Californians get stuff wrong just too damn often. Last year, it happened with Proposition 8, the anti-gay-marriage initiative. And this year, it looks like it's going to happen again with Propositions 1A to 1F. For the past few months, liberals and conservatives have skewered the budget compromise measures nonstop. Progressives don't like the spending cap, and the right-wing hates the tax increases. Not surprisingly, amid all this harsh criticism from both sides, a majority of state voters appears poised to vote down the ballot measures on Tuesday. If they do, they'll be inviting disaster.
Props 1A to 1F represent several months of hard work and countless hours of negotiations by Democratic leaders, the governor, and a handful of brave Republican legislators. The measures aren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination. We don't like the spending cap in Prop. 1A either. But it was the price to pay to get the support of a small number of Republicans. It was a classic compromise; both sides gave up on issues they held dear and agreed to things they disliked in order to finally reach an agreement. It's how government is supposed to work.
A quick rundown: Prop 1A caps spending, increases the state's rainy-day fund, and extends recent tax increases. Prop. 1B provides education funding. Prop. 1C lets the state borrow against future lottery revenues. Prop. 1D transfers some Prop. 10 tobacco tax money to the general fund. Prop. 1E moves some Prop. 63 mental health money to the general fund. And Prop. 1F prohibits raises for state public officials in deficit years.
Now, if voters scuttle this entire deal, they'll be sending a message that compromise is a waste of time, or worse, a risk not worth taking. Republicans will have no incentive to move toward the center, and any hope of future tax increases will be off the table. Moderate Republicans, already a vanishing breed, will have no reason to strike deals with Democrats. Why should they when voters say, "Don't bother?"
All of which makes the left-wing's opposition to the measures more confounding. Our Democratic leaders work for months on a deal, finally get one by coaxing a few Republicans to cross the aisle, and now we're going to tell them that it was all a waste of time? When you think about it, it's madness. This incessant demand for ideological purity — on both sides — is what causes governmental gridlock in the first place.
As if that weren't bad enough, the defeat of the measures will create a $6 billion to $8 billion budget hole. According to the nonpartisan Legislative Analysts Office, the state now faces an additional $15 billion deficit because of the economic crisis. So we're going to tell Sacramento to fix another $23 billion problem without compromise? How's that supposed to work exactly?
Help stop the madness. Vote Yes.
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