California Voters Give Sacramento One More Chance to Balance the Budget

The clock is ticking on economic reforms in the Golden State.

It's official: Democrats have supermajorities in both the California state Assembly and Senate, meaning they can pass state tax increases without a single Republican vote. Voters got a head start on tax increases when they passed Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30, which raises the statewide sales tax as well as income taxes on upper incomes.

Some Democratic leaders are wisely trying to downplay some of their glee and promising newfound fiscal restraint rarely seen around Sacramento. "We have to make sure over the next few years that we pay our bills, we invest in the right programs, but we don't go on any spending binges," Gov. Jerry Brown said after the Nov. 6 election.

It's the first time since 1933 that a single party has controlled two-thirds of both the Senate and Assembly and the first time since 1883 the Democrats have had such majorities. "I promise that we will exercise this new power with strength, but also with humility and reason," Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said. "I certainly don't intend to suggest to my colleagues that the first thing we do with our new power is to go out and seek to raise more taxes."

If Democrats don't tackle the real causes of the budget deficit—state spending—lawmakers may find something most would never envision: California voters calling for Wisconsin-like budget and pension reforms.

An October Reason-Rupe poll saw that Prop. 30 was leading and asked likely voters across the state: "Suppose these tax increases in Prop. 30 are approved but do not end up eliminating California's budget deficit, what would you like the legislature to do next?"

Nearly three out of four, 74 percent, said they'd want the state to cut spending to balance the budget. Just 15 percent said raise additional taxes to eliminate the deficit and 4 percent said borrow more money.

Sure they want spending cuts, but how similar are California's voters to Wisconsin's? While Wisconsin is not as blue as California, the Democratic Party's presidential candidate has won Wisconsin in every election since 1988, and Wisconsin voters just elected Tammy Baldwin, who will be the first openly gay U.S. senator.

Earlier this year, just before Republican Gov. Scott Walker's recall election, which was prompted by organized labor's fierce reaction to cuts to government workers, the Reason-Rupe poll asked Wisconsin voters: "For new government employees who have not been promised pension benefits, would you favor or oppose shifting them from guaranteed pensions to 401(k)-style accounts?"

In Wisconsin, 69 percent of voters said they'd like to shift new government workers to 401(k)s. A few weeks ago, Reason-Rupe asked the very same question of California voters and got the very same result: 69 percent said shift government workers to 401(k)s. So before California's Democrats hatch any grand tax-and-spend plans, they should delve deeper into public opinion than just Proposition 30's success.

California's government spending increased 42 percent per capita, adjusted for inflation, from 2000 to 2010 according to the Tax Foundation. And yet, 52 percent of Californians say the growth in spending actually decreased the quality of life in the state, and 28 percent feel it made no impact. Just 14 percent of voters said California's government spending during that span improved the quality of life. Since government spending didn't improve the quality of life, 56 percent say they'd support taking per capita state spending back to what it was in 2000.

The Reason-Rupe's poll's sample was made up of 44 percent Democrats, 26 percent Republicans, and 24 percent independents. President Obama and Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein received overwhelming support, which goes to show large numbers of Democrats are part of this public coalition that is ready for real reforms, including spending cuts and pension reforms.

If Gov. Brown and his new supermajority ignore this undercurrent and instead opt for tax and spending increases, they'll be seriously misreading the public's mood and wishes.

This article originally appeared in the Orange County Register.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Most likely each Incan voter didn't individually pull his lever with the intent to give the Democrats a super majority. Technically he was only voting with his district's representative in mind, probably unaware on Election Day that his fellow voters in other areas were also going for their Democrats to the point they would end up with total control of the state.

    That being said, the plurality did vote left knowing how bad things were in the Golden State. They knew the Democrat plan to fight money problems is to raise taxes. I don't see a Wisconsin-style revolt to rein in government spending, regardless of what Californians say about its negative impact on them personally.

  • ||

    Incan?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    People in CA. Blame Sloopyinca for that reference.

  • ||

    Aha. I thought all that firsting had sent you over the edge.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Just because he has an explanation this time doesn't mean that's not true.

  • ||

    One day he will be discovered wallowing in his own excrement gleefully pounding on an F5 key.

  • sloopyinca||

    Probably tomorrow...launching a new term "Brown Friday".

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Thanks for that. Now I am going to cackle everytime I hear "Black Friday", thinking instead that it should be "Brown".

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Continuously refreshing is unnecessary when you have a watch. Which I don't have because I don't wear jewelry. But I do have a clock which tells me when 9:00AM EST is. I also have a calendar which tells me it's Thanksgiving and therefore NO A.M. LINKS TODAY. Turkeys.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Turkeys? No, no! See P.H.O.D's 8:34 AM below - those are turkeys!

  • Ted S.||

    Doesn't everybody's computer have a clock on it?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Who am I, Konrad Zuse? I don't know what everybody's computer has. Anyway, I access the internet with my mind. I'm totally jacked in and other 90's cyber references.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Californians will vote for a Republican as evidenced by the Governators two easy wins. They have just caught on to batshit crazy Conservatism and reject that.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Well that ought to work out well for them.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Don't worry, anything short of the streets being paved with gold and rainbows every day will still be the evil Rethuglican's fault.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    You can't pave a street with rainbows! Those are just for bridges, you silly goose.

  • sloopyinca||

    Rainbows are for sledding, you son of a silly man.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    I bow to your superiour rainbow knowledge!

  • sloopyinca||

    superiour

    Canadalert! Canadalert! Canadalert!

  • Whiterun Guard||

    I'm not Canadian!

    I work for Brits, and do a lot of the 'colour' 'defense' stuff.

    But that one is just a typo! That's not even a word.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Methinks the gentleman doth protest too much, eh?

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Can you really protest too much against being Canadian?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Hey, be careful. We're their Mexico.

  • Killazontherun||

    Just a long stretch of suburbs to the south.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Then consider me a Mexican't.

  • GroverinCA||

    I created an account on this website for the sole purpose of calling you an idiot. My response to your comment adds as much insight to the discussion of this article as yours does.

  • sloopyinca||

    Wow, you've been here once and already discovered PB is a fucking retarded moron.

    There may be hope for our state after all.*

    *But I doubt it.

  • GroverinCA||

    I'll cop to the fact that I'm a long time reader, but first time poster. PB / Shriek/ Dipshit's dipshittery finally pushed me over the posting edge.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    You will fit in well with the conservatives here. Just repeat Fat Rush's nonsense like you thought of it yourself.

  • GroverinCA||

    I'm not a conservative, and neither are 95% of the posters here. What are you thankful for, PB? The lack of reason?

    I repeat, you are an idiot.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Well quit defending them, you useless tampon.

    All I did was point out that California voters will vote for smaller government. It is not the voters fault Arnold failed to deliver much of it.

  • GroverinCA||

    I don't need to respond to your "point" because it was already shot down, above.

    You wake up in the morning, log on to Reason, troll the comments, and get off when people respond to your inanities.

    That is your life.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    So you are saying that he is a member of congress, then.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Most conservatives, ensconced in the anti-reality GOP bubble, experience a similar reaction.

    My comment simply noted that a GOP candidate won the highest state office in California twice in the last 10 years. Yet the perception is that California will only elect Democrats.

    This is a fact.

    Find a libertarian leaning major candidate and California would vote for him/her. NOT A CONSERVATIVE.

  • sloopyinca||

    No, your perception was that California rejected Conservatism, which is about as far from reality when you are talking about the California GOP.

    Schwarzenegger was a big government toady for the pubsec unions and the pension factory this state has become. Calling him a conservative is akin to calling Mitt Romney a conservative.

    But you already knew that, didn't you?

    Find a libertarian leaning major candidate and California would vote for him/her.

    On this one single statement, and nothing else, I totally agree with you.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    I don't. Not at all.

    I know you live there, but I think the previous election just proved you very wrong (though you can obviously debate the word 'major' when applied to GayJay). But even discounting that, I find it difficult to believe that a 'no free shit' candidate would be more than a statistical anomoly in your state.

  • sloopyinca||

    Perhaps I should have conditioned my support a bit better. If you can find a socially libertarian candidate that proposes some fiscal restraint, I think it could sell quite well in California. And I mean in the next cycle of elections, not in the recent past.

    The people out here are scratching their heads wondering what power they just gave up to the pubsec unions. They collectively are trying to kill HSR and want to cut much of the runaway spending. With the exception of the SF area and LA, the state has a moderate/conservative bent. And that could come out once the state either starts defaulting on debt or gets their credit rating droppped while trying to pay all of these poorly-negotiated legacy benefits.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    You are probably right, I read libertarian leaning much too strongly (especially on the fiscal side).

    Then again I'm also probably right, because I would WANT CA to have a libertarian leaning electorate, therefore it will never happen.

  • sloopyinca||

    How about we're both right and PB is totally wrong. How does that work?

  • Whiterun Guard||

    I knew there was a reason they gave you a license to reproduce!

  • VG Zaytsev||

    If you can find a socially libertarian candidate that proposes some fiscal restraint, I think it could sell quite well in California.

    Sure it could.

    The problem is finding a candidate that is a half way decent salesman for the ideas and that could survive destruction by the media-union-progressive machines.

    Maybe a young, good looking, latino, billionaire libertarian.

    Got any of those to run?

  • ||

    Does he need to be in the copper business?

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    1- I didn't call Schwarzenegger a conservative.

    2- Californians have rejected conservatism at the ballot box. Liberalism and secularism is embedded in the culture there like Fundieism is in the South.

    3- Arnold did try to curtail union strength in his 2005 ballot initiative.

    I lived in the Woodland Hills/Calabasas area back then.

  • sloopyinca||

    1. ZOOOOOOOM go the goalposts

    2. CA has the largest Catholic population in America and they vote like it. CA is infiltrated with "gimmie" liberals that vote to steal from other people. It has zero to do with secularism/religiousness.

    3. Hahahahahahaha. That ballot initiative he gave fleeting support to until it looked like it was going to fail? And it never was going to curtail it the way it was written, hence the tepid support from the more conservative elements in the state.

    4. Living somewhere hardly makes one an expert on their state's policies and/or government. Even a thick-headed water baby like you should know that.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    You defend conservatism while I defend classic liberalism.

    One of us is in the wrong place.

    And its not me.

  • Jordan||

    You defend statism, as always. Please point out where he defended conservatism.

  • Killazontherun||

    2. CA has the largest Catholic population in America and they vote like it. CA is infiltrated with "gimmie" liberals that vote to steal from other people. It has zero to do with secularism/religiousness.

    Catholicism is a bigger source of socialist indoctrination than even the public schools.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    The real tragedy of Schwarzenegger is that he could have gotten some serious structure reform through in his first couple of years if he would have fought for it.

    Something like changing CA to a unicameral legislature, eliminating the ridiculous independent commissions, public sector union reform or a unitary executive branch.

    The problem with the initiative that he sort of supported is that they were all half assed measure that really wouldn't have accomplished anything, but they enraged the public sector union beast.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    And I never called Romney a conservative. There is no evidence that he has any principles at all.

  • califernian||

    Find a libertarian leaning major candidate and California would vote for him/her.

    On this one single statement, and nothing else, I totally agree with you.

    You are both delusional. Californians absolutely crave left-wing authoritarianism. They lap it up. They will never EVER vote for a libertarian leaning candidate. They hate fear and despise freedom.

    Side note: Since Schwartzy was nowhere near a conservative on either social or fiscal issues, I can only assume that PB can't read, can't follow the news and may in fact be a child.

  • juris imprudent||

    You know as little about California Republicans as anything else not wedged up your sphincter.

  • ||

    Welcome to the club Grover. Invariably someone here calls Palin's Buttplug (also known as Shrike, Shriek, Shreek, Dipshit, Fuckstain and Asshole, along with a few other names I'm too polite to use) a fucking idiot nearly every time he posts.

  • Sevo||

    "Invariably someone here calls Palin's Buttplug (also known as Shrike, Shriek, Shreek, Dipshit, Fuckstain and Asshole, along with a few other names I'm too polite to use) a fucking idiot nearly every time he posts."

    Only because he deserves it.

  • GroverinCA||

    Thank you, Francisco. It would be fun to open It's head (with a cleaver?) to see exactly how It is able to type but not able to think clearly.

  • ||

    Shriek is a spoon. His only function is to stir the pot.

  • Aloysious||

    ^this.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Because borrowing and spending billions on a research project to spite federal policy is just the height of sanity.
    And borrowing and spending billions to build a bullet train to the middle of nowhere is even more sane.
    And doubling down on being a hostile environment for business when you're bleeding business is just the sanest.

  • Brutus||

    Is there such a thing as "batshit crazy" leftism on Planet Shriek?

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Of course.

    Equal outcome, comparable worth, gun bans, affirmative action, Modern Monetary Theory, import tariffs - to name a few examples.

  • Lewisite||

    You'll go out of your way to contrast any arguement, won't you? why?

  • Jordan||

    All of these are things that the "classical liberal" electorate in California supports.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    That being said, the plurality did vote left knowing how bad things were in the Golden State. They knew the Democrat plan to fight money problems is to raise taxes.

    Nope.

    The average, even above average intelligent, voter in CA has no idea how bad the state finances are, let alone what the democrats plan to do about them.

    All they know is that the republicans are icky old white guys (not one of us) and democrats are for the chillren, po lice and fire men.

  • Len Bias||

    This is so true.

    Californians have NO IDEA how bad things are in their state. Or, they assume that it's so much better than the rest of the country and that fly-over country is some sort of Mad Max-style wasteland.

    And, at least in the Bay Area, there is no real outward obvious signs of decline, so it will be a long time before there is any sort of wake up call to them. If ever.

  • juris imprudent||

    Ah, but that "wake up call" is going to be spectacular.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    OT: Brookline (Boston area) residents get chased by food instead of eating it.

    Onion, sage, rosemary and tyme.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Time to stand up and show where you rank on the food chain, Bahstahn suburbanites!

  • sloopyinca||

    Massholes are on their own food chain somewhere between baked beans and lobstah.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Everyone and everything is on the chain that leads into Menino's (mush)mouth.

  • Ted S.||

    As I mentioned yesterday, I had 19 turkeys in my driveway yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera right at hand. (I only have a dumbphone with no camera on it.)

  • Ice Nine||

    Have fun cleaning your driveway. Wild turkey shit is like epoxy glue.

  • Ted S.||

    Gravel driveway. I don't clean it the way one would clean a blacktop driveway.

  • fish||

    You need the Remington 870 app for your phone!

  • Ted S.||

    I'm trying to imagine how much recoil the cell phone would have.

  • ||

    How many did you bag?

  • Ted S.||

    I don't hunt. I wouldn't be good at field dressing the dead animals.

    Now if some of the people who do hunt my land bagged a turkey and wanted to give me some of the meat for my freezer, I certainly wouldn't mind.

  • Killazontherun||

    Just finished deep frying four Cornish hens. Now they're in the oven at low temperature soaking in a plum soy sauce.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    As Uncle Ned says "IT'S COMING RIGHT FOR US!" (BLAM!! BLAM!!)

  • ||

    “I went down to the hiking store and I got a hiking stick with a big ball on top of it. I walk with it all the time and now I never go without my phone,”

    Is she going to throw the phone at them?

  • robc||

    Good morning to any silly Canadians who wasted their Thanksgiving months ago!

  • Ted S.||

    Why are we supposed to care about Canadians?

  • Whiterun Guard||

    We're supposed to give thanks that we don't live there or something.

  • sloopyinca||

    OK, people. I'm off to do a 2 mile walk with Banjos for hunger and watch my son run his first 5k race on his own. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    You too - we'll say an additional prayer for Banjos and your Reasonoid-to-be.

  • Ted S.||

    Banjos is 8 months pregnant and doing a 2-mile walk? I'm impressed.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    The rest of the story is that Sloopy is just making her carry 1/4 of his palanquin.

  • fish||

    Now there is the "feel good" Thanksgiving comment of the day! Well done WG!

  • Voros McCracken||

    She's got some back invoices she has to pay up to Ken for marital duties and right now this is an easier way to pay off some of them.

  • waaminn||

    lol, wow I never thought about it like that before.
    www.Privacy-Max.tk

  • The Late P Brooks||

    One of us is in the wrong place.

    And its not me.

    Wow. Of all the monumentally stupid things you have ever said here, that may be the stupidest. But by all means, keep trying to tar us all with that Tea Fucking Rat Bagging Republikkkan!!! brush.

  • jeanysale@hotmail.com||

    OK, people. Have a Happy Thanksgiving. xcsfv www.jordanssalesshop.com

  • Sevo||

    "...Darrell Steinberg said. "I certainly don't intend to suggest to my colleagues that the first thing we do with our new power is to go out and seek to raise more taxes."..."

    He's right. That'll be second, right after they hand out the 'thank you' payoffs to the unions.

  • juris imprudent||

    No, the very first thing he had to do was squeeze one out of the woody.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    My sense is that California's problem is that it's become a state governed by a coalition of the dole mob and the guilty affluent. The dole mob is a coalition itself of those (obviously) on the dole, but also wide swaths of the population dependent on government subsidies - academics, the civil service, the entire CALPERS complex, etc. They want ever increasing shares of loot and they intend to get it however they can. On the other hand is the guilty affluent. Ultimately, they live in a world so far removed from the necessities of life that any discussions are the equivalent of fairy tales for the rest of us. For them, electricity is something that comes from the socket, gas is something that comes from the pump, healthcare is something you get at the doctor's office and food is something that comes from the supermarket. Policies that make these things less attainable have appeal for them because they are "nice". We'd all love it if we could get power from unicorn farts, our meals falling as mana from heaven or CAT scans grew on trees. But they don't. And the guilty affluent are so far removed both from these facts and the realities of economic scarcity that they have the luxury of pretending they do.

  • Sevo||

    "the guilty affluent."
    Somewhat OT:
    "Vanguard Foundation - idealists' collapse"
    ..."the foundation began as a collective in 1972, it was one of the first of its kind: a philanthropic organization founded by young heirs and heiresses, including members of the Pillsbury and du Pont families, who wanted to contribute their inheritances to progressive economic and social causes."
    http://www.sfgate.com/crime/ar.....058825.php
    Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of folks; they wanted to contribute their money to separate me from my money for their guilt. Fuck 'em.

  • AuH2O||

    The Rockafeller kids are the perfect example of this. Just so much damn money that they never have to care about things like taxes, especially because its all protected in tax sheltered trusts.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Why does all of this remind me of the collapse of 20th Century Motors in Atlas Shrugged?

  • AuH2O||

    You forgot the key part: food is something your nanny gets from the organic grocery store.

    I think even the middle class who get their gas from pumps or their food from supermarkets have some idea of the effect of regulation. They actually give a crap about price, because it effects them daily.

    But a multi-millionaire in Silicon Valley could care less if gas is a dollar more. I think its less the means of conveyance of the goods, and more the fact that price is utterly meaningless to them. I think that you were trying to get at that, just trying to hone your point a bit.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Thanks. Yes, you're dead-on right. And you put it much better than I did.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    What I was trying to describe wasn't the physical reality. Most of us get our electricity from the socket, our gas from the pump and our food from the supermarket. What I was trying to describe was the mindset. The mental separation of the product from the production process. If you come from a remotely middle or working class background (or if your reasonably perceptive - not many people are), you know people engaged in the act of production. You have a sense that these things aren't "just there" and that making them less available means something. For the guilty affluent? It's a blank stare.

  • califernian||

    I've often said that to the left, there are only two classes.

    1. So rich that you should have more taken from you.

    2. So poor that you need more money from the rich.

    California is very close to accomplishing that for real. It makes me shudder. It's seriously gotten to the point where making 200k means you are the 'enemy' to the left.

  • 16th amendment||

    If Democrats don't tackle the real causes of the budget deficit—state spending—lawmakers may find something most would never envision: California voters calling for Wisconsin-like budget and pension reforms.

    No way. CA voters might say they want pension reform, as your poll last week showed, but when they get to the voting booth they will not go with their brain. Similar to a spouse who says they abhor violence and have never and will never commit violence, when they catch their spouse cheating on them in the act, they might in the spur of the moment kill someone. That analogy describes CA voters.

  • Lyle||

    I like your analogy.

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