George Will

WASHINGTON -- California, the sunny incubator of America's future, has relished its role as a leading indicator of political trends. Tuesday it became what it thinks it should be, the center of attention, but not in the way it wants to be.

Its voters, at last sensible, rejected, by an average of 65 percent, five of six propositions. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the "post-partisan" Republican, and the partisan Democrats who control the Legislature, promoted the propositions as efficient for and essential to eliminating the state's budget deficit, which will now be $21 billion. So California may become the next target for the Obama administration, whose dependency agenda involves seizing every opportunity to break things -- banks, insurance and automobile companies, etc. -- to the saddle of its supervision.

The Orange County Register -- if but one newspaper survives today's leveling winds, may it be this one -- made the case for rejecting all six propositions: 1A would have created an illusory spending cap that could be "easily circumvented by raising taxes" -- and the ballot language did not mention that 1A would have meant a $16 billion two-year extension of some of February's huge tax increases. Proposition 1B promised the public school lobby $9 billion, effectively bribing them to support 1A, which the California Teachers Association did. Proposition 1C combined "two of the worst practices responsible for" the state's dysfunction, "rosy revenue projections and borrowing": It would have authorized borrowing from (hypothetical) increases in state lottery revenues. Proposition 1D, "one more hide-the-pea fiscal deception," would have transferred to the general fund -- and much of it on to public employees -- revenues raised for children's programs. Proposition 1E would have done the same for revenues raised for mental health services.

Proposition 1F, passed by 73.9 percent, denies pay raises to legislators when the budget is not balanced. The Register opposed this because it gives legislators "a personal, financial incentive" to balance the budget by raising taxes.

George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
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