California Establishes Day Honoring Reagan

Monday, 19 Jul 2010 10:13 PM

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Tributes to Ronald Reagan are hardly rare in California, where a freeway, medical center, state office building and other landmarks already bear his name.

Now the conservative icon has his own day on the calendar.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed two bills Monday paying tribute to Reagan, a former Republican president and governor who died in 2004. Schwarzenegger praised his fellow actor for his dedication to freedom and democracy and his spirit of optimism.

The first bill, SB944, designates Feb. 6 as Ronald Reagan Day and encourages schools to spend the day commemorating Reagan's life and accomplishments.

The second, AB1911, establishes a commission to plan the celebration of what would have been Reagan's 100th birthday next February. The nine-member commission will use private donations to pay for the festivities.

"In keeping with President Reagan's distrust of bigger government, this bill won't use taxpayer dollars and won't grow the bureaucracy," said the bill's author, Assembly Minority Leader Martin Garrick, R-Solana Beach.

Last year, President Barack Obama signed legislation creating a federal Reagan Centennial Commission with a similar mission.

Ronald Reagan Day is the third special day of recognition in California dedicated to an individual.

The first honors conservationist John Muir. Last year, lawmakers also established a day honoring Harvey Milk, a gay activist and former San Francisco supervisor who was gunned down at City Hall in 1978.

Despite the Legislature's Democratic majority, both bills regarding Reagan received unanimous support. In establishing Ronald Reagan Day, SB944 credits the 40th president with lowering crime and drug use and helping bring about the end of the Cold War.

"President Reagan's many accomplishments are a model of responsibility and an inspiration to individuals around the world," said the bill's author, Sen. George Runner, R-Antelope Valley.

Reagan's time in office was not without controversy.

Hailed as a champion of lower taxes, the Republican's two terms as California governor, from 1967 to 1975, saw increases in taxes and government spending.

As president, he presided over the deregulation of the savings and loan industry, a move that ended up costing taxpayers tens of billions of dollars. In 1986, it was revealed that members of his administration had used profits from Iranian arms sales to fund a Nicaraguan rebel movement — a scandal known as the Iran-Contra affair.

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