December 12, 2010


The tragedy of Arnold Schwarzenegger's governorship: The state's dysfunction isn't all his fault, but it got worse during his time in office because of his failure to come to grips with the real issues of state government. (Michael Hiltzik, December 10, 2010, LA Times)

The day he took office, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger commanded popularity enough to persuade California's voters to swallow the harshest fiscal medicine.

The tragedy of his governorship is that he never used it.

The roots of the state's dysfunction were well known in Sacramento in 2003, when Schwarzenegger took office, and still are today: It's too easy to enact spending programs by ballot initiative, too hard to get the required two-thirds vote of the Legislature to pass a budget and impossible to keep talented legislators around when they're rapidly turfed out by term limits.

The tax structure bequeathed us by 1978's Proposition 13 is lunacy; it places too much emphasis on the personal income tax, which frustrates the wealthy and the entrepreneurial class, and on the sales tax, which hammers the working class.
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The school financing system (also an offspring of Proposition 13) is even more nuts. It hamstrings local administrators by making them beholden to nostrums issued from Sacramento.

Everybody feels shortchanged in this state — rich and poor, employer and employee, student and teacher — and not without reason. This is the crisis Schwarzenegger was elected to solve, and he never laid a finger on it.

Why? Because these fundamental issues were not on Schwarzenegger's radar screen.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at December 12, 2010 8:38 AM
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