Prop Zero
The Starting Point for Commentary and Coverage of California Politics

California's Secret Spending Cap



    Getty Images
    SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 24: California Gov. Jerry Brown stands next to a chart that shows dollar amounts in the millions that were cut from the State's budget following a bill signing on March 24, 2011 in Sacramento, California. California Gov. Jerry Brown signed 13 bills into law that will cut $11.2 billion from California's budget deficit. $12.6 billion still needs to be cut to balance the budget. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

    I love it when Californians claim the state needs a spending cap.

    Because we already have one.

    And we're $17 billion under that cap.

    The Gann spending limit was approved by voters in 1979. It was loosened by voters -- most notably in 1990 -- to exclude school funding. Which is why some want a new spending cap. The old one isn't tight enough.

    In some recent polls, voters say they support a spending limit. But, as KQED's John Myers points out in this smart post on Gann and the state's obsession with spending limits, the same polls show voters oppose cuts to the biggest state programs. So what do voters really want?

    The answer to that question is: like the worst girlfriend or boyfriend you ever had, the people of California are angry at how things are going, but they don't know what they want done differently.