The voters rejected such overtures and probably Assembly Majority Leader Albert Torrico hit the nail on the head when he said last night:
I am certain in the coming days we will analyze the exit polls that will provide us with less information than usual since a possible record low turnout was expected. The official totals are not available just yet, but it was reported the turnout for instance in Sacramento County was around 17 percent.
What I suspect the polling will show though is a number of different reasons for the results. The left largely rejected these measures because they bit into vital programs and did not solve the overall deficit. Prop 1A was a convoluted layering of four separate initiatives that had something for everyone to vote against–and they did. The right voted against what they perceived as tax increases in Prop 1A and I’m not sure the objections to the rest, but it seemed to be portrayed as a tax increase from the start which doomed it from the right’s perspective.
As I said on Friday though, if the numbers were such that the $6 billion in budget savings would have substantially closed the budget, then I would have held my nose and voted for them. Reducing the deficit from $21 billion to $15 billion at best was just not worth it.
The Governor is likely to use this as a misguided and probably wrongheaded mandate to slash the budget.
The governor has threatened to make up for the lost revenues by cutting an additional $2.3 billion from elementary and high schools and community colleges; borrowing $2 billion from cities and counties; transferring some state prison inmates to county jails and some illegal immigrant prisoners to federal custody, and slicing deeper into health, social services and other programs.
More importantly as the Capitol Weekly opines, this may mark the end of another Schwarzenegger era.
“It may mark the end of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as a compromising moderate willing to talk tough, but ultimately postpone the state’s hardest budget decisions… It remains to be seen what type of political phoenix emerges from the ashes of the governor’s latest initiative defeat. Schwarzenegger has been known to reinvent himself after ballot box losses before.”
Schwarzenegger strategist Adam Mendelsohn:
“In some instances, a loss is as much a mandate as a win, It’s clear that he carries a mandate to cut the California budget down to the bone.”
However, Governor Arnold would be wrong to take that from these results. First, the progressive left joined the right to vote against this. Second, the election really wouldn’t have changed much had it passed and it does not really change the reality having failed. $15.4 versus $21.3 billion just isn’t that much of a difference.
The Sky Is Falling
The election was insufficient to prevent the sky from falling anyway, but the sky is falling today over California. We have survived longer than perhaps we should have with some tricks, borrowing, shuffling of monies, etc. That all stops now.
As Dean Florez, Senate Majority Leader told me now a month ago, this is an all-cuts budget. The Governor you know believes that, he said as much last week.
We have already cut $9.3 billion from education. The Governor is immediately threatening two more billion. And to close the rest of the deficit you can safely assume another three to five billion. The sky is falling on education in California. People want to argue that we were not doing a good job of educating our youth in this staff at the place we were at when we were somewhere like 25th in per pupil spending–do you honestly believe we will be better when we cut $15 billion??? If you do, you need a lesson in reality.
We are going to cut money from health coverage for the poor.
We are going to cut money that goes to things like First Five and other early childhood interventions.
We are going to cut money that goes to programs for at-risk youths.
We are going to cut jobs across the state.
Students are going to pay more to go to colleges and as a result some won’t be able to go. In addition we are accepting fewer students.
Teachers will be laid off.
Prisoners will be released early.
The sky is falling. The only question now is how bad it will get. Whether it will plunge the state of California into depression. And whether the state of California will take the rest of the country down with it.
The Governor has already threatened to take $2 billion that is supposed to go to local governments in terms of property tax revenue provided through 2004’s Prop 1A. That means that you are going to see a higher deficit locally and more cuts there.
Yesterday the Yolo County Board of Supervisors voted by a 3-2 vote with Provenza and Chamberlain dissenting to stop county medical coverage for illegal immigrants. The total savings from the medical cuts is somewhere around $1.5 million but that goes beyond the bit that goes to help illegal immigrants. That means increased pressure on the emergency rooms and we will likely see higher costs down the line. In addition this sets us up for a major health outbreak should something more serious than the Swine Flu emerge, whole segments of the population may transmit disease without knowing.
Frankly this is the tip of the iceberg. It is going to get ugly.
I urge people to get involved, now is when the public is needed the most. It starts at the local level. Tonight we are having a townhall meeting. I urge people to attend. It is from 7 to 9 pm at the Veteran’s Memorial Center on 14th Street in Davis. We will discuss Davis’ budget problems. These are budget cuts that will affect people in a very personal way.
Unfortunately the picture regardless of last night’s outcome was bleak and it will likely get worse in the coming weeks and months. Now is the time for people to engage.
—David M. Greenwald reporting