From the editors of the Wall Street Journal --
California voters sent a blunt but welcome message Tuesday about runaway government. By rejecting by nearly two-to-one the political establishment's $16 billion in higher taxes, spending gimmickry and more borrowing, the voters said it's time government faced the same spending limits that the recession is imposing on everyone else.
Teachers unions, business leaders and the politicians outspent initiative opponents by six-to-one, and they still lost. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had warned that if these initiatives were voted down, government services would have to be slashed, criminals released early and public employees furloughed. But voters decided that as painful as these cuts may be, the alternative of letting the state's tax-and-spend machine continue was worse. How right they are.
The response so far from Sacramento is typically short-sighted. Mr. Schwarzenegger, legislators and public-worker unions are now conspiring to roll out plan B: a federal bailout. The Governor was in Washington on Tuesday and, sounding like a Detroit auto executive, declared: "We need assistance." As a starter he wants a federal guarantee on California's next $6 billion bond offering.
But a federal bailout is an injustice to the residents of other states, especially those that run their governments responsibly. Why should taxpayers in Colorado, Virginia or Ohio pay for California's incompetence? Worse, one price of a bailout could be an Obama Administration demand that California remove its requirement for a two-thirds legislative majority to pass a tax increase. Another possible political target is repeal of the Proposition 13 property tax limitation. Yet these are the only remaining restraints on the appetites of the political class.
Tuesday's vote was a voter cry that the state needs more such restraints, and now is the time to push them...
Despite the panic from Sacramento, Tuesday's vote was the best fiscal news out of California in 30 years. It showed that the voters are paying attention to the games their elected leaders have been playing, and they have finally blown the whistle. We hope the sound was heard as far away as another out-of-control government, the one in Washington, D.C.