Governor Schaefer takes the oath of office today, for the second and last time. This is a far more somber occasion, however, than it was in 1987. Schaefer faces serious budget deficits, a regional and national recession that is cutting down state revenue and tough decisions over whether to slice programs, services or cut state jobs. Partly as a result of this dilemma, his budget will be late this year, which will only exacerbate tensions with the legislature.
These are difficult times and it's not easy for anyone to lead, especially Schaefer, who has been in something of a funk. His landslide victory in November wasn't landslide enough to suit him, and he seems to take every criticism personally. More than that, William Donald Schaefer is a man who has always wanted to achieve, and without money it's going to be more difficult for him to make his mark. But it is not impossible.
There are many policy matters where the governor might make a significant difference -- abortion, for example, gun control, environmental legislation, insurance reform. In the final stretch, Schaefer will have to rely less on fiscal resources and more on his own intuitive political skill and legendary energy to achieve the fair and just society he dreams of.