LOS ANGELES COUNTY – California Proposition 25 is a constitutional amendment that changes the way Sacramento does business. Rather than demanding a two-thirds majority to pass a budget, a simple majority vote will do. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty!
Jerry Brown Endorses California Proposition 25
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that gubernatorial candidate Democrat Jerry Brown finally went on record endorsing Proposition 25. The redheaded stepchild of this election season, it has been one of the ‘further ran’ props that are on November’s ballot. At face value, this proposition sounds like a good idea: do away with the two-thirds majority required to pass a state budget and instead rely on a simple majority. End the gridlock and the government-issued IOUs.
Meg Whitman disagrees and suggests that while ending the gridlock is most certainly a laudable plan, it is much more likely that the party in power (translate this to read “Democrats”) will dictate the budget they want. It pains me to acknowledge it, but Meg’s got a point here.
What ‘They’ Won’t Tell You about Proposition 25
Proposition 25 is a mixed bag. It maintains the Prop 13 stipulated two thirds majority for tax increases and offers a whip to get legislators in line: legislator compensation is cut by $50,000 a day for each day that the budget is late.
Unfortunately, this is not entirely true. First and foremost, the legislator pay cut only goes into effect if the legislature fails to send “a budget to the Governor on time.” Thus, it could be a completely outrageous budget that not even a hard-lined leftist would sign and yet the legislators would go on to receive their pay – without having passed a real budget.
More insidious in nature is the erosion of Prop 13; while Prop 25 claims to protect taxpayers from tax hikes, it actually allows for these hikes.
The proposition reads in part:
“Notwithstanding any other provision of law … the budget bill and any other bills providing for appropriations related to the budget bill may be passed in each house … a majority of the membership concurring, to take effect immediately upon being signed by the Governor or upon a date specified in the legislation.”
It’s a Tax, It’s a Fee, No … It’s an Appropriation!
As a Californian I know that the legislature will get around Prop 13 quickly and easily by calling the tax hikes ‘fees.’ Thus, they get to fund their budget proposal and offer lip service to taxpayer- and homeowner-friendly Prop 13. Take for example the car tax. Governor Schwarzenegger repealed the tripled fee on his first day in office; by May, 2009 it was doubled.
Long Beach residents know all about new fees that are coming down the pipe. Just recently the L.A. County city enacted a cat license requirement. While it is free to register a companion feline right now, the Long Beach City Council will vote on setting an appropriate fee in January of 2011. Los Angeles residents woke up on April 1, 2009 to a newly hiked sales tax of 9.250 percent.
As a Los Angeles County voter I cannot help but wonder what else will soon require licensing. What other fees will increase? How much higher will sales taxes go? With a couple of cars in the driveway, a house cat and the need to do business in L.A., my expenditures go up. Prop 25 would add a legislative carte blanche provision to the California constitution I just don’t think I can afford.