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Lessons Learned. The Hard Way.

Mar
3
2004

So far, there are two things to learn from this recent election.
Californians love Gov. Terminator.
And while they may like their state Senator or Assemblyperson, they do not like the legislature. Not even a little bit.
Prop. 56 – the food fight bill – to lower the requirement for tax legislation went down to defeat soundly. Only San Francisco approved the thing.
But Props. 57 and 58, which Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed, campaigned for and dragooned a passel of Democrats into supporting, passed handily. Pollsters are going to be talking about the proposition’s come-from-behind finish for a long time. The message for now, however, is pretty clear: don’t tug on The Terminator’s cape.


The Bee’s Dan Weinberg points out that the state’s Democratic lawmakers and their long-time allies (in this case, labor) have long been out of touch with voters, suggesting initiatives that get trounced again and again. So perhaps there’s something to all Schwarzenegger’s talk about bi-partisan coalitions. We’ll see for sure when it comes times for Controller Steve Westly to run for re-election. Westly, who led the Democratic parade to Schwarzenegger’s side may pay a price within the party. It’s not hard to imagine him having a tough fight against an opponent backed by more liberal Democrats, like Treasurer Phil Angelides who has taken a big hit over the budget props and probably wouldn’t mind getting Westly knocked off as a potential gubernatorial candidate.
Democrats like to grouse that Schwarzenegger is too arrogant, and that he can’t rely on his popularity to get him over every jam. We’ll see. To really enact serious financial change in this state, Prop. 13, which freezes tax rates and provides corporate owners with low-cost land, has to be repealed or, at the very least, amended. The idea’s out there, thanks to Warren Buffett. It’d be nice to know if this topic came up while Buffett was helping Schwarzenegger sell his bonds in New York last week. Something — years of business reporting? — tells me it did.
Schwarzenegger has tested the financial waters with his budget prop. He’s taken a boring issue – bondzzzzzzz – and made it easy for people to understand. It won. The Democrats conducted their own test – Prop. 56 was clearly a way to see if residents would tolerate the possibility of tax rate changes (aka increase). But they got jammed up pretty easily.
In Gov. Terminator’s California, one way of doing things clearly works. One doesn’t.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 3:11 PM | Permalink

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