Memo to Democratic Legislative Leaders

To: Democratic Legislative Leadership

From: Students of California Political History

May 21, 2009

As you know, the May 19 special election was a political ass-whupping. 

Had such an ass-whupping occurred during Willie Brown’s tenure as speaker he would be readying or, possibly have already readied, the governor’s budget plan for a vote by the lower house.

While the outcome of bringing the governor’s plan to close a $21 billion gap between revenues and spending commitments would not be in dispute — it will fail passage — bringing it to a vote quickly after the election is anything but a “drill” as some of Brown’s successors dismiss such actions.

Bringing the GOP governor’s plan to a vote accomplishes several things.

It establishes how many initial votes exist for the plan. Not many, presumably. Will Republicans vote for it or are the cuts too deep even for them? Or should they choose to dismiss the action as a “drill” and not participate, an opportunity is presented for Democrats to score some coup on their political opponents.

A somewhat simplistic example: “All we hear from Republicans is that they want to cut state spending. Well, here’s a chance to do so and yet they sit on their hands.”

Bringing the proposal to a vote also attracts the media spotlight. Parents might be interested to know about the $6.3 billion in payments to public schools the governor would defer for one year, a figure that doesn’t include the $8 billion the state already owes schools.

What the plan does to immigrants, the developmentally disabled, the elderly who receive in-home care also might be of interest to the public which so recently decided to make the fiscal problem worse. 

The public might also like to know that $12 billion of the governor’s $21 billion worth of actions are one-time and that embracing them makes it harder to solve future budget messes.  

Bringing the budget to a vote creates the illusion of activity: The People have spoken, let’s get the J-O-B done.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, to use a favorite Brownism, a floor action such as this “runs them through the soft dirt,” a horse-racing expression describing how to tire thoroughbreds.

Tuckered out thoroughbreds– and lawmakers — can’t get into a lot of mischief.


Filed under: Venting

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment