Mirror, Mirror On the Wall, Are We the Most Dysfunctional of All?

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Here’s a quiz.

Name the state that has a legislature and governor contemplating making draconian cuts to education programs and eliminating some health and human services programs.

Name the state that is planning to pull back money from county and municipal governments and sell state assets (including three prisons) to deal with a record budget deficit.

Name the state where a moderate Republican governor is stuck on the idea of securitizing state lottery revenues to paper over the deficit.

Where the governor is fighting with legislative Republicans are fighting over the governor’s plan to raise taxes, including a one-cent sales tax. Where Republicans are calling that a betrayal of conservative values.

Where Democrats are mad at the governor for using the crisis to try to promote a spending limit.

Where the governor is getting nowhere with any of these proposals, and is sinking fast in popularity.

Where key parts of any budget deal will have to go to voters, and approval is unlikely.

Where attempts to cut the budget are hamstrung by a series of voter approved initiatives, including a powerful proposition that prevents the legislature from repurposing moneys dedicated to health and education.

Where Democrats are complaining that the two-thirds super-majority vote for taxes, enacted by the voters at the ballot, is allowing minority Republicans to, in the words of one blogger, “hold the state legislature hostage to the anti-tax zealotry of their ‘no new taxes’ pledge to K-Street lobbyist Grover Norquist.”

Surely, this is California you’re talking about. Which is why it makes perfect sense for businesses and taxpayers to get the heck out of the state, and move someplace that’s got its act together. Like, say, Arizona.

Except, of course, the state I’ve just described is Arizona.

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