Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
posted by Josh Goodman
The Mercury News looks at Gov. Schwarzenegger's role in the (finally resolved) California budget mess:
While it's far from clear that another governor could have resolved this summer's budget morass more quickly, given the enormity of the problem, Schwarzenegger's weak ties to legislators made his task that much harder.
Legislators say the governor could have freed the budget from the state Senate weeks ago if he had persuaded a mere two Republican senators to side with him. But he could not.
When it came to the budget this year, the governor found himself in a political no-man's land. A slumping economy took a bite out of his approval ratings, making it difficult to rally a fed-up public against the Capitol as he did in his first populist bid for office.
But the governor also proved ineffective as a political operator working the levers of power. Not a single Republican or Democratic legislator publicly backed any of the three budgets Schwarzenegger put forward this year.
In fairness to Schwarzenegger, there are plenty of other prime suspects here. Citizen initiatives have cramped the budget. Term limits have sapped the legislature of institutional memory. Gerrymandered legislative districts have led to fewer moderate lawmakers. All of that -- and especially the requirement that the California budget receive a two-thirds vote in the legislature -- made a budget stalemate more likely.
Still, Schwarzenegger heralded his tenure as one of post-partisan cooperation. What's actually happened is that the governor appears equally incapable of working with Democrats and Republicans.
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