Californians gave the electoral finger to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday when they voted against five ballot measures intended to fix the Golden State’s budget drama by increasing taxes, redistributing state funds and borrowing money. On top of already double-digit unemployment, a plummeting housing market and an eroding educational system, the state now faces a budget gap of more than $21 billion.
Dire warnings of fiscal calamity by Schwarzenegger and echoed by top lawmakers failed to sway voters, who said they disliked the specifics in the measures—including a spending cap, extending tax increases, borrowing against lottery revenues and tapping dedicated funds.
“The public is under the delusion that they can have everything—potholes filled, new freeways, a good education system—but they aren’t willing to pay for it. ... A lot of critical services are going to be cut and there will be serious consequences,” said Jim Hawley of the Elfenworks Center for the Study of Fiduciary Capitalism at St. Mary’s College of California.
Schwarzenegger last week said 5,000 layoff notices would be sent to state employees, and spending cuts could fall hard on education. That stunned teachers whose school districts are already under financial pressure as their revenue shrinks.