During his current term, he enforced a fiscal discipline on his fellow Democrats to help bring a structural deficit into balance—the major tax increase on wealthy folks and the temporary sales tax increase also helped greatly. When he was first governor back in the late 60s and 70s, the state piled up a huge surplus and property taxes, as values soared, potentially were going through the roof.
After Proposition 13 passed with more than 60 percent of the vote, he embraced the cuts and changed his stance.
Last weekend, appearing on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, he said that you have to "be tough on spending. No matter how liberal you want to be?fiscal discipline is the fundamental predicate of a free society."
Too bad Congress can't get the message. While states have to more or less live within their means (California borrowed a gob of money during the recession and in its aftermath), Congress continues to spend and increase the already staggering national debt.
Returning to the governor, some of his actions meet match his words, but other actions belie them. Consider his embrace of climate change and the radical changes in California and its economy to meet the goals if reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Electrical rates are going to soar in a state that already has very high rates.
And then toss in his refusal to be rational about the absurd high-speed rail project. The Obama Administration already has given the state several breaks on deadlines to break ground that were specified in the 2009 stimulus bill. As long as a reasonable decision by a Superior Court judge in Sacramento holds, the state cannot expend bond funds because it does not have a rational business plan to demonstrate it can fund and operate a usable segment.
The first segment is nowhere to nowhere in the San Joaquin Valley—chosen simply because advocates thought it would be the easiest to get going. There has been significant local opposition and the public, which narrowly approved the bonds in 2008 based on a project that looks nothing like what now is proposed, now is firmly opposed and wants a do-over on the vote.
That hasn't stopped the governor and his Democrat allies from trying to push it ahead although clear thinkers like Senators Mark DeSaulnier and Joe Simitian (who both were very familiar with the project and its funding) from voting against allocating bonds. It passed the Legislature without votes to spare.
Two notes in response to reader comments: Dave Duffield—yes, after PeopleSoft was taken over by Oracle, he moved to Incline Village. He has since returned to Alamo when he founded Workday—not sure whether he kept the Incline Village home.
Thanks also to Greg's sharp eyes—it should have been downturn, not downtown as he correctly pointed out in the Workday post.