Tuesday’s dead-end debate over a state budget is exhibit A in the argument for Proposition 25 on the Nov. 2 ballot.
Tuesday’s failed vote — falling on day 80 of the budget stalemate — was something between a Kabuki dance and a charade.
Still, it illustrated a fundamental and chronic problem in California — the near-impossibility of getting a sensible budget approved given the entrenched partisanship at the Capitol and the requirement for a two-thirds majority to approve a spending plan.
Proposition 25 would correct this problem by lowering the threshold for passing a budget to a simple majority vote, equivalent to the systems in place in New York, Illinois, Texas and 44 other states.
California, which boasts the worst credit score of any state, is one of only three states that require a two-thirds vote. In fact it is the only one that requires a two-thirds vote to approve a budget and to raise taxes.
For those who fear this measure would cut the restraints on big spenders in Sacramento and lead to all kinds of mischief, rest assured. Proposition 25 specifically states that it only lowers the two-thirds requirement on the budget. The Legislature would still have to meet the super-majority threshold to approve tax increases.
Proposition 25 simply ensures that the budget process can no longer be hijacked by a small minority of politicians, some of whom only switch their votes after working deals that protect the interests of their district or themselves.
It’s undemocratic. It’s indefensible, and it’s the single biggest reason for the gridlock and dysfunction of Sacramento.
Furthermore, Proposition 25 would hold legislators accountable for not approving a budget on time. If they don’t send a budget to the governor by June 15, as required by the state Constitution, they don’t get paid. It’s as simple as that.
Voters need to ignore the doom-sayers opposing Proposition 25, many of whom have the most to gain from continued gridlock in Sacramento. There is nothing appealing about the status quo. Californians can’t keep sending new lawmakers to the Capitol in handcuffs. Legislators need to be able to do their jobs and then be held accountable if they don’t — as occurs in 47 other states.
As is, California has created a system that ensures stagnation not accountability or efficiency.
For only the second time in state history, California has entered September without a budget. The state is embroiled in brinkmanship and finger-pointing and is on the verge of issuing IOUs again.
California needs to give its leaders a chance to succeed or fail. Leaving them to do nothing is not working. The Press Democrat recommends a yes vote on Proposition 25.
Thu, September 2, 2010
by Santa Rosa Press Democrat