California in crisis: 2008 feels a lot like 2003
Gray Davis had just landed in Pennsylvania on a trip last June when he was struck by the differences between that state and the one whose voters drove him out of office early in his second term, blaming his leadership for state government failures that included deep debt and legislative paralysis.
Pennsylvania roads were clean. The state's budget was balanced. Lawmakers had socked enough away in a rainy-day fund to build what was then a decent surplus. Government seemed to run effectively. "It's not like other people can't do this," the former governor said recently.
But California government is arguably more dysfunctional now than it was when Davis, a Democrat, got the boot. The budget deficit has grown so huge that a shutdown of government services looms. Partisan gridlock grips the Legislature, and lawmakers bicker as the state plunges into crisis. "The recall absolutely hasn't helped at all," said Gary Jacobson, a professor of political science at UC San Diego.
--Evan Halper and Michael Rothfeld