Vote ‘No’ on Prop. 56 |

Vote ‘No’ on Prop. 56

With majority control of the California Legislature, it’s easy to see how Democrats generally support Proposition 56. If passed, it would be easier to raise taxes and fees, which is always easier than making difficult spending cuts as most consumers must do today. The state Constitution currently requires a two-thirds majority in order to raise taxes and fees. Proposition 56 would require a mere 55 percent majority.

Proponents of Proposition 56 – mostly those who would personally benefit from higher taxes (government labor unions, for example) – are camouflaging this initiative under a heading of a “Budget Accountability Act,” suggesting that it will force lawmakers to pass a budget, “or else.”

But we wonder if those same supporters would be as anxious to back Proposition 56 if Republicans held the majority in the state Legislature and could then pass a budget filled with spending cuts with a simple 55 percent majority vote.

What goes around, they say, eventually comes around.

Most Californians would agree that their taxes and fees are already too high, and they have been hoping to see a little more “tough love” exhibited by a Legislature that seems so divided along partisan lines that it has become polarized. Gray Davis didn’t get the message and was run out of town. The message, as our own state Assemblyman Rick Keene, R-Chico, recently wrote, was clear: “No more business as usual.”

That’s not to say parts of Proposition 56 aren’t needed. After the governor introduces the budget, the Legislature and governor have six months to complete the budget on time, but that hasn’t happened since 1986. The governor and lawmakers face no consequences when they fail to meet the budget deadline imposed by the state Constitution. They continue to collect their salaries and expense allowances. They are not required to continue to work on the budget. In fact, they can even go on vacation.

If passed, Proposition 56 would prohibit lawmakers and the governor from collecting a paycheck for every day they miss the budget deadline. It would also force them to stay in session and consider the budget until it passed.

We think that’s a good idea.

The measure would also ensure that funds are set aside in a rainy day reserve during good economic times. Lawmakers failed to do that during the Dot-Com boom of the 1990s, turning a $12.8 billion state budget surplus into what some estimate to be the $30 billion deficit we see today.

While we encourage ways to force lawmakers to abide by Constitutional guidelines with respect to on-time budgeting, we think Proposition 56, as proposed, is simply a way to make it easier for lawmakers to dump their spend-happy problems on the backs of Californians through higher taxes and fees.

For that reason, we encourage a “No” vote on Proposition 56.

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