By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
California voters Tuesday put the truth to the lie that the tax rebellion has come to an end. Almost two-thirds of the electorate (65.4 percent) cast ballots against Proposition 1A, a measure which would have increased taxes in the cash-strapped "Golden State" by $16 billion.
Voters in the state that, in 1978, gave birth to the modern tax revolt proved once again that the political pundits who the Republicans need to give up their anti-tax stance in favor of a platform that acknowledges the need for expanded government services that appeal to constituencies like those that shop at "big box" commercial outlets are wrong.
The problem for California, indeed for many of the states whose budgets are currently in crisis, is their inability to maintain the spending brought about by years of increases over and above the rise in the rate of inflation and the growth in state population.
"California does not have a $21.3 billion deficit," said anti-tax activist Grover G. Norquist, "it has a $21.3 billion overspending problem. The voters of California have sent an unequivocal message to the politicians in Sacramento—the budget process is broken and taxpayers have been squeezed dry." A notion further underscored by the fact that the only ballot measure to carry the day—which Prop 1-A was losing in every region of the state—was a measure to deny pay increases to state lawmakers when the state is running a budget deficit.
Critics point to the light voter turnout statewide as a reason to ignore the results, but that flies in the face of common sense. Time and again we are presented with major media polls that purport to show voters are willing to pay more for government services, that they are willing to see more money directed at key issues like education. But the measure to increase taxes was accompanied by Proposition 1-B, which would have given schools $9.3 billion to compensate for past budget cuts—but only if the voters approved Prop 1-A. And they approved neither, despite a well-funded campaign in support of their passage. If tax hikes were popular or even seen as necessary, as relates to spending, voter turnout would have been high in support of these initiatives.
"The fiscal mess that California has become provides a preview of what will happen nationwide if the tax and spend policies of Obama, Reid and Pelosi are carried out," Norquist said. "In yesterday's special election voters sent a loud and clear message to politicians in Sacramento that business as usual can't continue." And, he might have added, to the politicians in Washington as well.
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