He’s right that as the America’s vanguard of the Pacific rim economy the recession shouldn’t be hurting us this bad, but the gutting of public infrastructure is taking its toll on the economy.

From today’s column:

The seeds of California’s current crisis were planted more than 30 years ago, when voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 13, a ballot measure that placed the state’s budget in a straitjacket. Property tax rates were capped, and homeowners were shielded from increases in their tax assessments even as the value of their homes rose.

The result was a tax system that is both inequitable and unstable. It’s inequitable because older homeowners often pay far less property tax than their younger neighbors. It’s unstable because limits on property taxation have forced California to rely more heavily than other states on income taxes, which fall steeply during recessions.

Even more important, however, Proposition 13 made it extremely hard to raise taxes, even in emergencies: no state tax rate may be increased without a two-thirds majority in both houses of the State Legislature. And this provision has interacted disastrously with state political trends.

I wish he’d expanded a bit before drawing parallels with national politics, but it’s a point that has to be made.  It’s not that we’re spending too much.  As the fourth largest economy in the world, we’re not spending enough to support it.  Sometimes the tough choices have to be made and the voters of the last generation have pretty much taken the choice away.