I’d been mulling the meaning and fallout from the tea parties and in a conversation with a friend, suggested that the fate of the Governator and Legislature-sponsored budget initiatives in California might be a litmus test.
If I were organizing the tea parties, I said, I’d be busting a** to defeat them, and force the issue of state budgetary incompetence.
Well, along comes a Field poll, which suggests that what I’d contemplated is really happening:
Voters strongly oppose five special election measures being sold as a budget-reform elixir for California’s burgeoning $40 billion deficit.
But voters in a new Field Poll overwhelmingly support a measure to bar legislators and state officers from getting a pay raise when there is a budget deficit.
And with heightened surliness, they’re telling Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature that they’re fed up with more government spending and higher taxes.
Which kind of supports my notion, and is picked up on by Hugh Hewitt:
Forget Arlen Specter. The most important political message of this season is going to come out of California in three weeks.
…which could be true. Or not.
Because there is also opposition to the initiatives from the left. Here’s former gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides in the LA Times:
But it’s worse than that. The measure would actually deepen California’s budget woes. It would require that money be stashed away in a rainy-day fund even though the state is already pulling in less money each year than it spends. That’s a little like telling a family facing foreclosure that they’re not putting enough money away in their 401(k) account. Even in tough budget years, it would force additional cuts of more than $1 billion — an amount equal to about one-third of the University of California system’s budget.
Proposition 1A would squeeze spending on crucial investments in colleges and healthcare, and it would prevent the state from restoring needed programs as the economy rebounds. It also would lock confusing, complicated, autopilot budget language into the state Constitution — making it harder, not easier, to adopt common-sense budgets. With complex formulas and linear regression models cemented into law, the already daunting task of budgeting would be that much harder.
Perhaps the greatest damage of Proposition 1A is that, by once again making a false promise to the people of California, it further erodes the trust necessary to achieve the two real changes needed to solve California’s budget woes: replacing the requirement that budgets be passed by a two-thirds majority with a simple majority vote to end the tyranny of an extreme, ideological minority, and actually adopting a balanced budget that meets California’s 21st century needs.
Phil is unhappy that a minority of legislators can keep the state unions from just driving up to the state treasury…
So the question for the day is whether it’s really the Tea Party rejectionists that will drive the vote, or if matters are more complex than that. I’d start by digging into the Field Poll internals…when I get the time.