Wednesday, May 20, 2009

California Voters: Bring on the Crisis

By Robert Gammon
Wed, May 20, 2009 at 6:49 AM

State voters sent a strong message to the governor and state legislative leaders last night, defeating five of six budget compromise measures by huge margins. The overwhelming defeat of the propositions will worsen the state's deficit from $15 billion to at least $21 billion and lead to painful, across-the-board cuts in government services. But the voters who bothered to vote didn't seem to care. In fact, many appeared to welcome another crisis, especially on the left, in apparent hope that it would lead to meaningful government reforms. But count us as skeptical. California Republicans aren't going to just roll over and agree to jettison the two-thirds vote requirement needed to pass a budget, just because liberals want them to. Instead, look for another long summer that ultimately will lead to the devastation of public services, from the closure of parks to the further gutting of education.

How bad was the defeat? Props 1A through 1F all lost by at least 25 percentage points, and none of them mustered more than 38 percent of the vote. The measures did especially poorly in right-wing strongholds, where the opposition to the budget compromise between our moderate governor and Democratic leaders was fierce. In conservative San Bernardino County, for example, most of the measures lost by more than 40 percentage points. By contrast, the vote was much closer in the East Bay. Alameda County voters, in fact, nearly approved 1B (50.5 to 49.5) and 1A wasn't that far behind (56-44). But the turnout was miserable. In Alameda County, just 22.7 percent of registered voters cast ballots.

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