Let It Burn

Sorry California, but the rest of us are tired of your BS:

A smattering of California voters on Tuesday soundly rejected five ballot measures designed to keep the state solvent through the rest of the year.

The results dealt a severe setback to the state’s fragile fiscal structure and to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state legislators who cobbled together the measures as part of a last-minute budget deal passed in February.

The measures, which would have prolonged tax increases, capped state spending, earmarked money for education and involved the state in a complex borrowing scheme against its lottery, were rejected by roughly 60 percent of those who voted. The failure of the measures, combined with falling revenues since the state passed its budget, leaves California with a $21 billion new hole to fill, while foreclosure rates and unemployment remain vexing problems here.

“Tonight we have heard from the voters, and I respect the will of the people who are frustrated with the dysfunction in our budget system,” Governor. Schwarzenegger said in a prepared statement. “Now we must move forward from this point to begin to address our fiscal crisis with constructive solutions,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said.

You are a state DOMINATED by Democrats, yet plague us all with the craziest Republicans in the country in Congress, you are lagging behind Iowa in terms of civil rights, and you consistently refuse to outvote the smattering of fanatical anti-tax Republicans who show up to vote down any ballot initiative to balance your budget. Can anyone give me reasons I should feel sympathy?

Right now I tend to agree with McMegan:

There is a surprisingly sizeable blogger contingent arguing that we have to bail them out because however regrettable the events that lead here, we now have no choice. But actually, we do have a choice: we could let them go bankrupt. And we probably should.

I am not under the illusion that this will be fun. For starters, the rest of you sitting smugly out there in your snug homes, preparing to enjoy the spectacle, should prepare to enjoy the higher taxes you’re going to pay as a result. Your states and municipalities will pay higher interest on their bonds if California is allowed to default. Also, the default is going to result in a great deal of personal misery, more than a little of which is going to end up on the books of Federal unemployment insurance and other such programs.

Nothing is going to change until they bottom out.

*** Update ***

Good comments, although a lot of you say I am full of it and don’t understand anything. Here is what I think I understand- your budget grows every year yet it is never enough, you have a fanatical group of Republicans who gum up the budgetary process, but your legislature is so gerrymandered and the 2/3 vote required for tax issues makes it possible to change anything, all the while many of the Democrats are also happy with nothing changing because they are in safely gerrymandered seats and completely beholden to union interests. Is that close?

Sounds like the only thing that can be done is to burn the government to the ground and rebuild.

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286 replies
  1. 1
    El Cid says:

    Maybe the state’s voters are just hoping for a magic federal bailout.

  2. 2
    Wilson Heath says:

    Anyone care to sing along to a chorus of California Uber Alles?

  3. 3
    4tehlulz says:

    Legalize the herb and tax it.

  4. 4
    Dork says:

    Geologists say they’ll be San Andreas’d into the big blue a matter of years anyways….no need to balance a budget if the state is covered in rubble.

  5. 5
    greynoldsct00 says:

    They are not quite as Dem as you think… lots of R’s in the high rent districts like Orange County…

  6. 6
    shirt says:

    I’m not sure sympathy is what we need. This is a state held hostage by a minority. Props 1A-1E attempted to roll back other ballot measures passed by the majority to force spending in key areas: schools, health care for the young, mental health care, etc.. 1F is an attempt to extend the power of that wingnut minority.

    The very least you can do is hold this state up as an example of how not to do it — a complete failure of the revolting reagan revolution.

  7. 7

    The ballot initiative might be one of the worst ideas ever. Why the hell bother with having a legislature at all? Jesus, just hire a few clerks to process the initiatives and present them for the public to vote. Any state with ballot initiatives should get exactly what they ask for when the voters give a thumbs up or thumbs down. California is so large that if one side is poorly organized or doesn’t find the right message you lose. In effect you often have a very effective, but small minority, winning the day. So be it. If that’s how they want to roll I say let them. Just don’t come begging at the trough in DC when it becomes obvious you’re going down in flames because you didn’t get your shit together.

  8. 8
    Jason F says:

    I know next to nothing about California politics, but I wonder if we are marching inexorably toward a constitutional convention that will eliminate the state’s screwy ballot initiatives?

  9. 9
    John Cole says:

    You know what, the ballot initiative may be a bad idea. But that doesn’t excuse all the folks who refuse to go vote their interests and allow themselves to be held captive by a fanatical minority.

    Californians had a chance to vote yesterday, and they did. They voted for bankruptcy. How many of you are from California and chose not to vote yesterday?

  10. 10
    zzyzx says:

    It’s one of these west coast states, liberal along the coast, conservative inland. Plus CA has those 300 miles from SF to the OR line which are not liberal in any sense of the word. Throw in Orange County and it’s not that surprising that there are wackheads that ruin the whole thing.

    But yeah, the state is so screwed up. It’s why the initiative process isn’t always such a great thing.

    …also it’s why, despite loving the state, I will never ever live in California. They really need to scrap their constitution and start over, but the same forces that prevent anything good from happening there will also probably mess that up.

  11. 11
    someguy says:

    The state may be dominated by Democrats but the state level agenda has been controlled by Republicans since the *Governor* Reagan era in the early 60’s – and need I point out a Republican has been running the state for the last 6 years. The congressional delegation, for what it’s worth, is only 34:20 in favor of Democrats, reflecting the fact that there’s still enough of a Republican minority among the voters to stand in the way of most worthwhile initiatives, plus a lot of the Democrats are actually pretty conservative, which is another sticking point to implementing progressive policies.

  12. 12

    California voters: cutting off their noses to spite their faces since Prop. 13.

    The ballot initiative, i agree, is a stupid idea. So is the super-majority to pass a budget crap they have going on over there.

    California could be the next “Too-big-to-fail” phenomenon.

  13. 13

    @zzyzx:

    It’s one of these west coast states, liberal along the coast, conservative inland. Plus CA has those 300 miles from SF to the OR line which are not liberal in any sense of the word. Throw in Orange County and it’s not that surprising that there are wackheads that ruin the whole thing.

    Why isn’t Gavin Newsome talking secession like Gov. goodhair in Texas?

  14. 14
    JGabriel says:

    McArdle:

    There is a surprisingly sizeable blogger contingent arguing that we have to bail them out because however regrettable the events that lead here, we now have no choice. But actually, we do have a choice: we could let them go bankrupt. And we probably should.

    John, if Jane Galt says it, it’s almost guaranteed to be wrong.

    Which means Cali joins Citi, AIG, Morgan Chase, et. al., as one of the entities that get to rip off the rest of America by virtue (vice?) of being “too big to fail”.

    .

  15. 15
    zzyzx says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Why isn’t Gavin Newsome talking secession like Gov. goodhair in Texas?

    You know, I’m a pretty big fan of the concept of Cascadia – taking the West Coast west of the Cascades from San Jose north and merging it with BC to become a separate country. We’d have Apple and Microsoft and Intel and Boeing. That would be a pretty good tax base.

  16. 16
    TCG says:

    It is the initiative process in part that is at blame.

    Voters set spending and tax priorities by initiative at the ballot, which presents conflicts and restrict the legislature’s ability to manage the budget, especially in tough times.

    When cuts need to occur or budget priorities realign, the legislators don’t the flexibility they need to raise funds and reallocate resources.

  17. 17
    John Harrold says:

    ..you consistently refuse to outvote the smattering of fanatical anti-tax Republicans who show up to vote down any ballot initiative to balance your budget. Can anyone give me reasons I should feel sympathy?

    I think you’re inherent assumption here may be flawed. It is a state full of democrats. If the ballot measure failed by 60% against, then there has to be quite a few anti-tax democrats there as well. Basically people want government services without having to pay for them.

  18. 18
    Scruffy McSnufflepuss says:

    Isn’t this why Plato warned about pure democracy in the Republic? That it devolves into anarchy, and rule by the whims of the moment?

    Not sure I agree with the rest of what Plato had to say, but California’s making me think he may have had a point on this particular score.

  19. 19
    zzyzx says:

    @John Harrold: yep exactly.

    Do we want lower taxes? Sure!

    Do we want better services? Damn straight!

    No debt? Of course!

    Wait? This isn’t working? Well why don’t we cut all of that government waste that they keep talking about? Surely that will solve the problem!

  20. 20
    J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford says:

    You are a state DOMINATED by Democrats, yet plague us all with the craziest Republicans in the country in Congress, you are lagging behind Iowa in terms of civil rights, and you consistently refuse to outvote the smattering of fanatical anti-tax Republicans who show up to vote down any ballot initiative to balance your budget. Can anyone give me reasons I should feel sympathy?

    Shanna, they bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say, let ’em crash.

  21. 21
    BDeevDad says:

    Fine. Let us fail, but give us our damn tax money back as we are always paying more than other states. Also, half the dem politicians have their heads so far up their ass they can only vote how the teacher and prison guards tell them.

  22. 22
    DZ says:

    @ZZYZX:

    I live in Portland. Beervana in the Forest Republic of Cascadia

  23. 23
    anonymous says:

    Can I just say that as a new California voter, this stuff is beyond confusing. I got my ballot early (I vote absentee) so I had some time to study the initiatives. I am a busy parent not a full-time legislator and figuring out the fiscal impact of redirecting funds from previous ballot initiatives is byzantine. On the radio you have ads from variously named interest groups telling us to do one thing, Rob Reiner has a group arguing against what he says will be cuts in mental healthcare for kids etc etc.
    As voters, we have to figure out who is behind these initiatives and ads as well as understand long and short term state budget policy in order to make some kind of educated decision here. I think at some point state voters have just given up in hopes that there governor and elected legislators will do their freakin jobs.

  24. 24
    Max says:

    As an Oakland resident, and voter, I have to say that moving here 3 years ago (from Florida) was a shock to my system. Payroll taxes are near the highest in the land. My company is a large, national company and on nearly every employment policy, there is a caveat of “except in California”.

    I’m not sure the state sponsored items like disability insurance and workers comp are the way to go. I had to use STD and while I have insurance thru my company, the whole matter was complicated by the fact that I had to use the State’s money first before my company’s insurer kicked in. Most states, STD would be covered by the company insurer at 100%. But, maybe I should be glad I have STD with my benefits and should be happy to pay nearly 10% in state payroll taxes.

  25. 25
    TR says:

    Between California’s stupidity and Texas’s secessionist fantasies, I think it’s about time to return all the land we took from Mexico.

    Actually, maybe we should give the Louisiana Purchase lands back to France while we’re at it. I’d love to see the look on Jeff Sessions’ cud-chewing mug when he finds out he’s now a Frenchie.

  26. 26
    Woody says:

    They are not quite as Dem as you think… lots of R’s in the high rent districts like Orange County…

    To say nothing at all of everybody living east of the Coastal Range…

    California’s initiative system is a case-study in how the best-intended, populist causes can be fucked up. It also handily illustrates the utter folly of even imaging an electronic, plebiscitary “democracy.”

  27. 27
    MattF says:

    As a matter of fact, I doubt that municipal bonds in states that have rational fiscal policies will be damaged by a California default. More likely is a ‘flight to safety’– the demand for ‘good’ munis will go up, which will increase their price and consequently lower their rates.

    One relevant data point here is that my Maryland munis (which are highly rated) are now priced higher than they were before the credit crisis.

  28. 28
    cleek says:

    Two states.
    We want two states.
    North and south.
    Two. Two states.

    40 million daggers!

  29. 29
    joes527 says:

    Why are you railing against anti-tax fanaticism after yesterday’s election?

    Not one of the propositions would have honestly addressed the problem.

    Each and every one was a trick — to borrow money that really wasn’t there to start with.

    The propositions were a disaster, not a step toward fiscal responsibility (and yes, by fiscal responsibility I mean we need to raise more revenue)

    Anti-tax fanaticism *is* one of the things strangling California, but that wasn’t what yesterday’s election was about at all.

  30. 30
    omen says:

    i didn’t spot any this time around, but typically, people get deceptive voter guides in the mail fraudulently masquerading as coming from the state democratic party. old people not hip to the game, fooled by official looking literature, end up voting against their own interests. one proposition in particular that stuck in my craw, that won last election cycle, ended up favoring big oil.

  31. 31
    Mike P says:

    Live in NYC, have an absentee ballot in CA and had my girlfriend drop it off after she flew back from the Big Apple yesterday. That’s dedication.

    And, oh yeah, the prop/ref. system in Cali needs to go.

  32. 32
    coffeegirl says:

    I’m a Californian and I voted yesterday.

    I voted a straight “no” ticket to send a message to my “Legislators” (D & R) that they need to get off their asses and do the job we elected them to do. It pisses me off to no end that they get paid to make the very hard decisions–including raising taxes and cutting services–and then they just in essense say (auraulize the voice of Neil from the “Young Ones” here):

    “Oh wow. That’s heavy, man. You voters decide…..”

    And frankly? The difference between $21B in debt and $16B in debt? Meaningless when there is no real reform to go along with either scenario.

    I will be working my ass off to overturn the 2/3ds majority vote needed to pass a budget.

  33. 33
    Pender says:

    Screw it; let them go bankrupt. There is no reason state bonds should have the full faith and credit of the Federal Government. If they did, they’d be pointless; we’d just let the state borrow from the Fed at the prevailing Treasury rates and let investors buy more Treasuries.

    Direct democracy is a joke. Rational apathy is a hard enough problem to overcome when voters are asked to vote on only a couple of candidates every couple of years. Going line-by-line down a series of initiatives several times a year is a transparently stupid idea, and this is the obvious and predictable result. Californians are the only ones who can vote on their initiatives or constitutional amendments; I don’t see why the rest of us should have to pay for the consequences.

    The place is a goddamn mess. Rolling back civil rights, complete economic dysfunction, and voters who won’t vote to save their own asses, perhaps in the expectation that the rest of the country would ride to their rescue. Screw ’em.

  34. 34
    omen says:

    @joes527:

    it’s frustration that stems from his own state being too often the butt of jokes.

  35. 35
    JGabriel says:

    @cleek: Ha! The same song occurred to me too.

    Now that California’s too big to fail, can’t we break it up? Just think of all the new Democratic Senators we could get!

    .

  36. 36
    atlliberal says:

    Maybe Gray Davis should start a recall petition to remove Arnold from office since he screwed up the budget so badly.

  37. 37
    ppcli says:

    Between California’s stupidity and Texas’s secessionist fantasies, I think it’s about time to return all the land we took from Mexico.

    While we’re at it, let’s give Alaska back to the Russians. Just make sure we keep all the unpopulated bits with all the oil.

  38. 38
    John Cole says:

    @coffeegirl: Yeah. I’m sure that is the message they are going to get.

    /Rolls eyes

  39. 39
    Douche Baggins says:

    zzyzx @ 19:

    Cue Homer Simpson’s (California Golden) bear patrol video in 4, 3, 2…

    Srsly, I drove out of California on February 10, after 20 years in Silicon Valley, and the NPR doom’n’gloom stories about CA’s financial woes were like the play-by-play of the tsunami o’ trouble that propelled me up the Sierras and over the Continental Divide. BFD, so I can’t ride my bike to the Pacific anymore; I’ll manage.

  40. 40
    Zifnab says:

    @joes527:

    The propositions were a disaster, not a step toward fiscal responsibility (and yes, by fiscal responsibility I mean we need to raise more revenue)

    Which is funny, because at this stage in the game you’d think someone would be proposing actual, functional budget resolutions that would – you know – work.

    No one wants to make the hard choices, because that would be politically unfeasible. This is the problem with an irresponsible Democracy. You don’t get the government you need, you get the government you ask for. One way or another, California is going to have to grow up and take responsibility for its own destiny, because there is no one else who can do it.

    If the federal government steps in to bail them out, you can bet your bottom dollar that Obama will demand reforms. And that will provoke epic amounts of bitching on all fronts. I’d say it’ll turn into an ugly ugly mess if it wasn’t already an ugly ugly mess.

  41. 41
    omen says:

    @ppcli:

    i’d rather give it back to native americans.

  42. 42
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    There are people who I know in California. One speaks of a neighbor who manages some sort of fish on behalf of the state for six figures, another neighbor fights fires on behalf of the California people for a similar paycheck. There are also the retired ones.

    The lady who got engaged on the motorcycle last night, I also know her father, who is a self-employed electrician. Ironically we talked yesterday during the day. His shop is down from 20+ people to one, him and this one are each down to around 15 hours per week. We discussed the mechanics of obtaining unemployment benefits.

    Benjamin Franklin wrote an excellent paper on the nature of money in 1729, two generations before the revolution. In it, he argued that there was intrinsic value in three things; land, labor, and precious metals. Silver in England had been depreciated because of colonial gatherings, very similar to the depreciations that are taking place right now with our printing presses, as Franklin wrote. At least the English had the balls to go take someone’s silver. What a bunch of weasels this Obama-Geithner-Orszag-Goldman Sachs crew is.

    Anyway, with respect to the value of Franklin’s labor, the market states that the value of a Hispanic male laborer in Central America is $3/day. This individual likely creates more value than my friend’s neighbor who manages fish.

  43. 43
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    You are a state DOMINATED by Democrats…

    Just as the U.S. Senate is dominated by Democrats. Look how well that’s working out. Anything to do with money has to have a super majority to pass and in a state that’s been gerrymandered into safe seats for all there’s no disincentive for intransigence on budget issues.
    The reason I voted against the props yesterday is that I am fed up to the teeth with our utterly dysfunctional state legislature’s budget antics. Not just this year but every year they resolutely ignore the fact that Revenue=X and Expenses=Y and that you can’t get X=Y without adjusting either or both. Now they can either cut spending and let the people see just what happens when you want extensive services without paying for them or they can raise revenues. I don’t want a bailout, I want the Reagan/Norquist/Jarvis/Gann idiocy to stop.

  44. 44
    Left Coast Tom says:

    @joes527:

    Each and every one was a trick—to borrow money that really wasn’t there to start with.

    The propositions were a disaster, not a step toward fiscal responsibility (and yes, by fiscal responsibility I mean we need to raise more revenue)

    We’re not going to get much else with a 2/3 legislative requirement to pass a budget. Both houses of the legislature are over 60% D and that still isn’t enough.

  45. 45
    sugarfree says:

    As far as I can tell, California’s budget problems stem from:

    Ballot initiatives lock up a majority of the budget in mandatory spending and hamstring lawmaker ability to raise taxes.
    Gerrymandered districts.
    Super-majority required to pass the budget so the entrenched minority holds the whole process hostage.

    That said, a government bailout may be the solution… if it’s used a leverage to force everyone to make drastic changes to the process.

  46. 46
    4tehlulz says:

    >>I am not under the illusion that this will be fun.

    Yes, allowing the seventh-largest economy on Earth to BK would not be fun. Ask any Russian or Argentinian how little fun when their economies imploded. Larger unemployment rolls will be the least of America’s problems.

    Fuck you California. Fuck you.

  47. 47
    Olly McPherson says:

    In terms of governance, California is a suicide pact. A big proportion of state spending is dictated by propositions, and nobody’s willing to fund essential services.

  48. 48
    El Cid says:

    Why can’t Californians just pass a magic ballot initiative that says that everything they want won’t cost anything?

  49. 49
    Andrew J. Lazarus says:

    I voted no across the board. These were temporary fixes instead of permanent repeal of stupidities. About the only permanent component was a stupid-squared spending cap.

    The reality check is coming.

  50. 50
    Chuck B. says:

    The choice wasn’t pass these measures or the state goes insolvent. Even if they’d all passed, there still would have been a roughly 16 billion dollar deficit to deal with. I voted no on all the measures because I thought they were bad legislation that didn’t really address the problems and had a huge potential to create more problems down the road.

  51. 51
    Roger Moore says:

    @John Cole:

    How many of you are from California and chose not to vote yesterday?

    I’m from California, but I voted to try to fix the mess. The problem, though, is that there’s a little voice of doubt in my mind that says it may not have been the right thing to do. The California Constitution has been amended so many times, it’s now like a piece of clothing that’s more patches than original cloth. We’ve got patches on patches on patches, and I have to wonder if we can get anywhere by putting on a few more. That voice is asking me if it might not have been a better idea to let the system crash so that we have to throw the old Constitution out and start over. I’m sure I’m not the only one, and I bet that some of those “NO” votes were other people who had the same thought but acted on it.

  52. 52
    ksmiami says:

    Most likely, the governor is going to have to shut down everything and bring CA to its knees and then have everyone rescind the stupid super majority rules. Don’t discount CA though, it will survive as rumours of its demise are slightly exaggerated. My only comment though as someone who always voted no on every ballot initiative is as much as I like my neighbors and the little granny down the street, I don’t want them writing legislation

  53. 53

    Nothing is going to change until they bottom out.

    Funny, some folks have been saying exactly the same thing about a much larger entity than California. I’m just sayin…

  54. 54
    Robert Johnston says:

    It is time for the courts to revive the Republican Guarantee clause of the Federal Constitution and rule that California’s system of government by ballot initiative is unconstitutional. Ballot initiatives, if allowed, should be just like any other law, subject to override by the normal legislative process. Legislators would still be highly reluctant to override popular measures, but they wouldn’t face absurd hurdles in a crisis.

  55. 55

    John Cole, a couple of things already touched on:

    1.) California always sends more money to Washington, D.C. than ever comes back here, so any talk of a federal bailout is ludicrous, unless you’re talking about Californians bailing out Mississippi and South Carolina via D.C.

    2.) The propositions on the ballot were bad. They would have taken away money targeted for specific things, like schools and children and mental health, and put them into the general fund.

    3.) The propositions were put together in the most ghastly Sacramento sausage-making fiasco, with the slightly more than one-third of the legislature (the rump of the Republican Party remaining in the state) calling the tune.

    4.) The propositions were opposed by both the right-wing extremists who don’t believe in government or taxes and the progressives who didn’t want to balance the budget on the backs of the mentally ill and children.

    5.) The real problem is that Proposition 13 and other similar laws have slowly bankrupted California by not allowing a realistic tax policy to be constructed. California needs a 2/3 vote to raise taxes and a 2/3 vote to pass a budget. With the remaining Republicans so dogmatic that they’d force the State of Cal to go Galt before raising a penny in taxes it gives them incredible power over the process.

    6.) Our governor, who was in bed with Enron when Enron was bankrupting our state at the beginning of the decade, has used our crisis to the advantage of his political backers. Drill, baby, drill. He has no credibility with either the Dems or Reps anymore. He can sit in the governor’s mansion and watch the state burn this summer.

    7.) The low turnout was a matter of disgust on the part of the citizenry. There was no doubt that these propositions were going to fail. The only reason to vote for them was if you were afraid of what would happen without them. Fear only goes so far.

    As another poster put it, California should be a cautionary tale for the rest of the country for what happens when a crazy minority controls the power of the government. Sort of like what’s happening in Washington.

  56. 56
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    The California Constitution has been amended so many times, it’s now like a piece of clothing that’s more patches than original cloth.

    The California Constitution has been amended or revised more than 500 times. It is now 157 pages. A constitutional convention is overdue.

  57. 57
    Punchy says:

    Cant some of this mess be attributed to what must be plummeting property tax rev shortfalls? I mean….the state MUST have made a killing during the housing bubble on personal property taxes, no? WTF did they do with all that scratch? Why the hell wasn’t some of that stashed away?

  58. 58
    ppcli says:

    Why can’t Californians just pass a magic ballot initiative that says that everything they want won’t cost anything?

    Well, since core wingnut doctrine is that cutting taxes increases revenue, perhaps they can cut taxes to zero, which will increase revenues to… well, to infinity! Limitless riches!

  59. 59
    Screamin' Demon says:

    Fine. Let us fail, but give us our damn tax money back as we are always paying more than other states

    You pay more, do you? I must not have noticed the line on the 1040 where it says “If you are a California resident, multiply the amount of tax you owe by 2.”

  60. 60
    Jose C says:

    It isn’t just the Republicans in California that are bat shit crazy, although we do produce a very high quality Republican lunatic.

    The tax structure is tilted so heavily towards taxing the high end that the vast majority of the middle and lower classes (<$65K family income) don’t pay a penny in state income taxes, just sales taxes – the most regressive form of tax period. If this thing alone was fixed, we could avoid cratering the budget every time the stock option income from the computer guys goes away in a downturn. But the Democrats won’t let that happen.

    The Democrats are beholden to a corrupt and self serving public employee union base they are unwilling to take on, prime among them the teachers and the CCPOA. As a result people don’t trust the government when they say there are financial problems and letting state employees go is going to release Charles Manson or some such.

    Reform attempts can never even get off the ground in the legislature – dominated by Democrats.

    There’s lots of blame to go around. Blaming only the Republicans is a cheap, intellectually lazy out. I have come to the conclusion after living there for over a quarter of a century that nothing will really get fixed until it craters. Let it burn may not be a bad solution – although as one of the earlier commenters pointed out, this has the kind of repercussions that extend far beyond California.

  61. 61
    joes527 says:

    @Zifnab:

    Which is funny, because at this stage in the game you’d think someone would be proposing actual, functional budget resolutions that would – you know – work.

    We have a nominally Republican Governor : Ahrnohld (RINO)

    We have a Democratic led legislature.

    It requires a 2/3 vote to pass a budget.

    It requires 50% + 1 popular vote to amend the constitution.

    Does this to you like a recipe for sound government?

  62. 62

    El Cid wrote: “Why can’t Californians just pass a magic ballot initiative that says that everything they want won’t cost anything?”

    We did. It’s called Proposition 13. How’s it working?

  63. 63
    Left Coast Tom says:

    @ksmiami:

    Most likely, the governor is going to have to shut down everything and bring CA to its knees and then have everyone rescind the stupid super majority rules.

    Only if he switches parties first. The California GOP already hates him, if he pushed to rescind the 2/3 rules they’d hold an emergency meeting to rename him Arnold Che Guevara Schwarzenegger.

  64. 64
    Morbo says:

    There is a surprisingly sizeable blogger contingent arguing that we have to bail them out because however regrettable the events that lead here, we now have no choice.

    And yet she can’t be bothered to name a single one, hmmm. This likely means that a) she’s too lazy to find any, or b) they don’t actually exist. It’s a tough call with her, incompetence and mendacity have about equal odds.

    McArdle bashing aside, Irvine Housing Blog erases all sympathy I might feel for this state. His HELOC abuse posts shocked my sensibilities pretty hard at first, but after a year or so of reading it there’s not a whole lot that’s surprising anymore. Kool-aid is a pretty strong intoxicant; rehab is going to be rough.

    Also, let it drown instead.

  65. 65

    California is too big to fail!

  66. 66
    joes527 says:

    @Left Coast Tom:

    Only if he switches parties first. The California GOP already hates him, if he pushed to rescind the 2/3 rules they’d hold an emergency meeting to rename him Arnold Che Guevara Schwarzenegger.

    Isn’t it amazing. Just a few short years ago, they were promoting an amendment to the US constitution, so that he could be the President.

  67. 67
    Comrade Dread says:

    What’s wrong with the state is that people:

    1. Have the power to vote on billions of dollars of obligations and mandatory spending every election which is driven by interest groups that don’t care about the fiscal health of the State. These spending measures are usually wrapped up in all sorts of noble sounding goals and people don’t have the time or inclination to do research on the fiscal effects. Most of these measures are bonds that defer the costs of a project (meaning no direct tax increase), but lock in even more mandatory spending for years to come.

    2. We have Republicans who are completely in the tank for big business and Democrats who are completely in the tank for public employee unions. These “Representatives”, thanks to gerrymandered districts, are often the most fanatical and partisan of their respective parties and have no incentive to cooperate with people from the other party that they despise.

    3. Politicians regularly hand out money and favors to groups knowing that the true cost of such ‘generosity’ will only hit the state long after they’ve been personally termed out. (e.g. car tax reduction; public employee pension laws)

    I could go on, but seriously, this state, it’s government, and its constitution are completely screwed up and no one has the will or the desire to enact change.

    I think, at this point, state residents would probably welcome a Federal bankruptcy judge or judges to come in and force change.

  68. 68
    Zifnab says:

    @joes527: Well, no.

    At this stage of the game, however, you only have two options. Raise taxes or cut services. Odds are on that you’ll need to exercise both. Politically, it seems you don’t really have the choice of either.

    Currently, it’s a lot easier to cut services than raise taxes (thanks Republi-dicks!), but that doesn’t mean the tax-raising won’t start looming as an attractive alternative in the future. If the economy crumbles and the GOP is forced to Go Galt in California as rich-folk districts descend disastrously close to the middle class, I can see sentiment turning. But that won’t happen until the state bottoms out.

    So eventually the 50% + 1 or the 2/3rds of the legislature are going to have to cave to economic necessity. It’s just that, at this stage of the game, I was hoping I’d see the rays of sun shine on the horizon. Instead, ballot resolutions like these just seem to suggest 40 more days of night.

  69. 69
    Left Coast Tom says:

    @joes527:

    Isn’t it amazing. Just a few short years ago, they were promoting an amendment to the US constitution, so that he could be the President.

    Yes, I remember Hatch (R-UT) being one of the backers. That was before Hatch became insufficiently pure for the wingnuts.

    Now the California GOP picks it’s legislative “leaders” based explicitly upon their opposition to their own governor.

  70. 70
    shirt says:

    @punchy: yep some of it can. But if california got back 100% of every fed dolar it sent to washington there would not be any tax issue at all. Time to give the loser states back to the indians (just kidding!)

    Regarding the flawed balot initiative process: These ballots were placed by the Governator and the state legislature as part of the budget agreement; the initiative process had nothing to do with this.

    To fix the initiative process keep it simple: if you can not vote for it you can not contribute to it. Prop Hate would have never been if that were the case.

  71. 71
    coffeegirl says:

    So, John Cole, voting “yes” on them all would have sent exactly what message to the Legislature? I’ts OK not to do your job, while taking funds from children, the mentally ill, the poor and the elderly?

    At least this way the problem is back in the laps of those we elected (and pay) to deal with it.

    Roll of the eyes right back atcha……

  72. 72

    […] Via John Cole — Megan McArdle writes, There is a surprisingly sizeable blogger contingent arguing that we […]

  73. 73
    guyermo says:

    You are a state DOMINATED by Democrats, yet plague us all with the craziest Republicans in the country in Congress

    has california produced one crazier than Michele Bachmann?

  74. 74
    TR says:

    @cleek:

    As always, Pavement shows us the way.

  75. 75
    joes527 says:

    @sugarfree:

    That said, a government bailout may be the solution… if it’s used a leverage to force everyone to make drastic changes to the process.

    If a bailout could be tied to removal of the 2/3 rule, then that might be the least worst solution.

    A bailout that did not result in structural changes would be the most worst solution.

  76. 76
    Jim C says:

    you are lagging behind Iowa in terms of civil rights

    “They say all native Californians come from Iowa.” – Walter Neff, Double Indemnity (film version)

  77. 77
    Smudgemo says:

    Shit like this makes we want to pull stakes and move somewhere more sensible, but the weather and food here are so good, I’d hate living anywhere else. I’m letting it ride…

  78. 78
    John Cole says:

    @coffeegirl: I’m telling you, the message that was sent by all those failing yesterday was not “Go back to work and do your job.” The message sent was “the voters have no appetite for higher taxes.”

    That being said, I shouldn’t have rolled my eyes, as there really is nothing that can be done.

    I really think this state just needs to fail and start over. Bailing them out will just enable and perpetuate this lunacy.

  79. 79
    Jason says:

    The problem is the ballot initiative system itself. Allowing the public to vote on practically everything paralyzes state government. This system should be abandoned. It’s democracy run amok.

  80. 80
    Mike Mundy says:

    Well, I held my nose and voted yes on all of ’em.

    Except for the lottery prop. Hate the lottery. Always have.

  81. 81
    MikeJ says:

    As always, Pavement shows us the way.

    I need to sleep.

  82. 82
    Roger Moore says:

    @Punchy:

    I mean….the state MUST have made a killing during the housing bubble on personal property taxes, no?

    No, at least not to the same extent that other states did. The major point of Prop 13 was that it (more or less) fixed the assessed value of a property to the last sales price. The biggest change is that property that’s overvalued is allowed to be reassessed to a lower value, but not the other way around. So the only people who paid huge extra tax bills were people who bought during the bubble. Anyone who bought before the bubble saw essentially no change in their property tax.

    The state’s big problem is that Prop 13 made property taxes much too small to fund anything, so we had to raise our income taxes to make up the difference. But income taxes vary much more over the course of a business cycle. During the bubble, revenues went way up, but stupid mandatory spending requirements from previous initiatives forced the legislature to spend most of it on specified programs rather than saving for a rainy day. Now, during the crash, there’s no savings from the good times to fall back on.

  83. 83
    Jose C says:

    Best writeup I’ve seen on a path forward so far today.

    http://calbuzzer.blogspot.com/.....t-now.html

  84. 84
    omen says:

    you are lagging behind Iowa in terms of civil rights

    we were the spark that lit the flame.

  85. 85
    ElCap says:

    Bob in Pacifica:

    +1. Well said friend. I enjoy Cole’s wrantings most of the time, but in this case it’s clear that he is waaaayyyyy out his depth.

    I’m a liberal in SoCal. I vote (mostly) straight Dem tickets. I voted NO on every initiative yesterday. For the reasons several have layed out already.

    And ditto on the “bailout” deal. All you clowns that live in states where you get more in fed tax money than you pay…from all the Californians subsidizing your backwater state: Blow me.

  86. 86
    coffeegirl says:

    John Cole,

    agree (somewhat), agree (somewhat more) and agree (fully)…….

    I take back my eye roll too.

  87. 87
    Ash says:

    I have no idea what all this means in terms of money and what not, but California’s proposition system is one of the stupidest ideas ever conceived.

  88. 88
    Zifnab says:

    @Jason:

    The problem is the ballot initiative system itself. Allowing the public to vote on practically everything paralyzes state government. This system should be abandoned. It’s democracy run amok.

    The state government has done such an excellent job of paralyzing the state government, I can’t see how it would be an improvement. The system they’ve got running is the exact polar opposite of a PAYGO model. They can pass all the resolutions and mandates they want, but they aren’t allowed to actually pay for anything.

    At least if the legislature was allowed to raise taxes, people could justifiably vote said tax-raisers out of office. Instead, you get politicians passing cushy legislation offering incentives or tax cuts, then pointing across the aisle and saying, “It’s the other guy that caused the state to bankrupt!” Zero accountability.

  89. 89
    4tehlulz says:

    The only solution is a ballot initiative to change the ballot initiative process, but only after a ballot initiative to overturn all the other ballot initiatives.

  90. 90
    Zifnab says:

    @Ash: Dude, it wasn’t a stupid idea on paper. Direct democracy, in a more localized system, isn’t a bad idea at all. If California was a 20 person co-op in San Fransisco, direct democracy could work really well. But people wanted to apply a very crude and powerful tool to a very delicate problem. Like doing brain surgery with a chain saw.

    Brain surgery is important.
    Chain saws are useful.
    But together, they make an unholy mess.

    I don’t think direct democracy is something we should shy away from. It’s just something that need substantially more refinement. In many ways, capitalism is the purest reflection of direct democracy we function under, and I hear there are a lot of merits to that system.

  91. 91
    Roger Moore says:

    @John Cole:

    I’m telling you, the message that was sent by all those failing yesterday was not “Go back to work and do your job.” The message sent was “the voters have no appetite for higher taxes.”

    I don’t see how that could have been the message, because that’s not what most of the ballot initiatives were about. Prop 1A was the only one that involved any kind of tax increase, and that was mixed in with a whole bunch of changes to the budget process. The rest of the initiatives were about playing a shell game with current and future revenues to paper over the current massive deficit. I’m sure that the anti-tax crazies will get the message that nobody wants higher taxes, but they’d find some way of getting that message from anything.

  92. 92
    The Moar You Know says:

    I’m telling you, the message that was sent by all those failing yesterday was not “Go back to work and do your job.” The message sent was “the voters have no appetite for higher taxes.”

    Bullshit, John. Every Californian posting here voted the same way yesterday, and I would venture that most of us are not happy about, but very willing to go along with, new taxes. I certainly am. It would hurt but I’d do it.

    I, too, voted “no” on everything yesterday.

    We talk a lot here about the notion of privatizing profit and socializing losses. Occurs to me that more than one BJ reader might be a Cali state legislator (pretty sure BoB is), as that’s what the ballot propoistions were trying to do – give credit to the legislators for the beneficial effects of spending, and place all the blame for new taxes on the voters.

    Well, fuck that. If taxes are to be raised or spending is to be cut (and both are a certainty) then let the goddamned legislature do it and take the blame. That’s why they are there. I confess to having had some qualms about this course of action, as the state DID spend this money and to not pay back money that you owe people makes you a no-good deadbeat fishfucker, but that’s what we’ve come to here in California. Let the fucking no-good legislature do their jobs for once, or let them vacate their seats and turn over all budgetary processes to direct ballot. That would be fun to watch.

    It would cause a worldwide economic crash, but it would be entertaining.

  93. 93
    Comrade Dread says:

    I mean….the state MUST have made a killing during the housing bubble on personal property taxes, no?

    Yeah, to an extent.

    Unfortunately, our myopic leaders bought into the whole “housing prices will never go down, bulls***” and spent that money rather than pay down debt or save it for future recessions.

    And yeah, I think a lot of voters were pissed at having their taxes raised during a recession and they wonder why the state government can’t cut back like they have to.

    Of course, then they’ll probably go out in November of next year and vote in another 20 f***ing bond issues.

  94. 94
    ricky says:

    If we had just left Texas alone to fend with Mexico back in 1845 all of this talk would be moot.

  95. 95
    sloan says:

    Just a quick observation – as a Cali resident of 10 years I’m always shocked by the lack of political reporting at the state level. Our local media is a total joke. There was little or no coverage of this election that I saw on TV or in the papers, and I had to go to the Calitics blog last night to find the election results because none of our local stations were covering it.

    It’s as if the election simply didn’t happen.

    The public is woefully ignorant about their state government and most of the local reporters are clueless and just can’t be bothered to do the hard work of, you know, actual reporting. I would bet that a majority of Californians didn’t even know there was an election yesterday.

    I live in a fanatically anti-tax beach community that is filled with million dollar homes, but the sidewalks are literally 100 years old, the roads are all torn up and ruined and the sewage pipes break on a regular basis spewing human filth onto the beach and make the whole area smell like an outhouse. But nobody wants to spend money to fix this stuff – it’s like they think it’s normal to live like this.

  96. 96
    Left Coast Tom says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    Every Californian posting here voted the same way yesterday, and I would venture that most of us are not happy about, but very willing to go along with, new taxes. I certainly am. It would hurt but I’d do it.

    I voted “yes” on all but 1F, which I thought was childish.

    Roger Moore @51 mentioned voting yes.

  97. 97
    Laura W says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    Occurs to me that more than one BJ reader might be a Cali state legislator (pretty sure BoB is),

    !!??

  98. 98
    kay says:

    I don’t have any qualms about saying I’m not fond of direct democracy, California-ballot initiative style, and you can call me antidemocratic if you want.
    It looks like chaos to me. In the past, I thought maybe voting on issues directly would limit lobbyist influence, but not even that is true. Initiatives have only succeeded in limiting the ability to find out who the lobbyists are.
    The ballot initiatives in my state are worded deceptively and marketed deceptively, and the voting majority back them without any regard for long-term consequences, based completely on the outrage ‘o the day. I have to read them line by line, hundreds of words, and even with a fair amount of thought still can’t predict how they’ll interact with existing law, or what the unintended consequences might be.
    State legislatures are bought and paid for and broken. The solution to that problem can’t be “go around them, whatever the consequences”.

  99. 99

    […] John Cole observes: You are a state DOMINATED by Democrats, yet plague us all with the craziest Republicans […]

  100. 100
    omen says:

    you can’t say there hasn’t been political courage. a few years ago, california legislature did raise taxes on buying a new car, only because the minority republicans blocked every other avenue to raise capital. dems got hit every which way for doing so. the gropernator then repealed the law and undid what the legislature tried to do.

  101. 101
    bartkid says:

    >Maybe Gray Davis should start a recall petition to remove Arnold from office since he screwed up the budget so badly.

    Actually, I was thinking Ahnawld should’ve been in T4 & Christian Bale should have been the one negotiating the budget, given how diplomatic he was on the set.

  102. 102

    “Tonight we have heard from the voters, and I respect the will of the people who are frustrated with the dysfunction in our budget system,” Governor. Schwarzenegger said in a prepared statement. “Now we must move forward from this point to begin to address our fiscal crisis with constructive solutions,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said.

    Personally, if I was in Arnold’s situation, I’d say “You’re idiots. I’m resigning and moving to the East Coast. Good luck sorting it out.” Being the Governer of California must be an extended exercise in Sisyphean frustration.

  103. 103
    flavortext says:

    I voted straight no. I’m not anti-tax or anything, and gladly would have accepted higher taxes to close the budget cap but frankly what was handed to us was a shit sandwhich. Bob in Pacifica made most of the important points, and I’d like to add the stupid spending cap as reason I didn’t vote for 1A (the only prop that raised taxes). I’m no expert or anything, but as a college student I could definitely see higher education getting fucked over under a spending cap. The number of high school grads going to college is growing, the number of spaces in the UC and CSU is not keeping up with that growth, and the UC budget keeps getting slashed, even in good times. They’re raising fees nearly $700 for next year, which means that I will have seen a fee increase in each of my 4 years here, even though two of those years were relatively good economically. Legislators can go screw themselves.

    And WTF, ballot box budgeting? Why can’t the legislature pass tax increases on their own? Why do we have to vote on budget items? California’s government is stupidly insane. Yeah, Californians might like to have their cake without paying for it, but you could say that of all Americans. The difference is our state is structured to make that attitude into law. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

  104. 104
    Evinfuilt says:

    California can’t be fixed till they have a Constitution Convention. If it takes Bankruptcy of that ridiculous scale, so be it.

    They can then try and return the state to being a Representative Democracy instead of Direct. They could have equality built in, not voted in. They could also sever all ties with the past (prison guard union and such) and rebuild. Heck, the right to legal drugs should be there right from the get go.

    Sadly, I think they’ll go Bankrupt and follow the Somalian approach, they are beholden to their wingnut interests.

    This isn’t really the legislature’s fault, but the people. The people who took the power away from the Government to be able to run itself. Of course that was the goal since the Reagen period began.

  105. 105
    omen says:

    @sloan:
    the sewage pipes break on a regular basis spewing human filth onto the beach and make the whole area smell like an outhouse.

    oh, oh, oh, but voters had no problem voting to raising taxes to pay for a brand new ball park. we’ve got sewers busting all over the place, but little spoiled brats masquerading as adults sooo coveted a new sand box instead. they see kids going without healthcare and say “fuck em, i’m only going to pay for what I want.” selfish bastards.

  106. 106
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    I don’t have any qualms about saying I’m not fond of direct democracy, California-ballot initiative style, and you can call me antidemocratic if you want.
    It looks like chaos to me.

    Agreed. It’s a decent idea for a smaller group, but it becomes exponentially worse as it scales up in size.

    I’ve lived in Cali for 10+ years. I love this state, but on the political/government level, it is supremely fucked up. I voted yesterday, but I knew that no matter what the outcome at the polls, the result was going to be bad.

  107. 107
    joes527 says:

    @Roger Moore:

    I don’t see how that could have been the message, because that’s not what most of the ballot initiatives were about. Prop 1A was the only one that involved any kind of tax increase, and that was mixed in with a whole bunch of changes to the budget process. The rest of the initiatives were about playing a shell game with current and future revenues to paper over the current massive deficit. I’m sure that the anti-tax crazies will get the message that nobody wants higher taxes, but they’d find some way of getting that message from anything.

    We have a winner!

    John – please add this comment to the original post because it provides the context that you seem to have missed.

    I’m all in favor of fixing the structural problems in the state and having the legislature do it’s fuggin job, but if there has been a single proposition on the ballot that could not be accurately characterized as a shell game, then I would have been 100% in favor.

    As it was, I voted straight no.

  108. 108
    Don says:

    I mean….the state MUST have made a killing during the housing bubble on personal property taxes, no?

    I dunno about California but I know Florida (which may be watching California for a preview of what their financial situation will be like in 6-12 months) didn’t. There the homestead exemption passed in the 90s capped annual tax increases at 3% a year.

    Fine and good if you’re a taxpayer with a stable living location, but pretty horrible if you’re a state unable to rein in your spending. Now they’ve passed an insane clause allowing homeowners to have a “portable” exemption to allow them to move around and keep this cap, insuring that mortgage brokers, builders, and realtors can line their pockets with the high prices but starve the state even more than they are already.

  109. 109
    chiggins says:

    Which means Cali joins Citi, AIG, Morgan Chase, et. al., as one of the entities that get to rip off the rest of America by virtue (vice?) of being “too big to fail”.

    At least you’re actually getting some revenue out of them, they always pay out more in federal taxes than they take in federal money. Additionally, you’re also getting food, wine, technology, movies (both general audience and adult), and a host of other things you actually want. There’s a helluva lot more coming out of California than a bunch of CDS’s.

    But, you’re right. And in the words of Bernie Sanders: Too big to fail means too big to exist. The ship’s too big to steer, and the needs of Orange County will never align with those of the Bay Area. Break it up into 3-5 states that are actually governable.

  110. 110
    Evinfuilt says:

    @chiggins:
    Break up California and Texas. That would be a great start and seem fair to both sides (Electoral Vote strangleholds of the 2 states, also the Science Book fiasco again caused by both of them.)

    Wow, 2 birds with one well place shotgun blast ;)

  111. 111
    jager says:

    I moved to So Cal during the housing bubble three years ago. Before we moved here (for alot more $$) in MA we had a 3 bedroom home, in nice neighborhood that we had owned for 5 years. We made a few bucks on it and thought we could get a similiar house in CA…no f’ing way. To replace our house we would have had to spend at least 3 times what we spent in MA. I must have looked at 100 houses in the 3 months while I was out here on my own.

    In my neighborhood the houses were all built late 70’s to mid 80’s and originally sold for 250-350k. 3 years ago, most of them were valued at over a million bucks, they have now dropped into the 7’s and 8’s and there are a bunch in foreclosure. This is in an area with a median income of 127k…even with the price drop off, these homes aren’t worth the money, I have neighbors who are so far under water that they are contemplating walking away. We supposedly got a “decent deal” and we can afford our mortgage. We were chided by our real estate agent for buying “well under what we could afford”…she showed me houses that were pushing 2 million when I first starting loooking 3 years ago…

    CA is a fantasy land, the tax structure, the housing and the politics…few people pay attention to much of anything here. The republicans are nuts and the dems are passive…one of my nutty niehbors is still railing about Clinton and Monica and the effect on the children. I love the weather but not much else!

  112. 112
    Shade Tail says:

    Sorry California, but the rest of us are tired of your BS

    ++YOU++ are tired of it?! I have to live here!

    Even the liberals around here are infected with NIMBY bullshit. Just for one thing, everyone is too scared to repeal or amend prop 13 tax codes because they don’t want their personal taxes to get hiked. Mix that in with the current mortgage crisis that is hitting CA as badly as the rest of the country, and you end up with people clinging to the anchor dragging us down.

    And I agree in full with kay regarding state propositions. The whole idea is foolish beyond belief. The idea was originally to get legislation out of the hands of big money and “back” into the hands of the people (as if it had ever been there to begin with), which it utterly failed to do. In fact, it has had the opposite effect, with wealthy shitheads abusing the process for their own gain.

  113. 113
    MikeJ says:

    Break it up into 3-5 states that are actually governable.

    San Francisco, LA, and West Alabama.

  114. 114

    Native Californian here. Lived in the Bay Area, lived in OC, lived in SD. Lived there when Reagan was governor.

    It’s painful to watch the state go through this turmoil. But I don’t see any other way to cure the state of its craziness. I pretty much gave up on CA when it elected Arnold governor. I already lived through one movie star governor, that was enough for me.

    All of that said, once BOB gets here and explains how railroad electrification is the answer, we will be on our way to a solution. Until then, have a nice day.

  115. 115
    joes527 says:

    @Phoenician in a time of Romans:

    Personally, if I was in Arnold’s situation, I’d say “You’re idiots. I’m resigning and moving to the East Coast. Good luck sorting it out.” Being the Governer of California must be an extended exercise in Sisyphean frustration.

    That would be hilarious, seeing that Ahrnohld rode to power on a wave of dissatisfaction with Davis that he couldn’t fix the same mess.

    Arnie sought this position knowing that the situation was ultimately untenable. He smoked his cigars and rode his hummer in the good times, and you are saying that when what goes around comes around, he should just stalk off in a huff.

    The recall of Gray Davis was a piece with what is wrong with California today. The changes that ought to be hard to make (so that they aren’t taken lightly) are easy, and the changes that ought to be easy to make (so business can get done) are hard.

  116. 116
    joes527 says:

    @Evinfuilt:

    Break up California and Texas.

    Be careful what you wish for. Do you really want 2 more Dianne Feinsteins in the senate?

  117. 117
    YellowJournalism says:

    I agree that this is the wake-up call that most Californians need. I would have more sympathy for Shwarzennegar but like another poster said, he basically got into power because Davis was in almost the same mess he currently is in. In fact, I would say it’s a lot worse now.

    OT-I’ve got the View on in the background, and Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Walters are telling Glenn Beck off. It’s hilarious to watch him squirm and hear his voice get whinier and whinier as he tries to defend himself. Walters just asked him if he ever bothers to check facts. She called him an investigative reporter. He replied, “I’m just a commentator!”

  118. 118
    omen says:

    @MikeJ:

    San Francisco, LA, and West Alabama.

    the emergence (infection) of conservatives have been traced back to okies who migrated to california to escape the dust bowl.

  119. 119
    Aaron says:

    On a meta-note,

    I wanted to thank everyone here for the comments. Not living in California, I think I learned more from reading this thread than I ever would have learned from watching the news coverage.

  120. 120

    @omen: It’s Tom Joad’s fault, eh?

  121. 121

    I actually voted yes on 1A, but I get why people might vote no. Right now, the state is ruled by the worst rump of the Republican party, who keep just enough members in the legislature to block any tax increase at all. The only way out is a new constitution, and the only way for that to happen is for the state to hit bottom, which it was going to do either way.

    It sucks, because I wouldn’t have minded the small pain a few years ago that would have prevented a good deal of this; now, of course, huge pain and the same completely UNfunctional government.

  122. 122
    eyelessgame says:

    If the federal government steps in to bail them out, you can bet your bottom dollar that Obama will demand reforms.

    Word. I live here, and I don’t want a bailout unless and until we are required to hold a constitutional convention.

    Primarily, I want it enshrined in our constitution that budgets – spending and revenue – shall be produced by a simple majority of the legislature. (Can be vetoed by the governor, requiring 2/3 to override, of course.)

    Declared not to be changeable by proposition.

    Simple. Majority.

  123. 123
    Comrade Dread says:

    Break up California

    Won’t happen.

    The water rights negotiations alone would be a Herculean task that would dissuade any of our politicians from proposing that.

  124. 124
    Ramalamadingdong says:

    The first, last and only time I voted for a Republican was in the 2003 recall election. The state of the budget was the issue, and I thought if we really need to cut services and restructure, I’ll pick a person who will do it. I voted McClintock, even though I don’t believe in a thing he stands for.

    Instead we elected a lousy actor who never attempted the necessary changes when he had the mandate. So here we are.

    When I first moved here I studied the initiatives, weighing carefully if students should get textbooks or building repairs with their limited funds. Over the years my eyes started to roll with the growing list of BS.

    Now I don’t give a shit. I ignore all of the initiatives.

  125. 125
    omen says:

    @The Grand Panjandrum:

    have you been to oklahoma?

  126. 126
    btsoap says:

    Another Native. While I consider myself liberal, I voted against these, too. The idea of the initiative has been hijacked by special interest groups and professional lobbyists; the governator uses it as a way to end-run around the Legislature. Our two thirds requirement allows a small chunk of wingnuts to block budgets and spout their false ‘tax reform’ BS–they are mostly the aforementioned SoCal repubs who represent them-who-has-got. While some taxes seem high, our property taxes are relatively lower than most states, especially for long-term homeowners, and they represent a huge part of the revenue for local and some state operations.

    I think the results of this election show that voters are rejecting the corrupted handling of initiatives and insisting that the Legislature do it’s job. A key initiative in the fall will probably be to remove the two thirds requirement.

    Bailout from the feds–probably not. But expect your farm products to start costing more…

  127. 127
    bago says:

    Someone needs to link this.

    Very appropriate song.

  128. 128
    Agi says:

    The only solution for this insanity is to 1) vote out every single incumbent in the CA State Senate and Assembly and 2) campaign to repeal the 2/3 rule. Being able to pass a budget with a simple majority would alleviate the annual song-and-dance between the governor and legislature on crafting a budget. Number 3 would be campaigning for a ballot measure to end all ballot measures. Hell, I would devote my time to gathering signatures for that.

  129. 129
    koan0215 says:

    I voted a straight no on the ballot measures. What a joke. None of these measures were about raising taxes, though there was something about extending a raise in the car tag fee. This was about moving money earmarked for one type of spending into the general fund. It’s like taping a fucking band-aid onto your neck stump once you’ve been beheaded. My state needs radical change. We need to cut spending heavily and raise taxes heavily. I’m pretty sure that the only way that structural change will happen is through federal intervention. I’m not even certain that CA can declare bankruptcy – I know it can default on its bond payments but I have no idea what happens after that. Anybody have a clue?

  130. 130
    Neo says:

    The obvious solution when confronted with a “sea of debt”, taken from the playbook of “The Won”, spend more money even faster.

    Yeah, that’s the ticket.

  131. 131
    maye says:

    I live in California. I don’t vote on ballot initiatives. I don’t support bumper sticker legislation. I support representative government. I am not a legislator. I do not hold hearings, ask for expert testimony, analyze costs and benefits. I am not qualified to these things. I elect representatives to go to the state capital to do these things.

    California is ungovernable. Unless the lawmaking framework is changed, it will remain ungovernable.

  132. 132

    John Cole:

    @coffeegirl: I’m telling you, the message that was sent by all those failing yesterday was not “Go back to work and do your job.” The message sent was “the voters have no appetite for higher taxes.”

    These propositions weren’t tax increases. They were basically reallocations, moving money from children to prison guards.

    “No new taxes” may be the message that the press will run with, but that’s not the message, unless you rely on rightwingers to provide you the message. Progressives I know hated the propositions too. If the press misses that, then they miss what the Dems said in the voter booth.

    So what was the progressives’ option? To vote for lousy propositions crafted by loony Republicans that gutted social services in order to not appear to give in to the loony Republicans? Some choice.

    Swine flu is a sign from God for the loony right. You know, the beginning of the plagues. Swine flu is another reason for a good public health system and universal healthcare for progressives. So, John Cole, are you for or against swine flu? Or are you for or against God? Your choice.

  133. 133
    Svensker says:

    I’ve pretty much had it with this country. We have idiot Repukes in California holding everyone hostage and the Dems being too lazy or cowardly to fight them.

    We have Harry Reid (D-Yellow Spine) holding up the closing of Gitmo because ooga booga scarey mooslems.

    We have Ben Nelson (D-Nutsville) holding up the appointment of Dawn Johnson at OLC because she thinks abortion is OK, as tho that has something to do with her job.

    And then I turn on the TV and hear Sean Hannity and Joe Scarbut talking about how great torture is.

    As far as I can tell, there are about 20 people in the U.S. who aren’t insane, and they all post on Balloon Juice. The rest of America? Totally nuts or lazy ass know-nothings.

    Time to move to Europe or something.

  134. 134
    Martin says:

    As it was, I voted straight no.

    As did we. The initiatives wouldn’t have fixed anything – it just would have put the problem off with the hope that money would be raining from heaven in 3-5 years – which is how Arnold solved the budget problems 3-5 years ago.

    The state needs to do a few things:

    1) Repeal Prop 13 and replace it with a system where tax increases are limited to some index which is at least higher than inflation. The current incarnation isn’t designed to flatten out the tax increases over time (which is a noble thing, property values here can honestly leap 30% in a year, and that’s one hell of a harsh tax increase), but rather to eliminate them altogether when inflation is factored in. Taxes based on the 10 year moving average of the value of your home since you bought it, or the current value, whichever is lower would be a decent start.
    2) Eliminate the ballot measure system. We’ve bankrupted ourselves on bond measures because the voters have no clue how they interact with the budget. Voters are simply unqualified to commit tax dollars.
    3) Legalize and tax pot. You all know that story. Our 3 strikes law, where it runs into the drug laws, are killing us.
    4) Get more federal dollars flowing to us to handle immigration and port operations. We have one of the biggest immigration enforcement problems in the nation (Texas might be worse) and we have one of the largest port operations in the nation – 90% of all trade with Asia comes through the state. A lot of those costs are borne by the state because previous presidents wanted to defund everything but the military. With the reduction in consumer spending, that trade is WAY down, and the money the state collects from moving all that crap into the country and out to the other states is gone, and that’s a BIG part of the budget problems.

    It’s worth noting that CA is the largest donor state. We send more tax dollars to the fed relative to what we get back than anyone. In fact, even when our budget deficit was at it’s worst ($40B), we were sending even more than that in excess federal taxes. That is to say, if our excess federal tax dollars were redirected to the state, we’d be running a surplus right now of about $20B. We can bail ourselves out just fine if only Alabama could live without our tax dollars.

  135. 135
    Agi says:

    @maye: word to that, except I vote “no” on every ballot measure out of principle – and a hatred for the ballot initiative process

  136. 136
    John Cole says:

    Go read Matt Welch in Reason sneering about the media. Go read all the right-wing blogs. The message is not “get back to work, legislature.”

    Also, as an aside, I am sick of listening to Matt Welch tell us all how to reform the media when he is the editor of a foundation funded magazine.

  137. 137
    Bill H says:

    CA’s proposition process was created for a constructive purpose. Big interests had direct control of government, and the inititiave process was created to wrest that control away from them. It worked, a little bit and for a little while, and then special interests took it over. Now props are created by special interests who spend millions getting them passed. They all say that they won’t cost a dime since they will be financed by bonds. They amount of money that is spent on them and the amount of blatant lying that is done in behalf of passing (or defeating) them is mind boggling. And the initial purpose for creating the process has been 100% subverted.

    Prop 13 had a couple of parts. The part that protected homeowners from rising property taxes was needed. Taxes were soaring and were driving people out of their homes. Business properties can still be reevaluated, as can residential ones whenever they are sold. The bad part was the 2/3 to budget and pass taxes. Another bad part of the proposition process. Those two things should have been separate issues.

    As has been pointed out, the most recent ones were shell games and fully worthy of the “no” votes that they got.

    The gerrymandering of districts is the worst problem we face, though, and it is too seldom mentioned. It results in radical and inflexible politics in Sacramento, and in representation that is far more rigid than the constituency that is represented. Time after time polls in a district indicate flexibility on an issue and the representative of that district is maintaining a radically partisan position.

  138. 138
    Dave C says:

    Another Californian here. I voted a straight “no” ticket yesterday. Not because I don’t care or because I hate taxes, but because I absolutely despise the ballot initiative system. My rule is that I will vote “no” on (almost) every ballot initiative until we get an initiative to end the ballot initiative system, at which point I will vote “yes.”

  139. 139
    HARRY VERBERNE says:

    The Jarvis initiative target was the Property Tax. The Gann Initiative target was the budget process. Wherein California, prior to the Gann initiative, could pass tax increases in the State Legislature with a simple majority, the Gann initiative required a 2/3 majority in both houses of the legislature – the Assembly and the State Senate – or during elections via the initiative process. Both facets require a 2/3 majority making the budget process in California one massive quagmire. Thats the reason the minority in California – the rabid Republicans, have a strangle hold on elections and the budget process in California.

  140. 140
    Agi says:

    It sounds like people do share my hatred of the ballot measure process. I’d donate my time to get signatures for a proposition to end all propositions.

    Hmm, I wonder if any groups have thought of pushing this…

  141. 141
    dday says:

    Don’t act like you know anything about California. Nobody voted for bankruptcy. The budget was $15 billion in the hole BEFORE this vote. I voted no because none of this ballot would do anything to solve the structural dysfunction in Sacramento. The state might as well be Somalia. We simply have to repeal the 2/3 vote and restore democracy to the state. That’s maddeningly simple and yet extremely complex to pull off. In the meantime, a so-called bailout wouldn’t bring more than $1 billion in solutions to California by backstopping muni bonds and wouldn’t cost the federal gov’t a dime.

  142. 142

    @omen: Oh yeah. The home of Garth Brooks, Carrie Underwood and James Inhofe is a great place to drive through.

  143. 143

    There is continued talk of the northermost counties in Cali and the southermost counties in Oregon seceding and creating their own state, something like Anglonia. That would give the Repubs or whatever comes after them two more seats in the Senate. But that would leave the rest of California really, really Democrat except for a few folks making meth up in the hills.

    But if you were going to divide up Cali, you might as well keep splitting it up and give the Dems a bunch more Senators. Someone did the figuring and found that Barbara Boxer got more votes in her last election and something like twenty of the Republican Senators from the Great American Desert and the South. (Okay, maybe the statistics are exactly that, but it was close, and somebody can crunch the numbers). A voter in Wyoming gets so much more bang for his Senate buck than a California does. Where’s my equal protection under the law?

  144. 144
    joes527 says:

    @John Cole:

    Go read Matt Welch in Reason sneering about the media. Go read all the right-wing blogs. The message is not “get back to work, legislature.”

    So … You want California to dig itself deeper into a shithole so that wingnuts will stop being wingnutty?

    The propositions were *poison*. It is a pity that the spin is bad on the day after, but that is no reason to have voted for them.

  145. 145
    HyperIon says:

    @Bob In Pacifica:

    California should be a cautionary tale for the rest of the country for what happens when a crazy minority controls the power of the government. Sort of like what’s happening in Washington.

    um, WHICH crazy minority controls the power of the government in DC now?

  146. 146
    Elie says:

    California is cementing a lesson we have already started to learn nationally: there is a need for and consequence to not having competent, “adult” governance and to electing people to office who can give that to the people.

    This will play out hard and mean because unlike the nation, there is no “leader” in CA who speaks honestly and unflinchingly about what is needed. Everyone pretends that there is no consequence to the “lets just pretend there won’t be a consequence to this”.

    Over and over across the country states have implemented ballot box initiatives as a proxy for competent leadership and governance and for making tough but necessary choices. Its been in general, a catastrophe: nothing gets done, issues are treated in “stove pipes” without understanding relationships. Its also made people impatient and petty — wanting quick solutions “just-like-that” — which we see played out in discourse over and over — admonitions to Obama and others to just do this or that and unless you do this or that, we are going to bail on you”… It is of a piece with the logic of these stupid and ineffective tools.

    Proposition 13 started this mess and Californians have not been able or willing to fix the damned problem. Until they take this head on, there will be nothing but more pain and the horror of watching this play out most predictably on the weakest and poorest first — as usual.

  147. 147
    Cat Lady says:

    @Svensker:

    Time to move to Europe or something.

    OT – but Ireland might be a good choice. When this report gets fully digested by the public, it will be generations before religion will be a factor in governance and policy making.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05.....nd.html?hp

    So much for the argument about religion being a necessary condition for morality.

  148. 148
    harlana pepper says:

    AGREED

    & now, OT

    FUCKING DEMS

    SHIT

    thx

  149. 149
    datacine says:

    I am a 6th generation native Californian. The problem is the both direct government (initiatives) as stated many times above and the Two Santa Clauses.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jude_Wanniski
    The two Santas must die.
    The whole country is getting a taste of this from the spend and borrow Republicans.

  150. 150
    Woody says:

    Ash
    I have no idea what all this means in terms of money and what not, but California’s proposition system is one of the stupidest ideas ever conceived.

    It was conceived back in the populist days as a tool against the excesses of the oligarchs (Leland Stanford, e.g.). In the (now predictable) way of such things, it was soon turned by the elites against the very interests it was designed to assist.

    As long as big money dominates the public/political discourse, direct democracy is a recipe for corpoRat dominion, for evah!

  151. 151
    Comrade Dread says:

    A voter in Wyoming gets so much more bang for his Senate buck than a California does. Where’s my equal protection under the law?

    In the House of Representatives, where membership is apportioned by state population.

    The Senate was designed to be the equalizer between large and small states. Actually, the Senate was designed to be the voice of the state as a whole and represent their interests overall, which is why they were originally elected by votes of the state legislatures.

    Which might not be a bad idea if it eliminated the need for Senators to campaign for donor dollars. Of course, then the special interests would just buy the state legislatures and have them pick one of their cronies, so maybe the whole exercise would be moot anyway.

  152. 152
    jcricket says:

    Proposition 13 started this mess and Californians have not been able or willing to fix the damned problem. Until they take this head on, there will be nothing but more pain and the horror of watching this play out most predictably on the weakest and poorest first—- as usual.

    California is the US in a microcosm/nutshell. Republicans offer only “borrow and spend” or simply “cut taxes” (and occasionally cut spending) as a solution (which is no solution). They are 60% at fault for the situation.

    Democrats then fail to offer any good reasons to pay taxes, or counter the idiotic rhetoric where Republicans promise people they can get something for nothing. So Democrats share in the blame.

    The situation doesn’t go away when the state defaults, or Democrats are in charge (even if they had 2/3rds majorities). It goes away when Democrats find a way to tell people the truth (services cost money, taxes need to go up to pay for them, or we can gut services), and continue to get elected.

  153. 153
    Jamey says:

    John, you’re not ENTIRELY wrong about Cali. (though I am a bit leery of the prospect of letting the country’s biggest state economy go belly-up because they can’t sort out liturgical in-fighthing).

    But you could make your point without subjecting us to Megan’s incredibly fucking shitty writing and jr. high debate society-grade logic? There are other sources; linking to her only feeds the Randians.

  154. 154
    Woody says:

    GrandPJ:

    Don’t forget Toby Keith,,,

    but on the plus side of the ledger, there’s Leon Russell, J Cale, and even “the Flaming Lips”? (who?)

  155. 155

    Exactly, joes527.

    John Cole, if your opinion is formulated by reading rightwingers, then maybe that’s the problem. Or cut back a cup or two on the Peets.

    If we lose a war the reactionaries say it’s because the libruls didn’t clap loud enough. If propositions are voted down it’s because “the people” don’t want new taxes. Swine flu is God’s punishment.

    At some point rational people realize that it’s all rightwing BS. I’m grateful that you read it so that I don’t have to, but don’t you start believing it again.

  156. 156
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @John Cole, a few moderates may have skipped voting on the grounds that it would drive things over the brink they have to hit to actually force change.

    In this case that’s kind of like, not only giving the drunk the keys to his car as he stumbles out of the pub, but also nicking his brake lines, in the hopes that he will dry up while healing in the hospital. Trouble is there is no hospital big enough for this patient.

  157. 157
    kay says:

    @Cat Lady:

    So sad. There’s a warning there. The Irish program was nothing but a huge faith-based initiative.

    That turned out well. Hand a church complete control of a whole sector of public services and end up with abuse? No one could have predicted that.

    It’s heartening how the church cooperated, isn’t it? They stonewalled for ten years, filing lawsuit after lawsuit.

    And they wonder why those churches are empty.

  158. 158
    Rick Taylor says:

    The prop 13 supporters were the original tea baggers. I remember the adds with someone singing to the battle hymn of the republic the lyrics, “There is one thing we must do. . .. on on eight and yes on 13. . .”

    Unfortunately I live here and teach. I may have to look for work outside the state soon.

  159. 159
  160. 160
    Zifnab says:

    @Woody:

    As long as big money dominates the public/political discourse, direct democracy is a recipe for corpoRat dominion, for evah!

    As opposed to representative democracy, which has been an oasis free of corporate domination since its inception. Wassa lobbyist?

    Money is power – be it in a direct democracy or a representative democracy or a full blown autocratic dictatorship. We’ll cure children’s leukemia before we cure money in politics. Because, let’s face it, people in power actually want to cure cancer. But the moment you get far enough ahead in the game, no one wants to give up the reigns of power that money can buy.

  161. 161
    koan0215 says:

    Let’s not pretend that the Dems in CA aren’t at fault for this mess as well. There have been plenty state programs introduced by the Dems in the legislature, passed by the votes of Dems in the legislature, and under-funded by that same legislature. I’m a liberal. I LIKE giving ponies out to people. But we do have to pay for those ponies. If the Republican rump won’t let you pay for the ponies, then DON”T HAND OUT THE PONIES.

  162. 162
    jcricket says:

    Kevin Drum has a good post summarizing the issue:

    Historically, California has been a high tax/high service state. That’s fine. Some states prefer a low tax/low service model. That’s fine too. (It’s a lousy idea, I think, but fiscally it’s fine.) But over the past few decades we Californians have somehow concluded that we can be a medium tax/high service state. It’s a fantasy. Unfortunately, I’m not sure just what it’s going to take to jolt everyone out of their delusions. Stay tuned

  163. 163
    Wisdom says:

    My only other add to your update John:

    *And the annual delta between our federal tax payments and what comes back to California is 2X our current deficit.

    Now, we’ll get some of that back from the bailout, but imagine the ass raping you all did on California during the dot-com period. We carried all of you.

  164. 164
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @Cat Lady: Sweet Jesus.

    The government paid 27 church orders to run the more than 250 institutions covered by the report. . . . Many of the 30,000 children ordered into the system had no access to education, and were instead forced to work as virtual prisoners until age 16, victims of the abuse have testified.

    The worst of Faith Based Initiatives and Prison Industrial Complex rolled into one giant ball of FAIL.

    At worst, the child was blamed and seen as corrupted by the sexual activity, and was punished severely.

    The Christian Taliban are apparently not a new thing.

  165. 165
    Neo says:

    A smattering of California voters

    Since when is 3.86 million voters a smattering ?

    At least for now, this is California not China.

  166. 166
    HyperIon says:

    @Svensker:

    Time to move to Europe or something.

    this is what i keep thinking.
    i don’t see how to fix things.
    or rather i do see HOW but it’s pretty obvious that my fellow amuricans are not there yet.

  167. 167
    Hob says:

    John: Have you actually read what the propositions were? You can rant about “messages” all you want, and I won’t deny that CA voters & politicians do a lot of really stupid shit in general, but your claim that this was about people not wanting to pay taxes makes no sense — that’s not what those propositions would’ve done. Several commenters (Bob in Pacifica, Roger Moore) have laid it out pretty clearly and you’re just ignoring them.

    BTW, everyone craving better CA state political reporting should definitely read dday’s blog calitics.

  168. 168
    Elie says:

    ” Time to Move to Europe or Something”

    I think that is precisely why we are having problems with governing ourselves. You can’t run away. Have to face it sooner or later. Europeans also have their problems. There is no heaven on earth that the people do not work to create. It doesnt just fall out of the sky.

  169. 169
    Mike D. says:

    I know there’s Soviet Georgia and cotton pickin’ Georgia, right? So I guess there’s California in the USA and Imperial California.

    The difference is that Imperial California sends eighteen times more money to the Empire than it gets back in local expenditures. California USA is so screwed with unions and guilds that their movie industry is bleeding to Canada and NZ, and their bread-and-butter online companies, like Kinko’s, spent the late 90s moving to places like Texas, where non-whites, homosexuals, women and persons related by blood to lawyers could be fired from their jobs without blocking the bowels of commerce with a Supreme Court civil rights case. The exact opposite of a Delaware corporation is a California small business — ask around.

    Imperial California is the fifth through seventh largest single self-sufficient economy in the world, and I can’t summon up much support for a non-underdog like that. The American California, on the other hand, is a total dog’s breakfast, politically and economically, and I support the immediate intubation of the state economy, on the condition that the citizenry shut the fuck up about how the sun shines out their collective asses and there’s nothing wrong that couldn’t be fixed by machine-gunning Okie immigrants at the state line.

  170. 170
    John Cole says:

    @Hob: Yes, I read them last week, but apparently I did not understand them as they are being widely panned here in the comments. I thought the rainy day fund was a good idea- shouldn’t there be a reserve for out years? I fail to see what was so nefarious with that one, so maybe I just simply don’t understand the internal politics associated with it.

  171. 171
    Bootlegger says:

    Democracy is messy, lurching between utopia and dystopia. If you want your politicians to make hard choices then start a dictatorship. If you want the people to make the decisions then be prepared for periodic bouts of insanity. These are the choices.

    That said, a well-constructed representative democracy can avoid a lot of turmoil and I agree with our Cali cousins here, you guys need a new state constitution.

  172. 172
    HyperIon says:

    @Martin:

    It’s worth noting that CA is the largest donor state.

    I’m not criticizing you specifically but i notice that several californicators have made this point. i don’t get the power of the argument that you guys pay more in fed taxes than you get back in fed services.

    first, fed taxes are for fed obligations. that SOME flows back to states is to be expected but states that get back more than they pay MUST be the exception. that is, not everything goes back to the states. for example, the interest on the debt must be paid.

    second, you pay way more fed taxes because you have way more income subject to fed taxes. what has that to do with the budget decisions YOUR state government made?

    bottom line: i think this argument is bogus.

  173. 173
    Crockpot says:

    I just want to point something out about one of the things I keep hearing people complain about on this blog. When you say things like “We pay more in federal taxes than we get back” and tie that fact to the sentiment of “we don’t like the fact that states like Alabama and Mississippi get more federal money than they pay in” you are essentially making the same arguments that conservatives make about welfare. “I got mine jack. Fuck the rest of you.”

    Look at the median income of the states here. Then take a look at what states take in and pay out in taxes here.

    You’ll notice that the wealthier states are supporting the poorer. So if you are OK with welfare giving the poorer members of your society a leg up why are you not OK with the the result of more money going to the poorer states? How could it possibly be any other way?

  174. 174
    koan0215 says:

    The “rainy day fund” was basically a raid on education moneys. It sets up a rainy day fund by moving money earmarked for schools, and then says that in a time of emergency (read right now) the state can use that money to balance the budget. So basically it’s an accounting trick. Set up the rainy day fund, move money from education into it, and then raid the fund.

  175. 175
    HyperIon says:

    @John Cole:

    Go read Matt Welch in Reason sneering…..Also, as an aside, I am sick of listening to Matt Welch.

    Yeah, I’m sick of him, too.
    That’s why I don’t read him anymore. ;+0
    So many assholes, so little time.

  176. 176
    fledermaus says:

    The California Constitution has been amended or revised more than 500 times. It is now 157 pages.

    Really? What the fuck is wrong with you people? That’s just nuts.

  177. 177
    joes527 says:

    @John Cole: You might look here.

  178. 178
    Olly McPherson says:

    You’ll notice that the wealthier states are supporting the poorer. So if you are OK with welfare giving the poorer members of your society a leg up why are you not OK with the the result of more money going to the poorer states? How could it possibly be any other way?

    One answer: the wealthier states want some restrictions on how the poorer states spend their money. It’s BS if you kill funding for roads, welfare, unemployment, infrastructure, etc.–all while denouncing “big government”–and then run back to its teat when you need cash. The recent “refuse the stimulus” nonsense has contributed to this kind of frustration.

    Throw in the fact that a lot poor states promote themselves as “Real America” and want to be free to discriminate in peace, and you have a nice recipe for “Fuck you–I pay your way.” (See “Fuck the South”)

  179. 179

    @HyperIon:

    bottom line: i think this argument is bogus.

    It is also true that most of the states that take in more federal dollars than are sent to DC are those with fairly large and/or multiple military bases. Because California has such a large population it would have to have 3-4 more large military installations or national labs to close the gap.

    New Mexico is one of the few blue states that actually receives more federal dollars than it sends out it taxes. It has a population of less than 2 million, with two national labs, a couple of good size AF bases.

  180. 180
    jcricket says:

    You’ll notice that the wealthier states are supporting the poorer. So if you are OK with welfare giving the poorer members of your society a leg up why are you not OK with the the result of more money going to the poorer states? How could it possibly be any other way?

    Crockpot: I think you’re missing the root reason for the argument. The argument isn’t made because us liberals/Democrats object to what you said (the rich states helping the poor) – it’s that the poor/red states seem to:

    A) Think they’re rugged individualists, and it’s us liberals who suckle off the federal government’s teat

    B) Welfare should be abolished.

    It’s not really “f* you I got mine”, but “Oh really? You’re tired of welfare? Fine, let’s eliminate it. See how well you do.” It’s a result of being “lectured” by the Republicans/red states when they’re the one not in command of the facts.

    Ultimately, it’s not something I really support (as I believe in the need for progressive taxation and redistribution to keep a solid floor under the lowest economic rung on the ladder). However, I 100% understand the sentiment.

  181. 181
    Blue Raven says:

    @Jose C:

    The tax structure is tilted so heavily towards taxing the high end that the vast majority of the middle and lower classes (< $65K family income) don’t pay a penny in state income taxes, just sales taxes – the most regressive form of tax period.

    I am a CA taxpayer in a two-adult household (married couple with unemployed husband). I make ~60K/yr and I owed state income taxes for the last two years on top of what I had deducted. Try that again?

  182. 182
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    Hard to believe that this is the same commentariat that only a few weeks ago was criticizing certain Republican governors for not wanting to accept bailout money.

  183. 183

    koan0215 wrote: “The “rainy day fund” was basically a raid on education moneys.”

    Exactly.

    It sounded good but it was just another sleight of hand.

    How does the old standard go? “Here’s that rainy day.”

  184. 184
    torrentprime says:

    Being (to my shame) one of those young, dumb, and full of Reagan conservatives who helped elect Arnold and now has done a 180 to the other side, it’s interesting seeing the right wing try desperately to take what was already a voter tendency to reject these props and hitch their anti-tax wagon to it.
    I did vote no across the board. As explained above, the props were shell games.
    Speaking of calitics.com (which I also recommend), their point last night was valid, I think:

    Just to make a point, in the city of Palmdale, a mildly conservative city in LA County, they have Measure B, a transient occupancy tax (hotels), on the ballot. Right now it’s passing with 67% of the vote.

    Don’t tell me this is a repudiation of taxes. It’s a repudiation of bad governance.

    The right explicitly lied and claimed the props were for higher taxes. I spent time in inland CA last weekend, and saw bumper stickers saying “No higher taxes – no on 1A – 1E”. Also saw a restaurant that had populated their marquee with “We Live Deep In the Heart of Taxes”. It’s the new religion in Real America.

  185. 185
    Seanly says:

    What would be the mechanism for California to crash & burn? Won’t they just keep borrowing money & limping along? Other than the post-Civil War re-writes of some Southern constitutions, there hasn’t been anything approaching this, has there?

    I guess what I’m saying is that while it should all burn & be redone, it would be very difficult to pull off. And even if it did crash, who would be the ones to re-write the constitution? It could take a long time & special interests could still gum up everything from both sides.

    I think things will keep limping along with nothing changing. Then in about 15 to 20 years, the rest of the US will follow coz of the federal government. As much as I love my progressive policies & such, we need both spending reform and tax reform. If people want so much from (a) state or (b) federal government, then the taxes are going to have to support it. The solutions will hurt in the short term, probably hurt in the medium term and maybe things might get better long term.

  186. 186
    Martin says:

    I’m not criticizing you specifically but i notice that several californicators have made this point. i don’t get the power of the argument that you guys pay more in fed taxes than you get back in fed services.
    first, fed taxes are for fed obligations. that SOME flows back to states is to be expected but states that get back more than they pay MUST be the exception. that is, not everything goes back to the states. for example, the interest on the debt must be paid.
    second, you pay way more fed taxes because you have way more income subject to fed taxes. what has that to do with the budget decisions YOUR state government made?
    bottom line: i think this argument is bogus.

    That’s a fair point. But let’s look at what federal services fall disproportionately on border states. California has massive expenses related to infrastructure so that we can move the several trillion dollars worth of goods that come to the US from Asia to the other continental 47. Rail, highways, ports, and all the infrastructure related to them. We have disproportionately high expenses compared to Oklahoma, etc. even on a per-capita basis because we are the nation’s port to Asia. The same goes for immigration where the state has to dump considerable dollars into dealing with a situation that is jurisdictionally a federal problem, but for which the feds don’t feel like paying. Toss in that we are also the nations largest agriculture state, which only adds to the service that we provide to the nation.

    You’d think that all of those Ag subsidies, defense spending, immigration enforcement and whatnot would make us flush with money, but those are all counted in the denominator of the equation which is still being swamped by the tax revenue that we pay out.

    Put another way, what services are the rest of the nation providing to California that should make us feel good about the excess in taxes that we pay? We’re the largest import state, the largest agriculture economy, and the largest manufacturing economy. We’re hosting more military than any other state as well. It appears on our end, that as federal obligations go, we’re providing quite a lot to the nation even before we get to the tax situation. Californian’s are spending more per-capita to keep illegals from getting to Utah, than are Utahans. We’re spending more per-capita to get shit to Walmarts in Alabama than are Alabamans. That’s the problem.

  187. 187
    Martin says:

    Hard to believe that this is the same commentariat that only a few weeks ago was criticizing certain Republican governors for not wanting to accept bailout money.

    Well, we do have an actor for a Governor, fags in SF, and Nancy Pelosi, so clearly we are unworthy as a state to anyone.

  188. 188
    jonas says:

    @El Cid:

    They did: it was called Prop 13.

  189. 189
    Bender says:

    You are a state DOMINATED by Democrats

    Duh… that’s why they are in this mess to begin with. Just like Michigan, New Orleans, New Jersey… Anyone see a pattern as to what happens with Democrats in dominance? No…probably at Loon Juice, you don’t see it. But in the real world, after five months of this partial-birth abortion of an administration, the GOP has pulled even in party affiliation polls and leads in the generic ballot.

  190. 190
    AhabTRuler says:

    I think that the Federal tax burden argument is a stinker and a red herring. The only reason it gets thrown about is because it makes the Red states look like hypocrites (but it doesn’t work, Republicans are expected to be hypocrites). Other than that, it is a fairly silly statistic.

  191. 191
    joes527 says:

    John:

    Your update is spot-on

    Sounds like the only thing that can be done is to burn the government to the ground and rebuild.

    This is why there is a call for a constitutional convention even though we can amend the existing constitution at the drop of a hat. (that is actually a big part of the problem)

    What California needs is a fresh piece of paper.

    I doubt it is practical or even possible to radically restructure the government of the state. But I see no other way forward.

  192. 192
    Brandon T says:

    Sounds like the only thing that can be done is to burn the government to the ground and rebuild.

    That’s about what I’ve concluded. That’s why I voted against all the propositions yesterday. Despite all the nonsense of the last several years, there is STILL not a majority of voters interested in reforming the state government. Maybe massive unemployment/rising crime/even crappier schools will make people realize that politics is not a game…

  193. 193
    mey says:

    Awful post, John Cole, just awful. You do not understand the complete crackassness of the initiatives at all. Go read so Calitics and stop reading right-wing blogs to understand why so many progressives and “dems” voted no on this clusterfuck of offerings from our legislature.

  194. 194
    Mnemosyne says:

    @John Cole:

    Californians had a chance to vote yesterday, and they did. They voted for bankruptcy. How many of you are from California and chose not to vote yesterday?

    I do, and I specifically chose not to vote yesterday because, frankly, the fucking budget should not be determined by voter initiative. It shouldn’t. I voted against the initiatives that caused this problem in the first place.

    We can change the state Constitution by a 50% +1 majority but we have to have a 2/3rds majority to pass a budget. We’re fucked.

  195. 195
    tavella says:

    The problem was, it wasn’t just a tax increase. I’d have voted for that with a smile on my face. It’s all the other shell games and shit they attached to it. I did considering voting yes on 1A (the only part which had an actual tax increase) despite it being a raid on education, freezing things at a terrible level, etc, but the rest of it was simply too shitty, and I went no across the board.

    And, of course, even if they all had passed they wouldn’t have fixed the deficit.

  196. 196
    jonas says:

    @Blue Raven:

    You’re in the 6% bracket, so you probably withheld the minimum, but didn’t withhold enough to cover the 6% tax for income over $50k. I kept doing that too until my accountant explained that I needed to reduce my exemptions to cover it. Got a nice refund this year.

  197. 197
    mey says:

    [Prop 1A] would actually make it more difficult for future governors and legislatures to enact budgets that meet California’s needs and address state priorities. It would amend the state Constitution to dictate restrictions on the use of funds put into the reserve and limit how “unanticipated” revenues can be used in good years. It could lock in a reduced level of public services by not taking proper account of the state’s changing demographics and actual growth in costs. Prop 1A would also give future governors new power to make budget cuts without legislative oversight. Like the other propositions opposed by the League on this ballot, Prop 1A came from a deeply flawed process that resulted in measures written in haste and without public input or analysis. The League would support real budget reform, but we regretfully conclude that this measure would only make things worse. (League of Women Voters)

  198. 198
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    @Martin:
    It’s simpler than that; ABC (Anywhere But California) has been around for decades. It will still be around long after it becomes permissible to gay marry your first cousin in the Bible Belt.

  199. 199
    datacine says:

    As per your update.
    What the state needs is the repeal of the 2/3 vote for tax increases. This has been tackled excellently by Calitics.
    We are a majority Democratic Party State. Let that party set the budget, and then tax for that budget. If the electorate does not like this, then they can vote in whatever party to come in and get rid of all of those pesky services that we must pay for.
    California is NOT a high tax state, we rank 17th.

  200. 200
    Blue Raven says:

    Here is what I think I understand- your budget grows every year yet it is never enough, you have a fanatical group of Republicans who gum up the budgetary process, but your legislature is so gerrymandered and the 2/3 vote required for tax issues makes it possible to change anything, all the while many of the Democrats are also happy with nothing changing because they are in safely gerrymandered seats and completely beholden to union interests. Is that close?

    Only partially. The budget sort of grows every year but the fuckers with the Rs after their names refuse to admit taxation is necessary to fund anything and the Dems who want to raise taxes get the shit kicked out of them thanks to the 2/3 thing. The Dems aren’t particularly happy but fairly content to continue to strap on the state feed bag and chew the oats from our tax dollars. (This is why I voted Yes on the pay raise issue, as those bastards haven’t suffered much under this while my father-in-law had to accept a pay voucher under Davis in lieu of real money.)

    The only candidate to replace Arnie so far who is talking constitutional convention is Gavin Newsom. For that alone, I’m strongly considering voting for him even if he’s closer to a Rethug in progressive clothing on a fiscal basis (his homeless assistance programs have managed to create the craziest have/have-not divide amongst the homeless I’ve seen yet). And yes, I do believe the fact Arnie’s facing the term limit situation is why he’s willing to play the shell game these initiatives represented. Foist it onto the Democrat who is almost inevitably going to follow him into office, since the best the CA Rethugs have is Meg Whitman. Wait two years. Recall. Permanent majority!

  201. 201
    Jose C says:

    The current situation in California is what it is for a number of reasons, and has been a long time coming.

    For those who bag on the initiative process, it served (and still serves) a purpose, but has been perverted beyond all reason. Someone earlier made a comment that “if you can’t vote for it, you can;t pay for it”, and that is a very rational approach. How practical is another matter.

    For those who fail to understand why Prop 13 passed, it was a combination of demagoguery, people threatened with losing their homes to assessment and tax increases, and our once and (possibly) future governor, Jerry Brown, who bungled the news that the state was sitting on a $5 billion surplus and would not rebate even a part of it.

    This impasse should be no surprise. Now Republican representative, then Republican state senator Tom McClintock, who is a fiscal hawk extraordinaire while being a complete and irredeemable dinosaur on social issues, spent years watching the process in Sacramento grind on, and noted two years ago in a very prescient speech in the state senate almost exactly what was going to happen.

    Me – I voted to recall Grey Davis after voting for him for Governor because I thought he had bungled a similar budget issue and turned into a total pussy during the power shenanigans, and for McClintock in the recall because I thought Ahnuld would turn into the sort of dilettante as governor as he has turned out to be.

    I also voted against everything on the ballot, because the lot of them were jokes that weren’t going to solve a thing – just pour Coca-Cola on a burn. The problems in this state do not lend themselves easy understanding to those who don’t live here and / or pay attention to them carefully. We have over the years shot ourselves in the foot, unlike places like Michigan who are dealing with the effects of macro economic forces and over reliance on single industries as economic engines.

    I do think we needed something like this to force a day of reckoning, though. The political parties and politicians are proving themselves incapable of fixing things without staring into the abyss.

  202. 202
    Zifnab says:

    @Bender:

    Duh… that’s why they are in this mess to begin with. Just like Michigan, New Orleans, New Jersey… Anyone see a pattern as to what happens with Democrats in dominance?

    Lols. Texas has never run a multi-billion dollar deficit while Republicans controlled the governor’s mansion and the state Congress 1. And don’t even get me started on Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, or Florida. The first three are practically feudal states, and the fourth has taken flak from uber-conservative Tom Tancredo as being a “third world country”. So… yeah.

    ^1 LIES!

  203. 203
    Blue Raven says:

    @jonas:

    You’re in the 6% bracket, so you probably withheld the minimum, but didn’t withhold enough to cover the 6% tax for income over $50k. I kept doing that too until my accountant explained that I needed to reduce my exemptions to cover it. Got a nice refund this year.

    I take no exemptions. I will note I got bit on the ass by 401(k) IRA withdrawals. Without those, I might have owed a small amount at most. Remains true that JoseC was full of it when he said people in my income range pay no state income tax. They take it out of my paycheck and I do not get it all back even if I do get a refund.

  204. 204
    Martin says:

    Anyone see a pattern as to what happens with Democrats in dominance?

    Democrats aren’t in dominance. They’re in the minority (as are republicans) as far as taxes are concerned because 2/3 vote is needed. So long as you are under the 2/3 mark (as Democrats are) you have no power.

    To give you some idea of how fucked up the Republicans are here, consider the yacht tax:

    Assembly Republicans voted down a bill today which would’ve closed a tax loophole letting those who buy yachts and aircraft avoid paying California taxes.
    The Assembly voted 47-18 for SBX3-8, but because tax matters require a two-thirds vote for passage, it failed. All Assembly Democrats voted for it, while 18 Republicans voted against it and 13 more Republicans failed to vote on it despite being present at the State Capitol today.

    Democrats are more than willing to fix these problems, but they can’t because of a ballot initiative passed a number of years ago that put the 2/3 requirement down.

  205. 205
    Roger Moore says:

    @Martin:

    2) Eliminate the ballot measure system. We’ve bankrupted ourselves on bond measures because the voters have no clue how they interact with the budget. Voters are simply unqualified to commit tax dollars.

    I think that the ballot initiative system is broken, but that it’s potentially fixable. My suggestions:

    Do away with general obligation bonds. If you want to sell bonds, you have to raise revenues enough to pay them back. You can raise the revenue with a mil levy or with revenue bonds, but you have to have some source of revenue to pay it back.
    Raise the number of signatures required to get an initiative on the ballot. It’s to low a barrier at the moment. If it were legal, I’d recommend banning paid petition circulators, too.
    Let the Legislature override initiative statues by a larger majority than the initiative passed by. So if an initiative passes with 50.1% of the vote, the Legislature can override it with, say, a 55% majority. If it passes with 60%, the Legislature can override it with a 65% majority.

  206. 206
    Jose C says:

    @Blue Raven:

    You’re borderline dinks. Throw in some kids and see what happens.

  207. 207
    Martin says:

    Sounds like the only thing that can be done is to burn the government to the ground and rebuild.

    That’s pretty much it. Most of us are tired of patching it, and the 2/3 requirement and Prop 13 are almost impossible to get repealed because the legislature is powerless against voter initiatives.

    I personally think the only solution is a new constitution and I will continue to vote in that direction.

  208. 208
    That One - Cain says:

    @Roger Moore:

    The state’s big problem is that Prop 13 made property taxes much too small to fund anything, so we had to raise our income taxes to make up the difference. But income taxes vary much more over the course of a business cycle. During the bubble, revenues went way up, but stupid mandatory spending requirements from previous initiatives forced the legislature to spend most of it on specified programs rather than saving for a rainy day. Now, during the crash, there’s no savings from the good times to fall back on.

    That happened in Oregon too. The republicans gutted all the savings and gave it all as tax rebates instead of keeping it in a rainy day fund. When we hit the dot com bomb Oregon went down the shitter and the state didn’t have any money. We’re a lot better off, but the whole “republicans are fiscally responsible” is complete bullshit. They spend like little girls just not on you or me but bullshit junkets and coziness with business. And while I’m at it, our ballot initiaitive is barely saner than California’s only because Oregon folks are a lot smarter and pragmatic. But we still have assholes like Bill Sizemore trying to game the system with his anti-tax initiatives causing unions and others to spend money trying to fight it while he’s collecting money from the people paying him to write the initiatives. The guy is a menace.

    We hae the 2/3rd stuff, and I voted against keeping it last summer. I think it passed so we don’t have the 2/3rd problem anymore. Someone from Oregon confirm that?

    cain

  209. 209
    AhabTRuler says:

    Here’s the deal: I won’t bag on California (although I will link to this), and I am even down with forking over some Federal loot, if that’s what it takes.

    Just one thing, though: fix your fucking state!

  210. 210
    jonas says:

    I’m in California and the ballot measures yesterday were joke Band-aids on our budget mess. Until California gets a governor who’s willing to man up and go to war with the anti-tax wingnuts in California and 1. repeal Prop 13, which started this whole mess, and 2. convene a constitutional convention that would get rid of the stupid ballot initiative process and de-gerrymand the legislature, nothing will change here.

    California is essentially divided between the wealthy, liberal coastal enclaves and the rest of the state, which is slightly to the right of rural Georgia politically. But like many red parts of the country, the conservatives in California are under the delusion that they’re a bunch of rugged individualists living off the fat o’ the land and it’s the homosexual illegal immigrant teacher unions that cause all their problems. In reality, it’s the wealthy liberal parts of the state that subsidize the roads, water projects, firefighting, schools and most services that make life in their stupid, wildfire-prone exurban McMansions with two Hummers in the driveway possible.

  211. 211
    That One - Cain says:

    @ElCap:

    And ditto on the “bailout” deal. All you clowns that live in states where you get more in fed tax money than you pay…from all the Californians subsidizing your backwater state: Blow me.

    Maybe you guys need to.. GO Galt!

    cain

  212. 212
    The Raven says:

    “Can anyone give me reasons I should feel sympathy?”

    Because the problems of California are the problems of the whole USA in small, and the solutions California arrives at will probably become the solutions the whole USA uses.

    California’s problem is miserliness, not a lack of funds, not a growing budget, not unions. The immediate trigger of this problem was a shortfall in tax revenue resulting for the global economic failure. The response of minority which controls budgeting in the state was to…cut taxes.

  213. 213
    Blue Raven says:

    @Jose C:

    You’re borderline dinks. Throw in some kids and see what happens.

    ROFLMAO. I’ll take the tax peculiarities over the kids. At my age, I’d probably add another child to the autistic minority and have to deal with Jenny McCarthy telling me it’s because I got them vaccinated, ignoring the fact both the husband and I are over 40 and the baby-making cells are aging right along with us.

  214. 214
    Tonal Crow says:

    The main problems are:
    1. The 2/3rds requirement to pass a budget, which means that the anti-tax wingnuts get their way almost every time; and
    2. The ease with which the public can (and does) pass earmarked bond measures by initiative. These are usually promoted with language like “This initiative funds x, y, and z WITHOUT RAISING YOUR TAXES”.

  215. 215
    The Raven says:

    And here we have the socialist response. (First link in Google News, when I typed “California Teacher Layoffs”.) Hee.

  216. 216
    AhabTRuler says:

    the problems of California are the problems of the whole USA in small

    Correct. But the core issue is not the problems themselves, but the insurmountable political obstacles between the problems and implementing reasonable solutions.

    We (Cali & the USA) are in the situation we are in because we are (often) petty, short-sighted, greedy, & foolish; change that and we might be able to get somewhere.

  217. 217
    Sad_Dem says:

    Californian and Angeleno here, and the election results don’t surprise me, since the local pols changed my polling place at the last minute. They do that when they are pissed at how people are going to vote. I’d say the general attitude here is: a) Hey, how about those Lakers? and b) Let the government crash and burn, it doesn’t serve us anyway.

  218. 218
    Jose C says:

    @Blue Raven:

    Ah, so you consider special tax penalties to be a part of ordinary income? Not relevant to the tax calculations I read.

    Also – own or rent?

    A lot of stuff goes into that calculation, but the general rule applies – and I’m not full of it when it comes to discussing the mess that CA has gotten itself into with cheap progressive sloganeering and funding general needs with revenues that are subject to wild fluctuations based on stock options or dot com bonuses. Which is exactly what we have done.

    What we should do is get off the sales tax gravy train for local governments (way to regressive and unfair to those who can least afford it), construct a reasonable property tax structure (which we clearly don’t have), return budget and revenue responsibility to the local governments, and adjust the income tax to be strongly yet not unfairly progressive yet assure all who draw on state services pay something based on what they make.

    That is not the case in CA right now.

  219. 219
    sacrablue says:

    @Bob In Pacifica: I agree with all that you wrote except: the state is so pathetic that they can’t agree to build or buy a governor’s mansion, so there is none. At the moment, I believe the governor hangs out at the Hyatt whenever he bothers to show up in Sacramento.

  220. 220
    That One - Cain says:

    @Ramalamadingdong:
    Ramalamadingdong was a nickname in high school. Thanks man for bringing up bad memories :P

    cain

    ps j/k

  221. 221
    Roger Moore says:

    @Martin:

    You’d think that all of those Ag subsidies

    Sure, but California isn’t getting much in Ag subsidies. Most of the subsidies go to the big commodity crops- wheat, corn, soybeans, cotton, etc.- that are grown on enormous farms in the Midwest. But that’s not what California grows. Our big crops are mostly the things that the subsidies ignore, like fruits, vegetables, and nuts. The only exception is dairy, and that’s still only modestly subsidized in comparison.

  222. 222
    SBW says:

    I was curious about actual data for the donor state meme –common knowledge doesn’t cut it — and found the following paper that lists:

    Federal Taxes Paid vs. Federal Spending Received by State, 1981-2005.

    http://www.taxfoundation.org/r.....22685.html

    I am looking around for a longer time period, if anyone can find something from post World War II until now, that would be even better.

    What’s really sad is that the older industrial states (Illinois, New York, New Jersey) have been getting screwed for decades — for California, positive until 1986, then it looks like the slow final descent of paid versus spending began in 1994. Hence — there are plenty of other states getting screwed more than California — how many of them have the level of seriousness in their budget crises?

    (I live in Nevada, which has a worse return than that California, although 85% of the state is federally owned. Go figure.)

  223. 223
    Blue Raven says:

    @Jose C: As I noted, without the IRA withdrawals, I wouldn’t get that large of a refund under my current income. And I rent, but I get no renter’s credit because I make too much. I pay income tax at this income level, thank you VERY little, with or without special penalties, so you ARE wrong about who pays income tax in this state. And the progressives aren’t our problem, it’s the no-tax-and-spend-on-our-cronies “conservatives.” They block funding the necessary costs of running this state every chance they get, which is about this time every year.

  224. 224
    omen says:

    Can anyone give me reasons I should feel sympathy?

    not really. feel free to continue to feel disdain. deep contempt of california is de rigueur for republicans. now that you’re a former, vestigial remnants of antipathy still remain. that’s probably normal. the tail of hatred will shrivel up and fall off soon enough. no hurry. it takes a while for the body to cleanse itself of GOP toxicity.

  225. 225
    Jose C says:

    @Blue Raven:

    You know, I’m going to go back and review the study I saw a few months back on this issue and make sure I read it right.

    I don’t disagree that the Republican minority obstruction has to end, but the problems run much deeper than that.

  226. 226
    piny says:

    Good comments, although a lot of you say I am full of it and don’t understand anything. Here is what I think I understand- your budget grows every year yet it is never enough, you have a fanatical group of Republicans who gum up the budgetary process, but your legislature is so gerrymandered and the 2/3 vote required for tax issues makes it possible to change anything, all the while many of the Democrats are also happy with nothing changing because they are in safely gerrymandered seats and completely beholden to union interests. Is that close?

    No. You’re still missing one important thing, which is that these initiatives wouldn’t have solved the fucking problem and would have made many other problems worse. So your rant about California’s refusal to pass them needs an update, too. With progessives as lazy as you, who needs tough love for honeybees?

    It’s not “union interests,” either; SEIU didn’t hamstring the economy. It’s the CDCR. If you want to do some actual research on California’s cash-flow crisis, start there. It’d give you a lot of good material on the moral and professional bankruptcy of our elected officials.

  227. 227
    Polish the Guillotines says:

    I voted no on all but 1F, which I realize is silly, but it’s as close to giving the bastards the finger that I could get.

    I have nothing to add that hasn’t been well-explained by others, except to say I agree we need to fix the structural problems with the state government, and that’s probably going to take a constitutional convention — which I favor.

    Oh, and if this crisis puts things on the table like beating back the Department of Corrections (50% of the general fund is for DCC salaries), putting diversion and drug rehab on the table instead of incarceration, then GOOD. The prison system in this state is FUBAR and costly.

    I should probably add that I’m what we refer to in these parts as “Decline To State”, which makes me non-affiliated to either party, though I lean Dem.

    Everything everyone else said about the wingnut hammer-lock on the budget is true. Also.

  228. 228
    omen says:

    @AhabTRuler:

    wow…that got me hot.

    err.. i meant that was smokin’.

  229. 229
    Martin says:

    California is essentially divided between the wealthy, liberal coastal enclaves and the rest of the state, which is slightly to the right of rural Georgia politically.

    That’s not quite true. Orange County (and parts of SD) is an animal all its own, and with 3 million people a pretty big factor in its own right.

    Here you have Club for Growth Republicans, lots of money and they don’t want to give a penny of it to anyone. There’s enough money here to drive statewide ballot initiatives and influence politics. They’re very different from the Republicans in the northeast corner of the state, and very different from the bay area wealth.

  230. 230
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    On behalf of the Nevada housing market, if you are a productive Californian who is not crazy, come on over. There are no income taxes and lots of standing inventory of nice 1500-2000 s.f. homes that you could probably pick up for under $100,000. You get free beer when you gamble, presented to you by pretty waitresses.

    If you are crazy, please stay in California.

  231. 231
    Andy K says:

    @Bender:

    Just like Michigan

    This is where I get to call bullshit: Republican State Senate. And in the 12 years prior to Granholm’s winning the Governor’s race, we had Republican John Fuckin’ Engler in that office, and that guy had either one state congressional chamber or the other controlled by his party the entire time he was in office.

    And when he got both chambers after he was reelected to his final term in ’98, he capped taxes way beyond his when his final term ended, and that’s got us hamstrung now.

  232. 232
    SBW says:

    BOB,

    Where do you live? In Nevada? We have our own budget problems here– measured per capita almost within striking distance of California’s — and with no income tax, the state merely steals from the counties (or school system pension funds) when times get rough. Different situation, but asinine in its own way.

  233. 233
    omen says:

    @Andy K:

    wasn’t nafta also a factor?

  234. 234
    Martin says:

    Sure, but California isn’t getting much in Ag subsidies. Most of the subsidies go to the big commodity crops- wheat, corn, soybeans, cotton, etc.- that are grown on enormous farms in the Midwest. But that’s not what California grows. Our big crops are mostly the things that the subsidies ignore, like fruits, vegetables, and nuts. The only exception is dairy, and that’s still only modestly subsidized in comparison.

    But because we’re a big Ag state, everyone assumes we’re raking in the cash, which is why I responded as I did. You’re absolutely correct, so again CA puts money in to support getting produce to the rest of the country but also has to pay extra taxes to the guys in the midwest to get produce back.

    Bottom line, California is far more self sufficient than most states. That’s true in terms of agriculture, natural resources, manufacturing, trade, and a host of other things. We even have our federally supported military bases – massive ones, even. I’m not suggesting we can live without the other 49, but for the most part, we don’t need to pay that much extra into the federal pool in order to get other states to support us, yet we pay a lot into the federal pool. So the state invests state dollars to help get food and goods to everyone else, we invest tax dollars into the federal pool which aren’t reciprocated, and when the state budget gets fucked for reasons that, honestly, we can’t blame anyone else for, everyone tells us to fuck off, yet we aren’t allowed to tell Oklahoma and Alabama and Delaware to do without their Hondas and Wiis and oranges, nor can we ship them a few million illegals to go hang out in their emergency rooms and not pay their state taxes either. Those are things that they could change, but they too choose not to, yet it always comes down on CA and never on anyone else.

  235. 235
    The Raven says:

    Progressive responses in California:

    Courage Campaign
    Constitutional Convention

    (Both Calitics links, your one-stop shop for progressive activism in California.)

  236. 236
    BDeevDad says:

    Sounds like the only thing that can be done is to burn the government to the ground and rebuild.

    Now you understand CA politics. Problem is, the people that would write the new Constitution would make it so convoluted because the current pols would still be involved.

  237. 237
    Andy K says:

    @omen:

    Not nearly as much as the lack of innovation from GM, Ford and Chrysler. The Medium Three have been building cars and/or parts in Mexico and Canada for decades.

    And on my side of the state we’ve lost a lot of our office furniture manufacturing to the South. A few things have gone to Mexico since NAFTA, but not as much as you might think- though my friends from Greenville, former home of refrigerator makers Electroluxe, now in Mexico, might think NAFTA a larger factor than I do.

  238. 238
    Martin says:

    There are no income taxes and lots of standing inventory of nice 1500-2000 s.f. homes that you could probably pick up for under $100,000.

    Alaska has even cheaper houses and they pay you to live there. However, neither state has jobs for most of us. Conservatives again don’t understand what drives most people. Most people aren’t looking to save a buck, they’re looking to earn one. I could care less how much housing costs or what taxes are – I care about staying employed. Give me a decent job and the housing and taxes take care of themselves.

  239. 239
    jonas says:

    @Martin: You’re right: we don’t consider OC or northern SD county “rural/inland” parts of the state anymore. But a generation ago, they were, and not much has changed there in terms of political mentality. You also have a large retired military and defense industry community in both places, which adds to the evangelical/conservative base.

  240. 240
    Martian Buddy says:

    I would suggest that this is actually a tactical move on the part of the legislature. The next act in the drama will be for them to take a machete to the budget, accompanied by much public hand-wringing about how the failure of the budget propositions left them with no choice.

    (Or perhaps I’m giving them too much credit for intelligence — I’ll readily admit that I don’t follow Cali politics that closely.)

  241. 241
    The Populist says:

    I am a lifelong Californian who voted for these things. Why? Because I know what will happen when this state goes bankrupt. Many fellow Californians are fools. They cry when the state closes state parks and beaches early to save money. They whine when police get cut.

    My problem is this…we are cutting schools to a point where not ONE KID will learn shit the way it’s going. Teachers and cops will continue to be laid off. Gangs, drugs and crime will take over AND all because some a-hole is mad if he has to pay his FAIR SHARE versus paying Prop 13 tax rates.

    Guess what? I pay the regular tax on my home. Why is it fair that cops and teachers get laid off because somebody is NOT paying their fair share?

    John is right. We are a weird state. Full of useless dems and asshole righties. Our US Senators are okay, our governor is a schlub with an occasional good idea (that is until he flip flops). Yet, I live in orange county and put up with the loser Ed Royce as my congresscritter and have to watch a-holes like Rohrabacher say dumb things about all kinds of issues. The OC is confusing. I grew up here, left and came back. Why? I like living near the beach and the areas in L.A. are either too crowded, too expensive or too polluted. So I watch my fellow OC homeowners buy into the bullshit that they spew because they are died-in-the-wool rightwingers who have no idea the mess they are creating.

    Next time I hear one of them whine there aren’t enough police, I will laugh loudly.

  242. 242
    binzinerator says:

    @John Cole:

    The message is not “get back to work, legislature.”

    I don’t get that either. It seems to me the ballot initiative/direct democracy thingie means the people of California voted to take over the budgeting job of the legislature, and now they’re mad because the legislature isn’t doing it?

    With the 2/3 requirement for budgets they handed the keys to the engine of the state to a minority of magical thinking anti-tax wingnuts, and the wingnuts aren’t going to give them back.

    It seems in a sense a back-story of what happened to the entire country: Magical thinking and too many who suspended their disbelief. I think when Governor Reagan became President Reagan probably marks when that kind of thinking was adopted nationwide.

  243. 243
    The Populist says:

    On behalf of the Nevada housing market, if you are a productive Californian who is not crazy, come on over. There are no income taxes and lots of standing inventory of nice 1500-2000 s.f. homes that you could probably pick up for under $100,000. You get free beer when you gamble, presented to you by pretty waitresses.

    I was in Nevada last week. No way in hell would I move there. Vacancies are piling up and your schools suck. Guess you get what you pay for, right?

  244. 244
    jager says:

    OC is a republican fantasy…designed, planned and developed by the Irvine Company and a handful of other developers…huge tracts of homes that are not part of any city or town depending on the county for police and fire and other services. OC has I think the 2nd largest sheriff’s department in the USA…It is conservative heaven and religious wacko world headquarters.

    As Buffet said before he was drummed out of Arnold’s campaign, “It doesn’t make any sense that I pay less property tax on my million dollar house here (modest by OC standards) than I do on my 500 thousand dollar house in Omaha”. Prop 13 is God in OC and thou shalt not question its wisdom, ever! OC government is owned by the developers…I’m hoping they’ll all take it in the ass and the sooner the better. There is no sense of community in OC or in most parts of So Cal, the attitude is fuck you, I’ve got mine and absolutely no sense that anything that happens in Sacramento is of any importance except any talk of a tax increase and when that happens the pitchforks come out and the finger pointing starts…anything else, fuck it, who cares!

  245. 245
    The Populist says:

    I would suggest that this is actually a tactical move on the part of the legislature. The next act in the drama will be for them to take a machete to the budget, accompanied by much public hand-wringing about how the failure of the budget propositions left them with no choice.

    I throw my hands in the air now. The hard right in this state want to kill education and they will do it now.

    Don’t whine when your kids is not lerning fella Calfornans, LOL…ROFLMAO… (spelling intentional).

  246. 246
    The Populist says:

    OC is a republican fantasy…designed, planned and developed by the Irvine Company and a handful of other developers…huge tracts of homes that are not part of any city or town depending on the county for police and fire and other services. OC has I think the 2nd largest sheriff’s department in the USA…It is conservative heaven and religious wacko world headquarters.

    I don’t disagree but I prefer the scenery to L.A. anyday. I just tune out the idiots (as hard as it is sometimes).

    Let them choke. If OC suffers, the cops get cut. The whiners cry and let them. I don’t know what else to say anymore because people have gone insane. What sucks is that everybody’s greed fucks over the youth that deserve to get educated.

  247. 247

    And then we have idiots like Meg Whitman putting out talking points warmed-over from Arnold’s 2003 campaign. You’d think she’d have learned from his rude awakening.

    For instance, she makes sweeping pronouncements like “we can cut the state employment force by 10% across the board” without seeming to have a clue what comprises the state employment force nor how it is funded. For a good article on the subject, see George Skelton’s February piece in the LA Times:

    Ardent anti-taxers say the governor and Legislature should simply whack the “bloated” bureaucracy by 10%. Even 20% if need be. Lay off and cut pay. Pare benefits too. After all, private companies are doing it. . . . Well, you could fire every state worker under the governor’s control and the savings wouldn’t come close to balancing the budget. . . According to the state budget document, there is the equivalent of 205,000 full-time jobs controlled by the governor. There actually are more workers than that because some are part-time. Do the math based on 16 months, since that’s now the time frame of the projected deficit, assuming a balanced-budget package could be implemented by March 1. . . You could lay off all those state workers — rid yourself of their pay and benefits — and save only $24.4 billion. . . .Meanwhile, you would have dumped 160,000 convicted felons onto the streets because all the prisons were closed after the guards and wardens were fired. There’d be no Highway Patrol because all the officers were canned. State parks would be closed because there were no fee-collectors or rangers. . . .Truth is the savings wouldn’t even add up to $24.4 billion because some of those employees are paid out of small special funds that are self-sustaining. It’s the big general fund that suffers the deficit. But let’s say the books could be shuffled mysteriously and all that savings realized. You’d still need a lot more.

  248. 248

    Darned blockquote.

  249. 249
    goblue72 says:

    Blah, blah, blah, California sucks, blah, blah, blah.

    We are 12% of the U.S. population. That’s over 1 in every 10 Americans. Our economy is responsible for 13% of U.S. GDP. We are the fifth largest supplier of agricultural commodities in the entire world. The above facts can be found via Google (Mountain View, CA), using Mozilla Firefox (Moutain View, CA) run on a Macbook (Cupertino, CA), while enjoying John Cole’s latest favorite bean, Peet’s Coffee (Berkeley, CA).

    So yes, we may have some frakked up problems, but we aren’t going anywhere, and because of the above, our problems are your problems. As opposed to Rhode Island, which could be sucked up by a gravitational singularity and no one would notice. Except maybe the Farrelly Bros.

    While its convenient to blather about how California’s problems would just go away if we undid Prop. 13, ballot propositions and batshit insane Republicans, there are some specifics on how we got here:

    1. The 2003 Recall – State GOP nutjobs, bankrolled by Rep. Darrell Issa, sponsored a recall petition of then Gov. Grey Davis (D), who if you looked up Party Hack in the OED, it has his picture. This occurred at the time of two major events. First, during one of California’s regular budget crisis and deadlocks – this time due to falling revenues as a result of the Dot Com Bust. Second, and more importantly, political fallout from the state’s energy crisis in previous years that yielded statewide “rolling blackouts.” Without getting into too much detail, the de-regulation crowd got Cali to de-regulate its electric utilities, the state signed various long-term contracts with electric companies, a bunch of energy trader crooks at places like Enron then manipulated the hell out of the market, and Cali got totally screwed. When we went to President Bush to get FERC to step in and smack the jerkoffs around, he laughed at us, slapped his buddy Ken Lay on the back and told us to drop dead. Also, the selfish electorate was mad because Davis raised vehicle license fees back to the maximum 2% of value. I think this averaged like $130-$140 per car annually, or a little over $10 a month. It cost us like $6B a year in lost revenue.

    So we got a recall that included Gary Coleman and a porn star, a fading action hero as Governator, and the license fees got dropped back down. (The last one creating a giant hole in future budgets.) Yay!

    Post-script – Present day, now Arnie wants to close the budget gap by raising the license fees to…2%.

    2. Bonds, bond, bonds – As a complete outsider, having absolutely no political base and thus no real political power within his own caucus, let alone the opposition party, the Governator can’t get any real fixes to the state budget passed. So he charged it. And the Democratic leadership was happy to play along as they got free goodies for their constituents. Republicans were happy too, for basically the same reasons. Yay! Can we have Jerry Brown back now?

    3. Did I mention bonds? – Not wanting to be left out of the party, various interest groups also got bond measures passed for their pet projects. Like sending a big FU to Bush and funding a $3 billion stem cell program. While California (like every other state) issues GO Bonds to fund certain truly needed statewide programs, the last 10 years or so it seems to have just exploded. Yay – everyone wins!

    4. Prisons – OK, so this is more a long term structural problem. Over the last 15 years, our prison populatin has grown THREE times the rate of our general adult population increase. The DOCR now consumes over 7% of the state budget. Yay!

    5. Booming and busting – California has always been far more a boom-and-bust state than most – its been that way ever since the Gold Rush. And as the country is no experiencing the hangover from the Mother Of All Bubbles, our hangover is worse than most. This is what happens when Wall Street geniuses figure out a way to make real estate double in value every 24 hours. A bubble everyone but Robert Schiller, Dean Baker and Nouriel Roubini bought into at the time. Where was this bubble most concentrated – Cali. Where has it popped worst – Cali.

    6. I could go one, but none of this is to excuse us. More illustration that its complicated, layered, affected by larger events, and certainly made all the worse by us Californians acting like boobs half the time. (We do get it right sometimes. Obama is about to adopt our auto efficiency standards for the whole country.)

  250. 250
    James says:

    but your legislature is so gerrymandered and the 2/3 vote required for tax issues makes it possible to change anything, all the while many of the Democrats are also happy with nothing changing because they are in safely gerrymandered seats

    Everything else you said was right on the money except this. California has term limits. So on top of everything else you detailed that is so fucked up about Cali politics, term limits insure that we never have anything but a bunch of amateurs sitting out their term, each with their eye on where they are going next. Consequently, none of them can write a bill, there are no coalitions possible, nor longtime associations, no horse-trading to get anything done, nothing. Just a bunch of amatuers, and pretty rich ones because it costs a lot just to run for a state seat. Not the “citizen legislator” Mr. Smith Goes To Sacramento that voter envisioned in their delusional California dreamin’.

    After the initiative process, term limits is the NEXT most destructive thing in Cali politics, even worse than Prop 13.

  251. 251
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    Nevada used to have the 2nd highest per capita income, after Connecticut. I am sure the influx of illegal immigrants has dropped the income of the population significantly and reduced the quality of the schools. I just found a very nice 4 bedroom stick-built home for $93,000. The property taxes on this home are under $2k/yr. I do believe that Nevada’s unemployment rate is below California’s, but on this one I could be wrong.

    If the local and state governments are broke, this is good. It forces them to stay small and out of people’s business. You do not want talented people to aspire to become government workers.

  252. 252
    piny says:

    Yup.

    Thing is, we are America. Our problems are pretty much the problems of the national political process. (Did I hear someone say real-estate bubble?) So, no, I don’t have to take this from any American who lives in a marginally saner state, unless they spent the past dozen years or so chained to Newt Gingrich’s radiator. That’s why you should have sympathy.

  253. 253
    BDeevDad says:

    @Martian Buddy: As a Californian, you’re giving them too much credit for intelligence. When Warren Buffett pays more in property tax for his home in Nebraska than his beach house in CA, you know there is a problem.

  254. 254
    maye says:

    FYI: California 48 (Orange County) went for Obama in 2008.

    And just a reminder about the ballot initiative process: the way it works is you pay people $7 an hour to stand in grocery store parking lots and collect signatures on a petition. That’s how something gets on a ballot. That’s how our previous governor got recalled and we got a movie star put in charge of our government.

  255. 255
    Pennypacker says:

    Sounds like the only thing that can be done is to burn the government to the ground and rebuild.

    Nice metaphor but WTF does that mean exactly? I don’t believe there’s a “reset budgetary process” button sitting anywhere in Sacramento. Should we hold another special election to replace the governor?

    Signed,

    -A Californian

  256. 256
    bartkid says:

    >The Assembly voted 47-18 for SBX3-8, but because tax matters require a two-thirds vote for passage, it failed. All Assembly Democrats voted for it, while 18 Republicans voted against it and 13 more Republicans failed to vote on it despite being present at the State Capitol today.

    What am I missing?
    47 plus 18 = 65.
    47 divided by 65 = 72%.
    72% > 2/3 (67%).

    The 13 who failed to vote shouldn’t be part of the calculation.

    What Rules of Order does the Cali legislature follow?

  257. 257
    Darkrose says:

    @anonymous:

    Can I just say that as a new California voter, this stuff is beyond confusing. I got my ballot early (I vote absentee) so I had some time to study the initiatives. I am a busy parent not a full-time legislator and figuring out the fiscal impact of redirecting funds from previous ballot initiatives is byzantine.

    This.

    I’m a fucking help desk slob. I don’t have a law degree, or a PhD in economics. I’m reasonably intelligent, but figuring out the real impact of all of those ballot measures was way over my head, even after sitting down and doing some research.

    The thing is that deciding on the minutia of the budget isn’t my job. California is trying to have representative and direct democracy existing in the same system. It doesn’t work; it’s never worked, and the only way to fix this state’s problems is to overhaul the process.

  258. 258
    bartkid says:

    >um, WHICH crazy minority controls the power of the government in DC now?

    As Max Kieser calls ’em, the banksters.

  259. 259
    cyntax says:

    Sounds like the only thing that can be done is to burn the government to the ground and rebuild.

    Or to put it more constructive terms, check out what the people at Calitics have to say:

    With the predictable failure of the five budget propositions, it’s time for progressives to step up and lead the fight to not only fix our budget, but replant the seeds of economic growth, and rebuild confidence in our government.

    There are two broad elements of a May 20 strategy – policy and attitude. As President Obama has demonstrated, they must be intricately linked to be effective.

    Voters rejected a campaign of fear. They showed they won’t respond to scare tactics. Either they’ll vote no, or stay home. Progressive organizations, like the Courage Campaign, instinctively understand that. We organize to empower and offer solutions.

    Despite what some like to claim, progressives have always had an alternative to the May 19 initiatives in mind. The Courage Campaign has proposed a three-step process to fix the state…

    [link to complete article]

  260. 260
    Neo says:

    I knew this was coming …

    In a case of belated “I told you so”, former Gov. Gray Davis sounded vindicated.

    “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.”

    Gee, you could change “state” to “country” and it would sound like at slap at the Congress and the POTUS.

  261. 261
    NLB says:

    I’m live in California, voted for the ballot initiatives, against Prop 8, and against the wingnut Repub who represents my district. You couldn’t be more correct in your characterization of this bizarre state. I’m so sick of the anti-tax hysterics that I can’t see straight anymore. We all suffer because of their batshit craziness.

  262. 262
    Darkrose says:

    @flavortext:

    as a college student I could definitely see higher education getting fucked over under a spending cap. The number of high school grads going to college is growing, the number of spaces in the UC and CSU is not keeping up with that growth, and the UC budget keeps getting slashed, even in good times. They’re raising fees nearly $700 for next year, which means that I will have seen a fee increase in each of my 4 years here, even though two of those years were relatively good economically. Legislators can go screw themselves.

    Get ready for even more fun. The overpaid asshats on the Board of Regents are almost certainly going to use the election results as an excuse to implement staff furloughs. The most likely result is that the campuses affected will have to shut down completely on the furlough days. You need to go to the library? Too bad. Network’s down? I’ll be at home.

    Meanwhile, Mark Yudof is making $850,000 a year, which doesn’t include the UC President’s Mansion in Marin.

  263. 263
    NLB says:

    I live in California, voted for the ballot initiatives, against Prop 8, and against the wingnut Repub who represents my district. You couldn’t be more correct in your characterization of this bizarre state. I’m so sick of the anti-tax hysterics that I can’t see straight anymore. We all suffer because of their batshit craziness.

  264. 264
    Martin says:

    What am I missing?
    47 plus 18 = 65.
    47 divided by 65 = 72%.
    72% > 2/3 (67%).
    The 13 who failed to vote shouldn’t be part of the calculation.

    The 13 who failed to vote DO count. Remember the screaming over Obama’s ‘present’ votes? In Illinois, ‘present’ is a vote to say ‘I should be part of the number used to calculate majority, but I abstain from a vote’. That’s automatic in the CA legislature.

    So it was 47 votes out of 78. See, the GOP doesn’t even need to oppose things to stop the Democrats from fixing this problem, they just need to not show up. And note how not a single Republican thought that yacht buyers should pay sales tax. None of them could cross that line. In the last budget move, the GOP leader got canned in the middle of the night because he wanted to compromise with Arnold. It’s a situation that occurs because of the 2/3 rule as much as because CA republicans are assholes.

  265. 265
    Martin says:

    The overpaid asshats on the Board of Regents are almost certainly going to use the election results as an excuse to implement staff furloughs. The most likely result is that the campuses affected will have to shut down completely on the furlough days. You need to go to the library? Too bad. Network’s down? I’ll be at home.

    That’s how things are looking to us too. And they aren’t staff furloughs, it’s faculty as well. Their salary constitutes the majority of the budget, so not including faculty is pointless, and closing the campus but paying the faculty is just stupid.

  266. 266
    Martin says:

    Nice metaphor but WTF does that mean exactly? I don’t believe there’s a “reset budgetary process” button sitting anywhere in Sacramento. Should we hold another special election to replace the governor?

    No, we should hold a constitutional convention, rewrite the state constitution which would toss all of the initiatives passed thus far out the window, retool the initiative process to be massively less fucked up – higher requirement to get on the ballot, supermajority to pass, at least for some things, and no ability for taxpayers to increase state liability without a commensurate increase in revenue.

    Basically, start over and eliminate the elements that hamstring both the public and the legislature, such as a system that makes it nearly impossible to revoke ballot initiatives, and a provision that taxpayers cannot directly impact the general fund since we know fuckall about it. We can approve spending so long as we approve a means to pay for it at the same time, and we can approve a reduction in revenue so long as we approve a reduction in expenses at the same time, but voter approved items exist in their own budget space unless some kind of supermajority is achieved.

  267. 267
    cyntax says:

    @Pennypacker:

    Calitics has some good info on that, and what to do next. Long story short it’s time for a Constitutional Convention and time to get rid of that 2/3rds majority for budget changes and taxes.

  268. 268
    The Populist says:

    For instance, she makes sweeping pronouncements like “we can cut the state employment force by 10% across the board” without seeming to have a clue what comprises the state employment force nor how it is funded. For a good article on the subject, see George Skelton’s February piece in the LA Times:

    Yep, this is the same woman that ran Ebay into the ground.

  269. 269
    The Populist says:

    If the local and state governments are broke, this is good. It forces them to stay small and out of people’s business. You do not want talented people to aspire to become government workers.

    Idiot…then you get the sheeple who run things like the DMV. You know, it’s just a job so why should I work harder is the attitude.

    I hate people like you, I really do. If Government is IN my business, maybe it’s because asshats like you allow them to be. Don’t tell me who I can marry. Legalize pot. Allow me to die with dignity. If I am NOT hurting anybody why do you fucking care?

    Asshats like YOU BRICK OVEN JERKWAD are why this country is on life support. Oh yes, government should be smaller!?!?!?!? Why so I should have to stand in longer lines to meet with my city’s business division so I can work out my license every year? Why? So they have excuses to sell off public lands and roads to low ball private industry to gouge me to use it?!?!?!

    Sorry dude. YOU are the problem. Talented people should be allowed to work in government and if they do well, get paid for it like any industry. It means people are DOING A JOB that BENEFITS THEIR CUSTOMERS. WE are the customer idiot.

    What about teachers and children? Should they suffer with low pay and crap classrooms because you don’t like the idea of paying taxes? Fuck you. Why is it you selfish asshats can’t SEE the damage you do?

    I don’t want socialism. I want the government that provides needed services, needed safety nets and needed security without worrying that they will be spying on my phone calls. I have nothing to hide but you maroons seem to care more about what people like me do everyday than “getting government off my back”.

    Fuck you dude.

  270. 270
    TenguPhule says:

    If the local and state governments are broke, this is good. It forces them to stay small and out of people’s business. You do not want talented people to aspire to become government workers.

    The depressing thing is, BOB and the GOP are one on this point.

  271. 271
    Pug says:

    I voted a straight “no” ticket to send a message to my “Legislators” (D & R) that they need to get off their asses and do the job we elected them to do. It pisses me off to no end that they get paid to make the very hard decisions—including raising taxes and cutting services—and then they just in essense say (auraulize the voice of Neil from the “Young Ones” here)

    Don’t scapegoat the politicians Coffeegirl. Look in the mirror. The legislators can’t make the tough decisions you demand because of initiatives passed by you, the voters.

    They can’t raise taxes because you voters now require a two thirds majority to do that, not to mention that little property tax thing a few decades back, Prop 13. They can’t cut spending because you voters have directed them on how much they are required to spend on everything from education to health care to prisons and anything else you can imagine.

    You’ve even made things like land use policy your business. Know a lot about land use policy, Coffegirl? Niether does anyobody else, but that hasn’t stopped you from voting on it, has it? The iniative process is a complete failure and until the voters of California get rid of it nothing will change and it won’t be the politician’s fault. It’s the voters fault. If it makes you feel better, though, go ahead and rant about the politicians.

  272. 272
    Mayken says:

    @Dork: Please, oh, please, do not even joke about that right now. We’ve had a series of small quakes in SoCal over the last few weeks and most of us know what that means…
    As far as the whole budget mess, yes, Calif is an example of a Dem-lead legislature that still lets a Repug minority be the boss. But as we have too many safe Dems it is hard to shake them up. And the term limits that were supposed to help have only made our so-called representatives more beholden to the big-money interests. It’s unconscionable that the richest state in the country can’t find a way to balance it’s frakkin’ budget and that a small group of wingnuts can keep us all on our knees.
    Redistricting in a new format is coming in 2010. I have high hopes for it doing us some good, though not holding my breath just yet.
    BTW: the ballot measures all sucked ass, including the one and only that passed.

  273. 273
    Mayken says:

    @JGabriel: Just as long as I don’t have to be in the same state as The Orange Curtain or the folks east of us. Ventura is a bit on the conservative side but if you keep us in the same state as Santa Barbara I’ll be happy.

  274. 274
    Comrade Luke says:

    Here’s what I don’t get.

    When Davis was governor everyone was up in arms and had him removed from office. They replaced him with a Hollywood celebrity and today the state’s in even worse shape.

    Why isn’t anyone calling for the governator’s head?

  275. 275
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    @Comrade Luke:

    Why isn’t anyone calling for the governator’s head?

    Because with the Insane Clown Posse that is the California State Legislature the job of California Governor is just about as ceremonial as Queen of Denmark.

  276. 276
    Mayken says:

    @Comrade Luke: Because he is out in a few months (term limits) so it would be counter-productive to spend time and money to recall him.
    But why we re-elected his worthless ass is an open question…

  277. 277
    Martin says:

    Because with the Insane Clown Posse that is the California State Legislature the job of California Governor is just about as ceremonial as Queen of Denmark.

    I think this is largely true. Additionally, remember that Davis’ recall came pretty soon after the energy shitstorm, which wasn’t really his creation, and which Bush and his band of assholes deserves as much or more blame for. The failings of the state aren’t nearly as visible now as the days when there wasn’t a traffic light working in LA, but the problems are actually much more serious. I think back then, the public generally assumed the governor had more power, but that understanding has shifted now.

  278. 278
    robertdsc says:

    I was glad to vote the entire slate down yesterday, including 1F. Why? I’d rather have an across the board pay freeze for the legislators than only when running deficits.

    Still, fucked up state and all, I love it here.

  279. 279
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    @robertdsc:
    California will take you as you are. That’s all it needs to do.

  280. 280
    HyperIon says:

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    4 bedroom stick-built home for $93,000. The property taxes on this home are under $2k/yr.

    i don’t know what a stick-built home is but these numbers remind me of how low property taxes are in Seattle. my house is assessed at almost 3 times that amount and yet i pay about $2.2/yr. i noticed that millage is high in Fla also.

  281. 281
    Nathanael says:

    Actually, the redistricting procedure for the California legislature was just changed — by ballot initiative — to something resembling a reality TV show.

    One could hope that the total destruction of the traditionally gerrymandered districts will shake things up. If California can wait that lont.

  282. 282
    Nathanael says:

    i don’t know what a stick-built home is

    Wood frame and drywall. No brick or concrete (except the foundation), no solid wood, no stone, no steel. Cheapest current construction method.

  283. 283
    Martin says:

    my house is assessed at almost 3 times that amount and yet i pay about $2.2/yr. i noticed that millage is high in Fla also.

    At the peak, my house was almost 9 times that with taxes under 3K. That’s what Prop 13 did to revenues.

  284. 284
    Batocchio says:

    John, some of the measures were horrible (see the Calitics analysis), some of us are fighting all this crap and for fundamental reform, and today on the radio I heard some people talk about “re-founding” the state as has been done in the past. That might be basically the same as “burning it all down,” but consider that the main problem is that the GOP is batshit crazy and evil, and that’s a national problem (although you could say Nixon and Reagan really kicked it off). What makes California different is the horrendous set-up that allows the crazy and evil to stall things even easier than on the national level. So basically, I agree with much of what you’re saying, but do target your blame, please -and I’m concerned CA well might pull the country down with it. The CA Dem party deserves some selective scathing criticism too for past and current abuses, but they’re pikers compared to the CA GOP (“the yacht party”).

  285. 285
    Roger Moore says:

    @Martin:

    Conservatives again don’t understand what drives most people. Most people aren’t looking to save a buck, they’re looking to earn one.

    That’s because the Conservatives who think that way have never had to work. They inherited their money from their rich granddads and live on the interest. They’ll never have to move to where the jobs are, because they can cash checks from the trust fund anywhere. All they care about is low taxes, because that’s the surest way of boosting their income.

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    bob h says:

    As a resident of taxed-to-death New Jersey, I would like to know more about average property taxes in California. I’d bet they are quite a bit lower than ours. So California, just take care of your own problems and don’t expect a helping hand from the rest of us.

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