California shows the way – down

An Orange County Register editorial
December 3, 2009

Once the envy of the other 49 states, California has become the measure of failure. Historically a trend-setter, once again, as California goes, so may go the nation.

The Pew Center on the States recently completed an extensive study of the 50 state governments and found California in the worst straits, but also discovered nine other states have joined us in a condition of “fiscal peril.”

“The same pressures that drove the Golden State toward fiscal disaster are wreaking havoc in a number of states, with potentially damaging consequences for the entire country,” concluded the study, “Beyond California: States in Fiscal Peril.”

Those states – Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wisconsin – share many of California’s maladies. Some, the study found, suffer from economies that disproportionately rely on particular industries, such as housing in Florida or auto manufacturing in Michigan. California, Illinois and New Jersey repeatedly have used borrowing or accounting schemes to put off tough budget decisions. Like California, Arizona, Florida, Nevada and Oregon are restricted in raising taxes or cutting spending because of voter initiatives and constitutional restraints, Pew noted.

“The recession put almost all states in a bind,” the study observed, “but California, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Wisconsin have a history of persistent shortfalls.”

The editorial continues here.

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