When California voters approved Proposition 30, they opted to raise their own taxes at a time of high joblessness -- a highly unusual move in a state where voters nearly always reject tax hikes even in good times. But conditions in California today are far from usual.
After the Legislature made $23 billion in cuts to state programs, it put the lie to the oft-repeated notion that we can solve our budget problems through spending cuts alone. The reductions left safety net programs in tatters, rendered higher education an impossible dream for the very poor, jammed children into overcrowded classrooms and heightened poverty for seniors and the disabled, among other things. With temporary hikes in sales and income taxes, Proposition 30 will close a $6-billion budget hole and avoid even worse cuts to schools and social programs.
As an aside to conservatives who still think California is overly generous with its tax dollars: Even with Proposition 30 in place, the state budget accounts for less money per resident today than it did in 1990.
Above: Gov. Jerry Brown thanks Proposition 30 supporters in Sacramento on Nov. 6.