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Parallels between California and Minnesota

by The Big E on May 28, 2009

California leads the nation in many ways.  Their environmental and safety legislation usually presages national legislation.  But does their impending implosion have any parallels with Minnesota’s impending Republican-inflicted pain?

Both states are considered liberal states and have large Democratic majorities in the legislatures.  Both states have a history of pragmatic centrism that put the state’s needs first.  Both states have had conservative movements gain control.  Both states face crises as a result of the selfishness and shortsightedness inherent in conservatism.

The responsible thing to do would be to raise taxes on the wealthiest so they pay the same percentage the rest of us pay.  

Because of California’s ballot initiative insanity (in this case specifically, Prop 13), it takes 66% of the state legislators to vote in a tax increase.  In Minnesota, our Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty has presidential ambitions and will never allow taxes to be raised. In Minnesota, it requires veto-proof majorities (66%) to pass a tax increase.  The practical effect is neither state’s legislature can pass tax increases.  Consequently, both states face making massive cuts to healthcare and probably many other nasty, cruel cuts.

Republicans in California refuse to negotiate.  One Republican in Minnesota refuses to negotiate (Yea, yea … I know, there are a few Republicans in the legislature … but do they really matter?)

California is about to fall apart.  Will Minnesota?  Let’s consider a few knowledgeable opinions.
Let’s consider what our fellow member of the 50-state blog network, Calitics, has to say about this:

Today California is witnessing an interesting convergence of events. As the state legislature begins to debate whether to destroy prisons, education, or health care, the eyes of most Californians will be trained on downtown San Francisco, where the California Supreme Court is going to issue its ruling on Proposition 8.

Both events signal the failure of California’s system of government. The system that creaked along for the last 30 years has now failed at the core tasks of an American government – to protect the rights of the governed, and to promote prosperity.

The victory of Prop 8, the dire economic crisis, and the looming collapse of our public services are all the product of a singular failure: the inability to respond effectively to the rise of a political movement bent on destroying the fabric of postwar California. I am referring, of course, to movement conservatism. California’s politics, dominated by a centrism determined to uphold the status quo, felt it had tamed the right-wing beast. It was wrong, and we are suffering the outcome of that massive miscalculation.
(Calitics)

Paul Krugman wrote an opinion piece on Sunday about California’s plight:

California, it has long been claimed, is where the future happens first. But is that still true? If it is, God help America.

The recession has hit the Golden State hard. The housing bubble was bigger there than almost anywhere else, and the bust has been bigger too. California’s unemployment rate, at 11 percent, is the fifth-highest in the nation. And the state’s revenues have suffered accordingly.

What’s really alarming about California, however, is the political system’s inability to rise to the occasion.

Despite the economic slump, despite irresponsible policies that have doubled the state’s debt burden since Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor, California has immense human and financial resources. It should not be in fiscal crisis; it should not be on the verge of cutting essential public services and denying health coverage to almost a million children. But it is – and you have to wonder if California’s political paralysis foreshadows the future of the nation as a whole.
(NY Times)

Does MN face collapse in the same way CA does?

Short answer.  No.

Long answer …

We do not have the insanity of mob rule via ballot initiative that California does.  And we should be glad of that.  It is a major difference.

We only have to replace a governor while California needs to completely redo it’s political system.

As the Republican party sheds all moderates, as it becomes the party of borrow-n-spend, creationism, bigotry and homophobia, as it becomes clear they refuse to budge on their no-new-taxes pledge under any circumstance, they continue to lose relevance.

Minnesotans passed a ballot measure to raise our taxes for our environment and arts.  Then there’s this poll.

Minnesotans have little taste for higher taxes that would hit most people’s pocketbooks, but two-thirds would offer up the wallets of richer folks to help solve the state’s budget woes, a Star Tribune Minnesota Poll has found.
(Star Tribune)

Polls like this indicate that there is hope for Minnesota after all.  

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