Sacramento Democrats recognized that taking on the celebrity governor was a fight they would lose. But Mr. Schwarzenegger failed to seize the opportunity. He needed to make entrenched lawmakers an offer: Either work with him on budget and government reform so everyone can have a nice bipartisan bill-signing, or expect a knock-out fight at the polls over a set of ballot initiatives.
Had he done so, he might have gotten some of the good ideas that the state needs — such as setting up a serious rainy-day fund and creating an honest spending cap — enacted into law.
Would the Democrats who control California’s legislature have rolled over that easily? We’ll never know, but the threat of taking the issue to the voters is how the governor got workers’ compensation reform through the legislature within six months of taking office.