[A] series of tax cuts, combined with the ailing economy of the Bush years and the bursting of the tech bubble led to massive structural deficits in California in recent years.
But unlike other states, where the majority party in the state legislature can actually govern the state, California was different: it took a two-thirds supermajority of both houses of the legislature to pass just a budget, much less raise taxes.
This allowed an ever-increasing extreme band of Republicans, who controlled more than a third of at least one house during this time, despite their deepening unpopularity, to hold the state hostage seemingly every year until they got even more cuts to the social safety net.
These Republicans would even use their hostage-taking power to extract corporate tax cuts for big businesses, further deepening our fiscal nightmare.
(Sound familiar, anyone? - z)
Eventually, the progressive California electorate got tired of this. Even as a tea party wave swept the nation in 2010, California's Democrats increased their legislative majorities and swept all statewide offices. We passed a ballot measure ending the supermajority requirement to pass a budget.
And in 2012, after over 30 years of anti-tax orthodoxy dating back to the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, Californians voted to tax themselves to stop the crushing damage done to our schools by decades of low-tax neglect. Even better, redistricting reform has allowed Democrats to win even more seats, finally claiming a supermajority in the legislature and rendering the Republican Party structurally irrelevant in every meaningful way.