Election 2010, My Endorsements

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

With the November 2 election day just three weeks away, it is time to pull out my sample ballot and make some decisions. It is also time to celebrate political freedoms that allow every citizen to speak out and let their opinions be heard. Today I’ve been looking at California’s Prop 25.

Officially described as, “Changes Legislative Vote Requirement to Pass a Budget from Two-Thirds to a Simple Majority. Retains Two-Thirds Vote Requirement for Taxes. Initiative Constitutional Amendment,” Proposition 25 is an attempt to change a system that habitually fails to deliver a state budget when it is due (June 15). It has only been on time once in 24 years. In 2008, California went without a budget until September 16. In 2009 it was later. Today, 93 days into the 2010 budget year, the governor and legislative leaders have a plan they have mutually slapped backs over, but it won’t have legislative approval for at least two more days. In the meantime we maintain skeleton services by rotating one-size-fits-all unpaid days off for state workers. Clearly the system is broken.

Even so, until today, I was hesitant to support Prop 25. What changed today was a California Supreme Court unanimous decision that our governor does, indeed, have a line item veto. Hypothetically, the duties of a governor should be, in this order: 1) administer legislation passed by the legislature, including the spending of money allocated in the budget, 2) supply information and direction to the legislature on necessary course-changes, and 3) veto legislative nonsense. California’s recent history, however, has necessitated a reverse in that order. First, the nonsense has been preponderant, spending us into a hole from which we cannot climb out. Second, when there is no money, its administration is impossible. For all practical purposes, however, it has been left up to the legislature’s minority party to supply the necessary veto. Today’s ruling returns the veto to its proper place with the governor.

Prop 25 also penalizes all members of the legislature by eliminating their pay during any period the state is without a budget. This is good, but I hope later changes will go even further. Producing a budget is the number one job of the legislature, yet even during these 93 days without a budget, the legislature has divided its attention along a wide variety of rabbit trails. First, I would like to suggest that one week before the deadline, if preliminary versions have not passed each house separately, all work on other legislation be suspended, unless the governor declares an emergency. Then, once the state enters the budget year without a budget, no non-budgetary vote by either house would be valid, unless declared emergency by the governor. Second, I would suggest that if the budget becomes one month overdue, no member of the current legislature would be eligible for re-election. I would even balance this last suggestion with a partial relaxation of term limits. No one can argue that California has better government today than we had before term limits. We have only asked lots of freshmen legislators to try and outfox lots of veteran lobbyists. Third, we should pass Prop 20 so that no party in legislative power can so gerrymander the districts that a minority party has unfair difficulty maintaining a reasonable presence in the capital.

Today I received a scare-mail saying Prop 25 would end Prop 13 and raise the taxes on my house to 1.14% of Fair Market Value. However, I find the following in the text of the bill (section 3: Purpose and intent, paragraph 2) "This measure will not change Proposition 13's property tax limitations in any way. This measure will not change the two thirds vote requirement for the legislature to raise taxes." If I am reading that wrong, or somehow missing some insidious fine print, I will reconsider. But otherwise, I am going to vote for both Prop 25 and Prop 20.

Posted by Brian at 10:49 PM  


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