In his January 2011 inaugural address, California Gov. Jerry Brown declared it a "time to honestly assess our financial condition and make the tough choices." Plainly the choices weren't tough enough: Mr. Brown has just announced that he faces a state budget deficit of $16 billion--nearly twice the $9.2 billion he predicted in January. In Sacramento Monday, he coupled a new round of spending cuts with a call for some hefty new tax hikes.
Now more than ever, the states truly are playing out their roles as the "laboratories of democracy." In New Jersey, the experimentation is promising. In California, however, it's beginning to look like the island of Dr. Moreau.
In his own inaugural address back in January 2010, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also spoke of making tough choices for the people of his state. For his first full budget, Mr. Christie faced a deficit of $10.7 billion--one-third of projected revenues. Not only did Mr. Christie close that deficit without raising taxes, he is now plumping for a 10% across-the-board tax cut.