"Three years ago California was called a failed state," Gov. Jerry Brown proclaimed in the fall. "They were virtually chortling in the conservative venues." No more. "The people themselves, through the initiative, actually broke a decade of dysfunction and laid the foundation for a government that works," Brown said. He credits the state's turnaround to a series of ballot measures. "The measures allowed a state budget to get passed with a simple majority of lawmakers, put an independent commission in charge of voting boundaries, and raised taxes by billions of dollars," The Times' Evan Halper explains. The Sacramento Bee's Dan Walters calls Brown's budget miracle "more or less legitimate." "It's mostly new revenue from sales and income tax hike approved by voters ... with a dash of economic recovery and a smidgen of creative bookkeeping such as slowing down some debt repayment.... But overall it's mostly the new taxes." The pragmatic Brown's outlook now from his catbird seat in Sacramento? "Everybody wants to see more spending," he said. "That's what this place is, a big spending machine.... Well, I am the backstop at the end, and I'm going to keep this budget balanced as long as I'm here."
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