Friday, July 23, 2010
IN MY OPINION (Column)
Manufactured Budget Crisis a Replay of 2003 Strategy
By JON COUPAL
In Sacramento, what’s old is new again. It’s like Jackie Goldberg, the bombastic Assembly member who termed out in 2006, never left.
In July of 2003, 11 of the most radical members of the Assembly, known as the “progressive caucus,” met to discuss the budget stalemate.
In private conversation, these lawmakers strategized on how a delay in passing the budget could help a government employee union sponsored initiative that would lower the two-thirds vote to pass both the budget and tax increases.
Assemblyman Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) stated his desire to “precipitate a crisis,” that might persuade voters to lower the two-thirds vote threshold needed to pass a spending plan. Ultra-liberal Jackie Goldberg (D-Los Angeles) suggested that the Democrats should force a crisis sooner rather than later. “It seems to me if there’s going to be a crisis, the crisis should be this year,” she said.
We know about this secret 2003 budget strategy of the most liberal Democrats in the Legislature because the microphone in their caucus room was left on and their machinations were broadcast throughout the Capitol.
Exactly seven years later, with Goldberg long gone from the Legislature, Speaker John Perez is carrying on in her spirit. We know this because his confidential memo to Democrats ordering them not to negotiate on the budget has become public. Is there any question that Perez is taking a page from Goldberg’s playbook by using a self-created crisis to help promote a ballot measure that would make it easier for the Legislature to spend money? Is it just coincidence that Perez is trying to covertly obstruct passage of a state budget when voters are scheduled this November to decide the fate of Proposition 25, which would allow a budget to be passed, along with any taxes contained in an appropriations bill, with a simple majority?
Proposition 25, backed by former Senate leader John Burton, would give the tax-and-spend gang in the state Legislature carte blanch to carry on taxing and spending as usual, only more so. It would eliminate the two-thirds vote to pass a budget that has been in effect since 1933 and make it easier to circumvent Proposition 13’s requirement of a two-thirds vote to increase state taxes.
So the budget impasse in Sacramento is much more than just an honest disagreement on priorities. It looks like Perez’s desire to manipulate voters into approving an ill conceived ballot measure this November is a major component of his obstructionist behavior. Jackie would be proud.
Taxpayers hope this year there will be a second parallel with Jackie Goldberg’s scheming to precipitate a crisis to gain passage of an anti-taxpayer measure. Her favored measure, Proposition 56, the pathologically misnamed “Budget Accountability Act,” went down in flames when voters realized that it was a self-serving effort by lawmakers and their public employee union allies to institutionalize irresponsible spending and taxation.
Voters have proven their wisdom on these measures when they have the facts. Sorry, Speaker Perez, but when they learn the truth about Proposition 25, being promoted with the innocent sounding title of “The On-time Budget Act,” voters’ reaction is likely to be just as negative.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company