California tax revolt: Voters crush Schwarzenegger’s budget proposals at the polls

posted at 8:20 am on May 20, 2009 by Allahpundit

Of the six propositions offered, only one passed — the one to freeze pay raises for legislators when the state’s running a deficit — despite Arnold and his allies having outspent critics 10 to 1 in pushing the initiatives. To paraphrase a hip-hop classic, California knows how to tea-party:

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was dealt a crushing defeat as voters rejected a series of ballot initiatives designed to help plug the state’s spiraling budget deficit…

Schwarzenegger had warned that failure of the proposals would leave California grappling with a budget shortfall of around 21.3 billion dollars.

But weary voters were unwilling to heed Schwarzenegger’s deficit warnings and came out broadly against the ballot proposals, by margins of around 60-70 percent to 40-30 percent, local media reported.

The LA Times is naturally upset — with voters:

By rejecting five budget measures, Californians also brought into stark relief the fact that they, too, share blame for the political dysfunction that has brought California to the brink of insolvency…

The results Tuesday fit Californians’ long-standing pattern of demanding what is ultimately irreconcilable, all the more so in an economic downturn: lower taxes and higher spending.

“We all want a free lunch, but unfortunately that doesn’t exist,” said former Gov. Gray Davis, whose 2003 recall stemmed largely from a budget crisis brought on by the dot-com bust. For decades, Davis said, Californians have been “papering over this fundamental reality that the state has been living beyond its means.”…

The public’s contradictory impulses were laid bare by a recent Field Poll. It found that voters oppose cutbacks in 10 of 12 major categories of state spending, including the biggest, education and healthcare. Yet most voters were unwilling to have their own taxes increased, and they overwhelmingly favored keeping the two-thirds requirement for tax hikes.

As noted by Karl, the same Field Poll showed fully 72 percent of Californians treating this as a chance to send a message to Sacramento that they’re tired of higher spending and higher taxes. In fairness to the Times, though, Mark Steyn has long lamented this same tendency among European and, increasingly, American voters: They love their government goodies even though they manifestly can’t afford them, with the total paralysis here over social security reform the grimmest example. Californians don’t really have to make a hard choice between cutting spending and raising taxes since The One will surely force you and I to bail them out, but per that gruesome Heritage graph illustrating his own deficits over the next decade, the national reckoning’s coming. And given the likelihood that universal health care will pass sometime soon, creating a dependency among the public even more profound than social security, it’s not hard to guess how that choice will go when the time comes to make it. How’s that for a pessimistic thought from your favorite eeyore blogger? In the meantime, your exit question: Republican revival in California next year? Meg Whitman’s got to like the headlines this morning.

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We want healthcare reform. No question about that. We are not interested in the current system.

If by the current system you mean “government price controls and rationing,” you are correct. Health care reform will never come from a government agency. It can only finance benefits by confiscating wealth, leading to misallocation of capital and diminishing returns on the overall economy. It cannot continue to finance the same level of care with shrinking revenues, so it must turn to rationing in order to control costs.

Real reform will come from removing government from the health care industry and allowing for the natural ebb and flow of an unencumbered free market. Free markets always lead to lower prices and more competition. Always.

You might bring up a point about government protection of monopolies. Well here’s a discussion point:

Successful monopolies only exist via government assistance, and monopolies in true free markets are nearly impossible to sustain. Discuss.

TheMightyMonarch on May 20, 2009 at 7:35 PM

TheMightyMonarch on May 20, 2009 at 7:00 PM

I appreciate your respectful tone, but cutting exercise programs isn’t going to save much money on prisons. The things that would work are fewer prisoners and/or a successful challenge to the prison workers union. Neither would happen instantaneously. And both are currently politically infeasible. It’s a lot easier to say “Cut 10%, cut 20%” than to do it. Honestly, I’d be all right with a system to try to let low-risk offenders go early (after all, they’re going to be let out at some point and many sentences are excessive, California having the same fetish with prisons that Texas has with the death penalty). However, it would have to be done carefully, in a manner that wouldn’t address the current crisis in time. Arnold already tried standing up to the guard union, who in turned threatened to recall him. So I’m not sure there’s much give there.

calbear on May 20, 2009 at 7:36 PM

We want healthcare reform. No question about that. We are not interested in the current system.

AnninCA on May 20, 2009 at 7:08 PM

People want health care to be less expensive and less burdensome. They don’t want government-run health care in this country. The minute the Dems do that, they’ll crash on the same rocks as they did in 1993-1994.

Rasmussen did an interesting poll on the subject:

Forty-two percent (42%) of Americans say every one in the United States should have free health care. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 44% disagree.

However, by a two-to-one margin (60% to 27%), Americans reject free health care for all if it means changing their own coverage and joining a program administered by the government. Many surveys, conducted over many years have found a similar unwillingness to support any program that requires a change in coverage. Last December, 58% opposed any kind of government-controlled health plan if it meant they had to change their own insurance coverage.

In other words, government health care for thee, but not for me. I’d rather pay.

ddrintn on May 20, 2009 at 7:43 PM

Voters crush Schwarzenegger’s budget proposals at the polls

Yes we could! And did.

baldilocks on May 20, 2009 at 7:43 PM

Just make the illegal aliens ineligible for most benefits, and most of the CA budget problem is fixed.

Right_of_Attila on May 20, 2009 at 8:27 AM

We tried that.

I find it very hard to fell sorry for anyone in California. They are victims of the circumstances they created. Maybe I should say, victims of the circumstances they voted for.

milwife88 on May 20, 2009 at 8:53 AM

Not quite, but I’ll what other Californians have said to you in response, if anything.

baldilocks on May 20, 2009 at 7:51 PM

I’ll what=I’ll read what

baldilocks on May 20, 2009 at 7:51 PM

Open note to all who have wondered aloud why any of us stay in California,

How many of you had the satisfaction of flipping the voter bird to your elected officials yesterday? I tell you what, that was satisfying. Believe me, they tried every form of manipulation just this side of holding a gun to our heads – that would be real irony – few strings left unpulled all along the lines of babies will die if you don’t vote for this mess. Add to that the visceral pleasure of reminding my colleagues that they are the ones who got the current crop of loser legislators elected, so this BS in in their lap. I was the only one smiling today.

InTheBellyoftheBeast on May 20, 2009 at 8:26 PM

Why does my health coverage have to pay $30 for a Tylenol at the hospital? COST SHIFTING, that’s why. $29 goes to offset the bill of an “inner city” gunshot victim who will surly walk away from his bill, but my health insurance pays and pays. He has universal health care and I’m paying for. And now I am being told that I should pay taxes on this luxury that has for my entire working life been covering his deadbeat ass as well!

Pole-Cat on May 20, 2009 at 9:18 PM

The things that would work are fewer prisoners and/or a successful challenge to the prison workers union.

The first would probably be best achieved by eliminating prison time for victimless crimes. Violent criminals? Look at what breeds them (poverty exacerbated by the welfare state, single parenthood, failing schools, illegal immigration) and you’ll quickly see which aspects the state government is complicit in. It would be a generational affair but doable.

Now would be the best time for the governor to make a stand against state unions. They’re not going to recall him with a year and a half left on his term. If I were him I’d fight a losing battle, make the Democrats show their true colors as obstructionists and in the pockets of the unions, and go out on a good note.

California having the same fetish with prisons that Texas has with the death penalty)

I wouldn’t say fetish. One half of voters support government policies that encourage criminal behavior and the other half want tough penalties for criminals. Add to that a legal system that allows criminals to sue for rights to cable TV, weights, basketball courts and specialized diets and we end up with a large prison population of criminals that get better treatment than many school kids.

It’s a depressing situation, especially since the changes required will take decades to fix, and a state legislature that has absolutely no clue and is desperately trying to preserve the status quo.

TheMightyMonarch on May 20, 2009 at 9:38 PM

Is there a single state firmly in the pocket of the Peoples Socialist Party that is solvent??? NY…broke, NJ…Broke, Mass…broke, Michigan…broke….see the pattern here. Now these idiots want to run the whole country into the ground. High taxes…empty treasury! Congradulations to the folks in California for saying NO, now decide on your cuts and get on with it. Don’t expect a state like Texas with low taxes, no income tax and a 12B surplus to bail you out.

WAKE UP!!!!!!

JohnD9207 on May 20, 2009 at 10:08 PM

Will the members of Calif Teachers Union along with the NEA Union goon squad please take a flying leap off the nearest bridge. Much appreciated.

Geochelone on May 20, 2009 at 10:40 PM

The LA teachers’ union is already threatening to strike if they have to take any furlough days. Get a clue! I worked for the state in 92 and took 1 furlough day a month. It’s no big deal. I can’t believe these leaches–most of the rank and file want to give furlough days but the union won’t agree to it.

PattyJ on May 21, 2009 at 1:37 AM

Now that we’ve made a good start I’d also put in a law that restricts elected official’s pay if they vote for a tax increase, vote to cut law enforcement services (CHP and Prisons), vote to increase the size of government in any way, or run a deficit. Once and they’re cut off for the year from ALL government funds for running their offices, their pay, and their per diem for a year. After a second time they get all that cut off as long as and any time they are an elected official for any position within the State of California.

Then I’d make sure the musical chairs government we have cannot double dip in various pension plans. They get the smallest of all plans for which they qualify, until the State has a balanced budget on less income than 5% of the state’s GDP.

Hey, I can dream, can’t I?


herself on May 21, 2009 at 3:48 AM

the changes required will take decades to fix

My point precisely. The budget won’t wait that long.

calbear on May 21, 2009 at 12:58 PM

Hospitals have been making money off of ER like mad, polecat.

It’s the other services that are sucking up the dollars.

AnninCA on May 21, 2009 at 2:31 PM

This just in…according to KOGO radio in San Diego, Secretary of State, Debra Bowen has just qualified the petition signatures, Ahnald Schwartzenkennedy will face a recall election, the election is ON! I hope someone runs against Da Terminated other than an alcoholic porn star and a midget-ex child actor.
Now if Bowen will just qualify the petitions to recall Boxer, Feinstein and 1/2 of the State’s Legislature.
As for Ahnald….Don’t let the door his you on the ass on your way out you pansy fraud.

nelsonknows on May 21, 2009 at 3:09 PM

Hospitals have been making money off of ER like mad, polecat.

It’s the other services that are sucking up the dollars.

AnninCA on May 21, 2009 at 2:31 PM

WHITTIER — The emergency room at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital lost $3.7 million in the 2002 fiscal year, according to a recently released report from the California Medical Association.

According to the study, the hospital’s emergency room made the list of California’s top 40 money-losing emergency rooms, coming in at No. 31.

“Here and everywhere else, the emergency room is not a money- making department,’ said Todd Salnas, Presbyterian Intercommunity’s outpatient care center administrator.

The hospital’s emergency room, officially called the R.C. Baker Foundational Regional Emergency.

WTF you talking about ?

ColdWarrior57 on May 21, 2009 at 4:19 PM