Three Little Words

Majority-vote budget. 

If the huckstering of the President’s Day Weekend demonstrated anything at all, it’s that the majority party should be able to pass the budget it considers best for California. 

If its awful the governor, should he or she be of a different political party, can slice-and-dice it through the miracle of the veto process. 

Should the governor be of the same political party and warmly endorse the spending plan well he or she can be thrown out by voters. 

And, if the non-partisan commission created by Proposition 11 last November to draw new legislative boundaries does its job it will be possible to throw out members of the party that passed the budget as well. 

Not arguing the merits or demerits of the policy, should a $10,000 tax credit for new homeowners be placed in the budget because it will win the vote of one of three GOP senators? In this case, Roy Ashburn of Bakersfield. 

Again, irrespective of the merits of ransom list’s contents, should one GOP senator, in this case Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria, be able to halt approval of a $140 billion spending plan designed to avert a rapidly approaching fiscal meltdown of state government. 

Yeah an open primary would be positive – probably a more significant shake-up of the system than a redistricting commission – but what does it have to do with the budget other than acquiescing to Maldonado’s demand gives Democrats the one vote they need to reach the two-thirds majority threshold required for passage. 

Passage of that measure is a tall order. As one reader opines: 

“The hub-bub about an open primary presents some interesting questions.  First, Abel will demand that the measure be passed first in the Assembly before casting his deciding vote. 

“Second, if I’m a left-leaning, pro-labor freshman in the Assembly, I may not want to run in an open primary next June for re-election.  Or, for that matter, a way-right Republican.”

Is this an act of selfless heroism, born of a vibrant love for California and its citizenry. Not so much.   

An open primary benefits moderates, like Maldonado. But combine calling for an open primary with Maldonado’s other demands – forbid legislative pay raises in times of budget crisis, don’t pay lawmakers if a budget is late and remove the “pork” given to other legislators to win their votes –  and it sounds like a pretty palatable platform for a 2010 run for statewide office. 

Maldonado is forced from the Senate by term limits in 2012 so a 2010 statewide campaign doesn’t require him to sacrifice his current seat. 

Maldonado was defeated in the GOP primary for State Controller in 2006 – another free run — by Tony Strickland, now a state senator. 

There is something kinda wrong when public policy boils down to bribes — whether high-minded public policy or pork – to convince a handful lawmakers to do their job: create a state budget and work together to solve Californian’s problems.

GOP Assembly members Tom and Bill Berryhill of Modesto and Stockton respectively and Nathan Fletcher of San Diego stepped up without any apparent ransom demands. Here’s to them.  

Just to sweeten the majority-vote budget pot a little, there’s a fairly hefty number of folks who work both in and around the Capitol who assert that whichever team wins the power to run roughshod over the minority party will be so scared of exclusive blame for any badness in the budget being exclusively their fault that they won’t do anything real drastic. 

Probably don’t want it on the May special election this year with all the five budget-related measures. June 2010 would offer plenty of time to gather the requisite signatures to place it on the ballot. 

Suggested campaign slogan: “Can’t suck more than the status quo.”



Filed under: Venting


  1. If this were Illinois, we would be empaneling a special prosecutor to examine bribery charges. I like the slogan, nothing can suck as bad as the status quo. Perhaps Captain Sullenberger’s presence in the bldg. at noon gave a spine to a few of our elected officials and I don’t just mean republicans. Aren’t they talking to people in their districts? I sure get an earful every where I go. Losing Confidence in elected officials is the understatement of the century

    Comment by barbara o'connor — 2.17.2009 @ 5:13 pm

  2. Don’t forget the extortion of unions “agreeing” not to squash the ballot measures to ultimately seal the budget deal if they receive kinder consideration of their demands. Guidos in the old ‘hood, shaking the Dems down. Shameful and as comparable as Maldo’s campaign wish list.

    Comment by Robyn Boyer — 2.17.2009 @ 9:58 pm

  3. Recipe for Perfect Storm:

    2 cups — Term Limits Gone Wild
    1 cup — Badly written legislative districts
    2 tablespoons — Lousy economy
    Lock oven until done

    Recipe serves 36 million taxpayers

    Comment by Les Hartwick — 2.17.2009 @ 10:38 pm

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