In an unusual twist, today’s Los Angeles Times endorsed both Propositions 57 and 58, the twin budget-rescuing referenda pushed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Times still thinks that tax increases will be necessary, but at least agrees with Arnold that the road to fiscal sanity starts on the March ballot:
Even with Proposition 57 and Schwarzenegger’s proposed cuts, the state still faces a deficit of $6 billion or so in its next budget. Schwarzenegger, unlike most of the Legislature’s Republicans, has never said “never” to taxes. His next campaign may be inside the Capitol, persuading members that more cuts and a modest temporary tax are unavoidable. But Proposition 57 and its companion, Proposition 58, must pass first to clear the decks.
Schwarzenegger clearly said to Tim Russert on last week’s Meet the Press that he would only consider new taxes in an emergency, and ticked off a few that the previous Republican governor, Pete Wilson, faced during his tenure: earthquakes, floods, forest fires, and riots. Absent any of that, Arnold said, and he would not support new taxes. He pointed out that in the previous five years, California tax revenue increased 29%, only to be outstripped by a spending increase of 43%.
Taxes are clearly not the solution as revenues are clearly not the problem. Profligate spending has brought California to this pass, and now, with the worst bond rating of any state in the nation, their hopes are tied to a bonding issue that will only increase their debt. It’s still the right move, but the Times and everyone else should realize by now that you can’t spend your way out of debt. California must be made to live within its means. That includes reducing an oppressive worker-comp regimen so that small business can thrive and create jobs, and entitlement spending must be corraled and brought under control.
Unfortunately, politicians don’t get elected by telling people “no”, except under unusually bad circumstances. Let’s hope that Arnold sticks to his “no” and gets California back on its feet again.
UPDATE: Lt. Smash has the low-down on the California referenda here.