With the propositions defeated, what conclusions can be drawn about what the people want? Pundits and politicians are cherry picking the election results, looking for details they think support their own parochial views. The real question is, why did the Governor and legislature use the referendum process to solve the budget impasse?
Putting complex budget questions to a popular vote acknowledged the dysfunction of the legislative process. With a requirement that 2/3 of the legislature approve the budget, the minority party can obstruct reasonable compromises and bring the process of running the state to a screeching halt.
In truth, what Californians have just witnessed is nothing unique. The dysfunctional process happens every year. The economic downturn has exacerbated the scale of the problems but the system has failed to function as it fails to function every year.
The party of weakness uses the 2/3s provision to give themselves a bully pulpit with which to punish the state.
In theory, a Republican governor could have helped the process. His minority party could have felt empowered which could have led to their actually being engaged in the budgeting process. In theory, a popular personality like Schwarzenegger could have used his movie star charisma to bring people together. In theory...well, theories didn't amount to much in this case.
California deserves better.
California is a great state, with incredible resources. We need elected officials who are willing to stay out of the pundit glare and do the honestly difficult work of governance. We need a system that doesn't empower an embittered minority to prevent intelligent consideration of complex issues.
California needs to end the 2/3s requirement as soon as possible.
And the Governor...he needs to stop giving interviews, stop traveling out of state, and stop acting like a politician and actually do the honest work of governing by bringing together desperate factions and creating sensible solutions.