Vote No on Prop. 25: ‘On Time Budget Act’ won’t solve anything
Proposition 25, the “On Time Budget Act” may deliver timely budgets, but will it deliver sound fiscal management by our regulators?
It does not address reasons for being late, which include insufficient funds due to excessive spending, and the huge deficits that follow. Nor does it confront high taxes, and a regulatory apparatus that destroys business and leads to declining revenues. Proponents of the bill claim the “two-thirds majority” requirement to pass the budget, and the lack of incentive for legislators to do so causes this tardiness. Does this justify changing safeguards in the Constitution enacted in 1933 precisely to prevent this kind of mismanagement?
To woo voter support of the initiative, the text represents that the measure will not affect the two-thirds vote required to raise taxes and that it won’t change Proposition 13 in any way. In this context consider past actions, not promises.
An editorial in the San Diego Union-Tribune, aptly titled “Prop. 25: a Recipe for Fiscal Disaster,” describes how constitutional requirements for a timely budget, and two-thirds majority vote are circumvented. It states “the California Legislature’s lassitude in its handling of the state budget this year has been so extreme that it has spawned conspiracy theories.”
The editorial also asks “why would leaders of the Democratic majority that controls both the Assembly and Senate not schedule a first vote on their 2010-11 budget plans until Aug. 31, two months into the fiscal year?” It then questions “wouldn’t it have been far more logical and constructive to have an initial budget vote in May after the Governor presented his revised budget and well before the arrival of the new fiscal year?”
The Union, reported on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010, “California Lawmakers get their first look Wednesday at a proposal that attempts to end the state’s record-long budget impasse and close a $19 billion deficit.” Almost four months late!
The same San Diego piece above provides a forecast of a political party’s behavior with simple majority votes. I quote: “In 2001 on a simple majority vote Democratic lawmakers adopted a four-year, 96 percent increase in maximum unemployment benefits. But the bill to raise the taxes on employers to cover the much higher cost of the benefit failed because it did not meet the two-thirds threshold for the tax increases.”
They further report: “that California is on track to have a $15.3 billion shortfall in its unemployment fund as of the end of this calendar year.” More debt and a $600 million to $700 million interest payment due the U.S. Treasury on Sept. 30, 2011.
Expose articles like this are abundant in local papers statewide. An editorial in the Long Beach Press-Telegram (again, aptly titled “No. 1 in all the wrong ways”), states “California, which has the nation’s highest state sales tax, 8.25 percent, and is close to the top in total tax burden, also was first place last year with the biggest tax increases.”
It goes on to claim that of $28.6 billion combined tax increases by all states, California alone accounted for $12 billion. I thought Democrats, Independents, and Republicans alike voted down those ballot measures in May 2009 by a margin of two to one? When was there a two-thirds majority vote in 2009 to increase taxes?
To quote the publisher of The Union: “The people behind that proposition  (ask yourself why a government labor union would support this one) would have us convinced that California’s money problems are simply a matter of requiring a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to pass a budget.”
Obviously not so! With the two-thirds requirement in place, California became the sixth ranked economy in the world. We had low-priced energy, good schools and universities, an outstanding infrastructure, and jobs created by businesses who wanted to stay. This suggests that we have a people problem, not a constitutional problem.
People will always find ways to circumvent if that is their propensity. Those people happen to be a Democratic majority, and, like it or not, they own the fiscal and budgetary mess that the people of California endure.
We need to resoundingly reject this measure, just like the measures of May 2009. The Constitution is not the problem, the fact that we are not abiding by it is the cause of our malaise.
This is a bad measure! It just makes it easier for the same people to spend non-existent money with less accountability. For the good of all citizens, and the future of California say “No” once more! It does not provide real solutions for our budget debacle or help the people of our great state.
We need to return to the policies that made California the Golden State, and not continue down the path of economic destruction.
Bill Neuharth is the chair of the Nevada County Republican Committee.
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