Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Voters to CA Legislature: Drop Dead

"California voters couldn't have delivered a more emphatic message to the state's political establishment yesterday. In a special statewide election, voters rejected five of the six ballot measures passed by the legislature to extend recently passed tax increases and create various budget gimmicks to reduce the state's deficit. The only measure to pass was a sop to public anger, one that would block pay raises for legislators if they fail to pass a balanced budget.

"Almost all of the state's major leaders, including Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, practically begged voters to approve the measures. A coalition of teachers, infrastructure enthusiasts and business groups raised nearly $26 million to warn Californians of the dire consequences if the propositions failed. Opponents raised only $4.3 million, but nonetheless secured a greater than 60% "no" vote on each of the five defeated measures.

"It's unlikely state legislators will go back to the people with any new, bright ideas. Yesterday's election was the 13th time since 2000 that Californians have been asked to vote on statewide referendums, and voter fatigue has clearly set in. 'Voters have spoken and taken tax increases off the table,' says Jon Fleischman, editor of the influential political blog

"California now must either scale back its bloated array of state government programs or seek a federal bailout. Some relief from Washington is possible in the form of a federal guarantee on the state's short-term debt, allowing the state to roll over its debt and pay incoming bills when it runs out of cash this summer. But that Band-Aid will do nothing to address the state's massive deficit, which is likely to reach 25% of the total budget this year."

-- John Fund, Wall Street Journal

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