Good article by Peter Schrag in the September Harper's Magazine (which I can't paste quotes from). Typing from the article:
California's problems date back at least to the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, which cut local property taxes by nearly 60 percent, restricted all future tax increases, and badly confounded state and local authority. Proposition 13 was followed by a series of voter initiatives that capped or eliminated other taxes, limited spending, and imposed legislative term limits while at the same time approving popular spending measures and spending mandates without the revenues to pay for them. . . .
In the 1950s and 1960s, California was celebrated for its progressive political institutions, its public university system, its ambitious water projects, its freeways and parks, and, most important, its sense of optimism. But over the past three decades, the state has been transformed into a spectacle of undisciplined plebiscitary excess and democratic failure. . . .
At bottom lies the paradox implicit in the hyper-democracy of an initiative process beloved by the voters and the antidemocratic constitutional restrictions that they have voted in. The most stringent, which dates back to the Great Depression, requires a two-thirds majority in each house of the legislature to approve a budget or, indeed, any spending measure. Today's voters can't be blamed for this law, but they can be blamed for refusing to change it. Proposition 13 even added a provision requiring two-thirds majorities for tax increases (but not, it should be noted, for tax cuts). No other state requires legislative super-majorities for both budgets and tax increases. It is hyper-democracy set against non-democracy.
The super-majority requirements have allowed California's "starve-the-beast" Republicans, despite their being a minority in the legislature, to exercise de facto veto power over any spending plan. . . .