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Failure of props A-E yields $21 billion hangover

by Raphael Sonenshein

May 20, 2009 | 7:26 pm

From out of the ashes…

Now that the voters have blown up the jury-rigged pack of ballot measures that were supposed to solve the budget crisis, we return you to our regularly scheduled catastrophe.  Voters of all stripes, and all regions, combined to throw out Measures A-E and to overwhelmingly support the punitive Measure F.  All 58 counties voted no on the first 5, and all 58 voted yes on F.  So the good news is that we are united!

The bad news is that we will wake up with a $21 billion hangover.  This is the amount that the state must find to close its deficit.  If you want to borrow a metaphor, remember “pre 9-11” and “post 9-11” mindsets?  Well now we have a pre May 19th and post.  Pre, we thought we could put together the governor, the Democrats, a few Republicans, and the voters and close the budget gap.  But now the voters have largely opted out.  The Republicans have tossed out their Senate and Assembly leaders for trying too hard to reach a budget deal that included tax increases.  The Gang of 5, the governor and the leaders, is now a gang of 3, with the two Republican leaders on a different team.  in this case, they cannot step in the same river twice.  The river has changed.

My guess is that this train wreck is going to help us fix California government once and for all.  All the gimmicks that have marked the Schwarzenegger era have now gone belly up.  Everybody has to look deep inside, and it’s time to think outside the box.  Whether it’s a constitutional convention, new ways to design budgets in the the existing system, or dramatic moves by leaders in either party, it’s time to cut a new path through the forest.

Sacramento runs up against this wall, and Los Angeles closes its budget deficit in a timely and professional manner.  Some of the LA officials are veterans of Sacramento.  Did they suddenly get wiser when they came to City Hall, or is it the system that creates disaster up there and relatively smooth governance down here?

Sometimes when the old tricks don’t work, the best new ideas emerge.  That’s what i am hoping for.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Raphael J. Sonenshein (born 1949 in Nutley, New Jersey) was a political science professor at California State University, Fullerton. He is also served as chairman of the...

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