renewable," said Schwarzenegger.

But with a worldwide economic recession occurring during his watch, Schwarzenegger had to steer California through a financial mess that's still not over. It meant a lot of unpopular cuts and record-late state budgets that caused his approval rating to plummet from a high of 65 percent six years ago to a dismal 23 percent now.

"The real legacy will just be the budget stalemates, long periods of budget deficits and actually among the lowest job performance ratings in the history of the 50 or 60 years we've been polling on governors," said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll.

Even Schwarzenegger acknowledged the painful choices he had to make.

"You can't go around and declare victory about all of the things that we have done when, in fact, too many people are out of work, and too many people suffering, and too many have no homes or losing their homes," said Schwarzenegger.

Schwarzenegger said in an online Twitter conversation last month that he expects to write a book or two, and maybe even return to movies if a great script comes along.

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