Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1936 to Marino and Mary Moretti, his family later relocated to Los Angeles when Moretti was a teenager. Moretti's father was born in Ovindoli, Italy, and his mother was of Armenian descent.
Moretti graduated from Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California in 1954 and went on to earn an accounting degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1958. Returning to California, Moretti was first elected to the California State Assembly in 1964 at the age of 28, making him the youngest member of the Assembly at that time. In the Assembly, Moretti represented Van Nuys.
Seen as a protege of Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh, Moretti was first elected Speaker in 1971 and quickly emerged as a staunch opponent of Republican Governor Ronald Reagan. Moretti's initial resistance to Reagan, however, gave way some cooperation, particularly on the issue of welfare costs. Seeking to reach a deal, Moretti purportedly told Reagan, "I don't like you particularly and I know you don't like me but we don't have to be in love to work together." Moretti and Reagan eventually developed a sense of mutual respect that culminated in the 1971 California Welfare Reform Act.
In 1973, Moretti emerged as a leading figure in the successful campaign to defeat Reagan's Proposition 1, a ballot initiative to set state spending and taxes using formulas. Seen as a vehicle to enhance Reagan's national profile ahead of a possible run for President, Moretti and other opponents argued the proposition would force drastic cuts in state services and force local governments to raise property taxes.
Moretti died of a heart attack while playing tennis in 1984 at the age of 47.
- Driscoll, James D. (1976). California's Legislature, 1976. Sacramento: Chief Clerk of the Assembly. p. 186.
- Cannon, Lou (2003). Governor Reagan: His Rise To Power. PublicAffairs. ISBN 978-1-58648-030-1.
- Journal of the Assembly, Legislature of the State of California. Sacramento: James D. Driscoll, Chief Clerk of the Assembly. 1973. p. 17175.
- Lambert, Marjie (13 May 1984). "Moretti, 47, Dies Of Heart Attack". Sacramento Bee.
- "California Faces Key Vote Tuesday". The New York Times. 1973-11-04. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-03-23.
- Daniel J.B. Mitchell, "Governor Reagan's ballot box budgeting: One that got away." Southern California Quarterly 89.2 (2007): 195-227.
- Garin Burbank, "Governor Reagan's Only Defeat: The Proposition 1 Campaign in 1973." California History 72.4 (1993): 360-373.
- Burbank, Garin. "Speaker Moretti, Governor Reagan, and the Search for Tax Reform in California, 1970-1972." Pacific Historical Review 61.2 (1992): 193-214. online free
- Burbank, Garin. "Governor Reagan's Only Defeat: The Proposition 1 Campaign in 1973." California History 72.4 (1993): 360-373. online
- Burbank, Garin. "Governor Reagan and California Welfare Reform: The Grand Compromise of 1971." California History 70.3 (1991): 278-289.
- Mitchell, Daniel JB. "Governor Reagan's ballot box budgeting: One that got away." Southern California Quarterly 89.2 (2007): 195-227. online
Robert T. Monagan
| Speaker of the California State Assembly
January 1971–June 1974
Leo T. McCarthy
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