Debra J. Saunders

 In August, the California Teachers Association dropped plans to place a measure on the June 2006 ballot that would have raised business property taxes. This robbed Team Arnold of the opportunity to explain that their opponents want a big, broad tax increase.

 Salazar sees the November sweep as an anti-Arnold sweep, and I think he is right. Bob Stern of the nonpartisan Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles believes voters should have looked at the merits of each measure and then voted up or down, but, "On the other hand, if you don't like Schwarzenegger, if you want to bring him down a peg, then it made perfect sense to vote 'no.'"

 Sure. It made perfect sense -- if you take away the context. In 2002, voters re-elected Gray Davis. In 2003, they recalled Davis and elected Schwarzenegger because he promised to change Sacramento and revoke the vehicle-license fee reinstated by the Davis administration. Two years later, California voters rejected Schwarzenegger because he tried to curb state spending.

 It is worth noting that Schwarzenegger began sinking in the polls, in part, because he started doing what it takes to balance the state budget without raising taxes. (Yeah, I know, the slide also followed Schwarzenegger's big-mouth retort to nurses that he had kicked their butts, and that allowed them to kick his butt.)

 Now, all Sacramento knows that next year's budget will include a $4 billion shortfall. But don't expect both parties to come together to fix it. As Stern noted: "My concern is that the Democrats will not want to give him anything for next year because they want a Democratic governor in 2007. If he looks like a leader, he may be re-elected."

 Hmmmm. Voters have great things to look forward to next year: Polls show they hate the Legislature more than the governor, but now they've weakened the governor. The state still has a structural budget deficit, and the voters have defeated measures that could have fixed the budget without raising taxes. That's really sticking it to Schwarzenegger.

Debra J. Saunders

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