California voters don't just say No; They say NO way!
Well, he may have had a grand day in D.C. schmoozing with the Democratic president and exchanging warm words of mutual praise about car exhausts, but Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger got a different kind of message tonight from California voters.
Not that many came out to vote in local races and on six statewide propositions, as we reported earlier Tuesday. But the ones who did were resoundingly defeating the governor's budget proposals, as opinion polls had predicted.
Which is probably why the Budgetnator was far away in Washington during the day, instead of being photographed voting locally and then sitting on a hotel room couch watching results roll in during a Sacramento photo op.
Of the day's six fiscal propositions -- the rainy day fund, education funding, lottery modernization, children's services funding and temporary reallocation of mental health funding -- all went down -- and hard. The results were roughly 60-40 against.
The only proposition to sail through was one preventing pay increases to top elected state officials during years of budget deficits. That one was being approved about 76-23. Take that! (That doesn't affect Arnold, of course, because he's never taken a state salary.)
So now comes all the public talking and cutting and the hard realities. Two hours after the polls closed, a Schwarzenegger statement said he accepted the results, while warning now of a deficit north of $21 billion.
"Tonight," the governor said, "we have heard from the voters and I respect the will of the people who are frustrated with the dysfunction in our budget system." He called on members of both parties to work together to "prevent a fiscal disaster." And scheduled a budget meeting with legislative leaders for Wednesday afternoon on his return from Washington.
Although the entire country shares the difficult economic times, all of this continuing political turmoil over a budget is, for now, confined to the once-rich, presently-populous Golden State. And numerous Americans are sure to gloat over the glamorous state's predicament.
However, if as often seems to happen in American political trends, California is again coming first in this resistance to more taxes, threats and budget deficit games, then next year's midterm national elections, historically bad news for the party controlling the White House anyway, might mean some hard slogging for congressional Democrats who're so quickly and overwhelmingly approving the current deficit spending.
-- Andrew Malcolm
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Photo: Peter Grigsby / Governor's Office