On the ballot here the Golden State today, several important initiatives. Props. 57 and 58 are the work of Governor Arnold. Prop. 58 would establish a state spending limit and require the state to set aside money each year for a “rainy day fund.” The sort of thing that nobody opposes in principle, this initiative is expected to pass. Prop. 57 would roll the debt the state accumulated under Schwarzenegger’s predecessor, Gray Davis, into a gigantic lump sum, floating a bond for $15 billion. Voters usually resist bond measures, and the polls are mixed on this one. But should the measure fail, the Governor will be forced either to raise taxes, cut spending more sharply than any state has ever done anywhere, at any time (as far as I know, anyway), or float a gigantic bond without the approval of the voters, a step of dubious constitutionality under the California constitution. Stay tuned.
And stay tuned for the vote on Prop. 56, a real stinker that shows the teachers’ union at their underhanded worst. This measure would increase funding for schools somewhat, and that, of course, is what all the ads out here are attempting to drum home. (Never mind that nobody can show any correlation between spending and students’ test scores, the correlation between spending and teachers’ salaries is nice and tight.) What the ads completely fail to mention is that the measure would also reduce the requirement for a tax hike from a two-thirds vote in the legislature to a majority of a mere 55 percent. And when I say the ads fail to mention this, I mean it literally: I haven’t seen a single ad that even alludes to this, the central aspect of the initiative. The unions have placed a big bet that the voters are idiots. When the polls close, we’ll learn whether they won.