Barack Obama was not my candidate for president. But, the voters of the United States have spoken and now he will be the president of all the people. The difficulty and reality of governing such a diverse and complex nation will take unique skills and a broad vision. A mix of tradition and progress must be in balance. Here’s wishing that our new president can meet the challenge, and in a traditional sendoff on this difficult journey, I wish you Godspeed, Mr. President-elect.
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California voters voted Yes on many state and local bond and tax measures. Perhaps, California is no longer as fiscally conservative as pundits have made it out to be. Of course, many of those bonds will not be issued for quite some time because the state treasury does not have the money to pay for them. The budget still has a hole of billions of dollars and cannot afford to fund all the services under the current budget, never mind any new programs created by the voters in this election.
For example, while the promoters of the high-speed rail argued that the measure will create jobs, it is doubtful right now that the state will sell the Prop 1A bonds to start building the rail and create those jobs and at the same time fire teachers or drive more health providers away from the MediCal system because the money was needed to fund the rail bond and was not available for schools and health care.
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Democrats picked up seats in the Assembly and the Senate but appear short of the two-thirds vote to pass a budget or raise taxes. Still, with the voters passing bonds and taxes in a number of localities and a more muscular Democratic Party make-up in the Legislature, a tax increase to deal with the state budget mess will gain momentum. While the state really can’t wait to fix the budget problem, perhaps the election result will convince the governor to rescind his call for a special session in November and wait until the new legislature is sworn-in in December.
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One of the fascinating stories in the coming months is which direction will the California Republican Party go to try and regroup? The party of Ronald Reagan captured only about 37% of the presidential vote in his home state, California Democrats continued to add to their majorities in the Legislature, tax and spend issues had little opposition and many passed, and even the socially conservative issues lost ground. While Proposition 8 may pass, the vote was 10% lower than a vote on the same issue just eight years ago. California Republicans voters were never strongly united on social issues as compared to Republican voters in other states, and the result of this election shows that these will not be the issues that Republicans rally around. So where will the Republican soul-searching take them? Interesting times ahead.