California voters have crushed efforts by elected leaders to patch a gaping hole in the state budget with a package of ballot measures that included borrowing, extending $16 billion worth of taxes and promising to reform future budgets with a reserve fund and a spending cap.
Just how bad was it? You can check out the running carnage tally here, but so far:
Prop. 1A: Yes – 34, No – 66
Prop. 1B: Yes – 37, No – 63
Prop. 1C: Yes – 35, No – 65
Prop. 1D: Yes – 34, No, 66
Prop. 1E: Yes – 34, No, 66
Prop. 1F: Yes – 74, No, 26
Californian’s were all warned that if the Propositions failed the state’s economy would sink even further. To highlight that fact, last week Schwarzenegger released two dire budget plans: The most optimistic projects a $15.4 billion gap, which widens to $21.3 billion if voters reject today’s ballot measures.
Voters didn’t take the bait.
The resounding rejection Tuesday of five ballot measures meant to shore up the state’s shaky finances leaves California facing another monumental budget problem — and could hasten the arrival of a financial reckoning – one that has been put off by lawmakers time and again through band-aid budgets and budgetary shell games.
While ABC World News reported that California’s economic woes are due to our sheer size and unwillingness to raise taxes, let us be very clear: California’s current economic crisis is directly linked to lawmakers addiction to overspending.
As George Will, pointed out California government has hardly been starving for money: “If, since 1990, state spending increases had been held to the inflation rate plus population growth, the state would have a $15 billion surplus instead of a $42 billion budget deficit.” In addition, in Arnold “Schwarzenegger’s less than six years as Governor, per capita government spending, adjusted for inflation, has increased nearly 20 percent.”
Tuesday’s election was not merely a rejection of tax hikes, it was a rejection of Sacramento politics as usual. Voters have sent a clear message to Sacramento: Enough is enough. It’s time for Government – Democrats and Republicans alike – to live within their means. Tax hikes never solve budget deficits, and now that the voters have all but eliminated the option of higher taxes, it is time to reform the system and make it work for the people – not against them.
As Senate Republican Leader Dennis Hollingsworth said late Tuesday night, now is the time “to end the cycle of permanent budget crises, make government work efficiently, help create new jobs and change the self-serving culture in Sacramento.”