As California goes ...
California voters overwhelmingly rejected five of six budget reform measures Tuesday, setting the stage for more brutal spending cuts and further jeopardizing the state's financial stability.
Final election returns early today showed three-fourths of voters rejecting Propositions 1A through 1E. Prop. 1F - which does not raise any funds but restricts pay to state leaders - was approved by that same margin.
Pre-election polling had predicted failure for the measures, which would have borrowed against future lottery proceeds, delayed payments to schools, redirected state revenues, capped state spending and extended temporary tax increases.
"I think the voters spoke resoundingly tonight," Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, said at a No on Prop. 1A election party less than an hour after polls closed at 8 p.m. "I think the Legislature has one last chance to get it right, and if they fail, I believe voters will take matters into their own hands and enact a solution that will shake the foundation of the political establishment from the Pacific to the Atlantic."
The voters' rejection of the measures ranks as one of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's biggest political defeats and leaves his budget solutions in tatters.
The measures were part of the February budget deal including tax increases and spending cuts that were supposed to close a $42 billion deficit. But in the time since the measures were crafted, sales and income tax revenue has continued to tank.
Now, the state faces a $21.3 billion deficit - a huge number although just half of the deficit state leaders faced early this year.
The five that went down in flames were going to do nothing to pull the state out of the mess it's in. The advocates for the passage of the five propositions that failed used fear-mongering scare tactics on the voters. "Vote for this, or your house may burn down because there won't be enough firefighters." "Vote for that or your school may close because we won't have enough money to pay for teachers." Give me a break, already.
The propositions were taxes and fees to raise revenue for the state. California is mired in sh*t-Hell, and it's not due to the taxpayer. It's all due to the legislature, and their free-spending ways. They spent themselves into this mess, and they wanted to put the taxpayers on the hook to sew up the damage. The problem is voters saw through this little ruse, and voted all but the cap on legislature pay down. (The problem with the pay raise proposition is that it should have been a hard cap on the pay, period, and not one that said if tough economic times hit the state, and the budget isn't balanced, lawmakers don't get a pay raise. Puh-leeze. The state legislature will find a way around this.)
As for the people taking matters into their own hands, who knows. They just might. Anyone remember 1978 with California's Proposition 13? Some lawmakers are working to get a two-thirds majority to bury Prop 13 in an effort to gain new tax revenue. They don't like their limits and we all know what happens when government gets ticked at the people for limiting their power. Eventually they'll get their way. But that didn't happen yesterday. Yesterday the voters sent an overwhelming message to California.
Fix the problems without foisting a heavier tax burden on the people. Cut spending and be fiscally responsible. The legislature has plenty of tax revenues coming in to make ends meet and balance the budget. It is not the fault of the taxpayers that the monkeys in the legislature haven't managed the money wisely. The California legislature would be wise to take that into consideration. If they don't, they just might face a larger revolt when the legislature comes up for election.