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FRIDAY, JANUARY 7, 2005
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EDITORIAL

One Golden State fad needs to sweep east

California's reputation as the nation's trendsetter may get a stern test this year.

Like the federal government, California faces a staggering budget deficit that would bankrupt some nations.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called legislators into special session this week with the mandate that they cut spending.

"Ignore the lobbyists. Ignore the politics. Trust the people," he pleaded.

One of the keys to reform is repeal of Proposition 98, a 1988 initiative that earmarks 40 percent of the state's revenues to schools.

That might not seem like a drastic measure in some states, but California already ranks 44th, or one state behind Alabama, in school expenditures.

Taking a bite out of school funds requires a vote of Californians. With such a state debt and the threat of it going even higher, they might, as we say in Alabama, unearmark the funds and use some elsewhere.

The importance of what almost appears to be a demand is that the governor wants to end deficit spending, not harm education. It's a mindset that needs to take hold somewhere in the nation as the national budget heads toward $8 trillion, according to the National Debt Clock.

It has gone up an average of $2.36 billion per day since Sept. 30 of last year.

The Bush administration lacks the will to balance the budget because doing so will require new taxes. Gov. Schwar-zenegger is a long way from accomplishing his goal, but give him credit for starting the process with a cantankerous Legislature.

If he succeeds in leading his people to fiscal responsibility, someone in Washington will think it's a good idea for the nation.

That's typically California's effect on the nation.

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