Hello, Alameda. Finally a state budget

I made a bet with a friend that there’d be a state budget passed by Tuesday midnight. Then we pushed the bet, double or nothing, to noon the next day. And then we just sort of stopped with the betting and started waiting and seeing.

Finally, though, a deal has been made. A 12-cents a gallon gas tax is out, an agreement that legislators won’t be paid when there’s no budget is in—as is a proposal to expand the state lottery and borrow against expected revenue. Details here. I had to do a double-take/triple-blink though when I saw that the deal—reached when one more vote in favor was negotiated with Republican Sen. Abel Maldonado—includes placing a constitutional amendment to change how primaries held in California on the ballot. What a world we live in when a annual budget negotiation includes a promise of constitutional rejiggering?

Huffington Post Blogger Byron Williams, in a post titled, “While California Slept,” has this to say about the sorry state of California’s budget and budget process:

For decades, the California electorate has been buying the overvalued fools gold of direct democracy. We actually believed, based on our votes, we could make better-informed decisions via the initiative process than the individuals we sent to represent us in Sacramento.

And this:

Californians passed the most draconian term limits initiative in the country. It robbed legislators of institutional memory, placed disincentives for members of the opposite party to crossover and make a deal, and its insidious underlying purpose was to get rid of a single individual–former California Speaker Willie Brown.

And this:

The passing of Proposition 13, while still popular, carries that little 2/3-vote requirement to raise revenues, hence the tyranny of the minority. Proposition 98, though perhaps on paper a worthy cause, ties the Legislature’s hands in term of what resources are actually available in the budget.


  • J.A. Boyer

    It all began with Jess Unruh and the voters perception of his control of the legislature. Later, in the same vein, came Willy Brown. So under the leadership of Mr. Jarvis, the voters created the “voterevolution”; limited taxation on property and other taxes (2/3 vote requirement. When that didn’t stop the perceived growth of government, we instituted term limits and really went to work using the voter initiative process.

    We all comment or complain about the size of the state budget but fail to understand the sources and uses of the funds. How much comes from restricted sources for restricted purposes? How much spending is restricted by an initiative imposed by the electorate without a specific identified source of revenue?

    If you’re truly interested, suggest you read the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) analysis of the adopted budget at http://www.lao.ca.gov. Be patient, it will take awhile to be posted. This is the best source of analysis.