Timothy Egan's opinion piece on today's New York Times places the recent CA vote on the budget proposition in context, and ties it to the prison crisis. On the guards, some of whom make $100,000 annually, he says --
The prison guard union, having swelled its well-paid ranks after voter mandates helped to produce a system where 750,000 Californians are either locked up, on parole or on probation, was upset at Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for balking at their demands.
And on the disastrous impact of the proposition system on our priorities list, particularly with regard to incarceration and education:
But I do blame the voters. They’re part-time citizens, and not very good at it. They shackled the tax system back in 1978 with Proposition 13, limiting how much government could take from a homeowner. It was a reasonable middle class revolt. But then, in succeeding years, voters passed laws that packed California’s prisons with criminals (many of them petty) but also mandated that the education system get a lion’s share of the budget. On top of that, the voters made it nearly impossible to pass a budget. Then they walked away from their car wreck.
It's a good reminder that we have ourselves to thank, and to blame, for the situation.
Props to my fabulous colleague Dorit Rubinstein-Reiss for alerting me to this.