Thursday, May 21, 2009

California Voters: A disapointment.

As a committed nonconformist I often find my votes on the losing side of the election. But I am particularly dismayed by the rejection of Proposition 1A. This is the second time voters have rejected a measure that would have helped even out the boom-bust cycles in state spending.

The biggest problem with the state budget is that legislators have often used increased revenues from good economic years to start new programs, instead of saving it for bad years. Prop. 1A, and the similar Proposition 56 in 2004, would have required the legislature to set up a larger reserve to keep things going in bad economic years. This week, as before, voters rejected the idea by a huge margin.

It appears that both times voters were just so angry with the legislature's fiscal irresponsibility that they voted NO as punishment. The irony, of course, is that by voting NO the voters were really saying no to the very type of budget discipline they say the legislature needs.

So just what are voters trying to say? Saving money for a rainy day is a bad idea? Given that on two occasions voters overwhelmingly said no to increasing the reserve fund, I guess that must be the case. If so, don't blame the legislature if your taxes go up and public services like roads, schools, parks, fire protection, unemployment benefits, and health care deteriorate in bad economic times, just when we need the services most.

"We have met the enemy... and he is us" -Pogo


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