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Torlakson seeks to end two-thirds budget vote

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Wednesday, March 26th, 2008 at 3:48 pm in California budget, California Legislature.

State Sen. Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, has introduced legislation that would allow lawmakers to pass a budget and raise taxes with a majority rather than two-thirds vote.

Senate Constitutional Amendment 22 will let the Legislature pass a budget by a majority vote and send the spending plan to the Governor. It will bring California in line with 47 other states that pass budgets by a majority vote, Torlakson said.

The two-thirds protection is revered by conservatives and Republicans, whose only true power in the Legislature rests with their ability to block a budgets and new tax measures and thereby force Democrats to meet at least some of their demands in return for a deal.

But both sides have dug in their heels on how to close next year’s remaining $8 billion budget gap and many expect to see a bitter, drawn out fight that may lead to competing ballot-box budgeting measures in November. Democrats want a combination of cuts and new taxes while Republicans oppose tax hikes. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed mostly cuts, including reductions in education.

Here’s what Torlakson’s press release said:

California is one of only three states that require a two-thirds vote to pass a budget. This “supermajority” requirement has repeatedly led to budget gridlock that delays funding to schools, colleges, health care for the elderly and disabled, and other vital services, said Torlakson, D-Antioch.

“When a budget plan is clearly crafted and approved by one party or the other, then that party can get the praise or the reprimand at the ballot box,” Torlakson said. “The current system leads to finger pointing and excuses for concessions made to one party or the other.”

SCA 22 also allows the Legislature to raise revenues with a majority vote.

California endured 52 days without a state budget in 2007, when Senate Republicans refused to provide enough votes to pass the spending plan. Only two other states – Arkansas and Rhode Island – require a two-thirds vote to pass state budgets. Congress and most cities and counties have a majority vote requirement.

Principal co-authors for SCA 22 are Sen. Elaine Alquist, D-Santa Clara and Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley; co-authors are Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica and Assemblyman Mark DeSaulnier, D-Martinez.

The two-thirds requirement in California started in 1933, when the vote threshold was tied to annual budget growth exceeding 5 percent. A 1962 Constitutional Amendment applied the two-thirds vote to all state budgets.

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  • Ken Hambrick

    The claim that 47 states have only a majority vote for budget approval is only a part of the story. The rest of the story is that a great many of those states have spending and budget caps which we do not. This forces their legislatures to develop balanced budgets and keeps them from spending beyound their income.

    If we had such requirements, perhaps we wouldn’t need the “supermajority” for budget approval. The next thing on Torlakson’s agenda is to eliminate the constitutional requirement for a “supermajority” to enact new taxes.

    Just think where we will be should we end up, as we have now, a Democrat controlled “tax and spend” legislature and we get a Democrat governor (does Jerry Brown sound familiar)? Even your 401Ks and IRAs wouldn’t be safe then. The state would tax us all enough to force us to wipe them out.

    And It really give me a warm feeling to know this bill is co-sponsored by Mark DeSaulnier (the chief architect of the county’s financial debacle) and Ms. “liberal” herself Loni Hancock (the pride of Berkeley).

    Hopefully the good people of California will see through this idiocy and insist that budget caps and spending limits be set in place before considering such a proposal

  • Ken Hambrick

    The claim that 47 states have only a majority vote for budget approval is only a part of the story. The rest of the story is that a great many of those states have spending and budget caps which we do not. This forces their legislatures to develop balanced budgets and keeps them from spending beyound their income.

    If we had such requirements, perhaps we wouldn’t need the “supermajority” for budget approval. The next thing on Torlakson’s agenda is to eliminate the constitutional requirement for a “supermajority” to enact new taxes.

    Just think where we will be should we end up, as we have now, a Democrat controlled “tax and spend” legislature and we get a Democrat governor (does Jerry Brown sound familiar)? Even your 401Ks and IRAs wouldn’t be safe then. The state would tax us all enough to force us to wipe them out.

    And It really give me a warm feeling to know this bill is co-sponsored by Mark DeSaulnier (the chief architect of the county’s financial debacle) and Ms. “liberal” herself Loni Hancock (the pride of Berkeley).

    Hopefully the good people of California will see through this idiocy and insist that budget caps and spending limits be set in place before considering such a proposal

  • Dan Carter

    Here is where we would be. The Hwy Patrol would be retireing at age 30, teachers would be paid 250000 thousand a year. Naturall they would take a subatical every other year, sales taxes would be 20 percent, gas taxes 1 dollar a gallon, politicans would drive RR Etc when you went to the dentist you would pay 50 to 500 Dollar sales taxes and so on. Since giving money to gov is like giving heroin to an attic, the gov would soon over dose on the money and the deficit would be 150 billion and growing. All business would leave california and people would have to deed thier houses to gov because they couldn’t make the payments. Naturally all gov employees would get 15 to 25 percent pay raises every year. Then like Chernoble it would implode in a matter of minutes. Dan

  • Dan Carter

    Here is where we would be. The Hwy Patrol would be retireing at age 30, teachers would be paid 250000 thousand a year. Naturall they would take a subatical every other year, sales taxes would be 20 percent, gas taxes 1 dollar a gallon, politicans would drive RR Etc when you went to the dentist you would pay 50 to 500 Dollar sales taxes and so on. Since giving money to gov is like giving heroin to an attic, the gov would soon over dose on the money and the deficit would be 150 billion and growing. All business would leave california and people would have to deed thier houses to gov because they couldn’t make the payments. Naturally all gov employees would get 15 to 25 percent pay raises every year. Then like Chernoble it would implode in a matter of minutes. Dan

  • Dan Carter

    That was addic

  • Dan Carter

    That was addic

  • Dan Carter

    addict

  • Dan Carter

    addict

  • Renegade GOP

    This is not a serious proposal. Tommy T. Is planning a run for state school sup. He is just consolidating his base with statewide dems.

  • Renegade GOP

    This is not a serious proposal. Tommy T. Is planning a run for state school sup. He is just consolidating his base with statewide dems.

  • Ken Hambrick

    I think it is a serious proposal. Did you see DeSaulnier’s commentary in the Times a week or so ago? He is pushing hard for it too. We have to watch this closely or by hook or crook these guys will put something over on us.

  • Ken Hambrick

    I think it is a serious proposal. Did you see DeSaulnier’s commentary in the Times a week or so ago? He is pushing hard for it too. We have to watch this closely or by hook or crook these guys will put something over on us.

  • Harry Baker

    I strongly support Torlakson’s SCA22.

    The goal of the Republican-Friedmanites in our state government is to kill public education, kill public health care and kill all social services. Shame on them! They are religious and economic fanatics who have theirs and know how to protect it. In their view, people without family wealth and status are worthless. They entered government to kill it. So we do indeed have a fight on our hands.

    SCA22 has the potential of a rallying call that could be heard all up and down this state–unfurling a banner behind which all of us can march who support democratic ideals and the notion that the strength of our social organization, government, should be used to reduce suffering, and educate and uplift all of us.

  • Harry Baker

    I strongly support Torlakson’s SCA22.

    The goal of the Republican-Friedmanites in our state government is to kill public education, kill public health care and kill all social services. Shame on them! They are religious and economic fanatics who have theirs and know how to protect it. In their view, people without family wealth and status are worthless. They entered government to kill it. So we do indeed have a fight on our hands.

    SCA22 has the potential of a rallying call that could be heard all up and down this state–unfurling a banner behind which all of us can march who support democratic ideals and the notion that the strength of our social organization, government, should be used to reduce suffering, and educate and uplift all of us.

  • http://TheBlueSheet I told you

    If you mean public education where the employees get 10 and 15 percent pay raises every year while at the same time I am sacrificing my life and future to keep supporting a junkie gov that needs a bigger fix. If you want the schools to get more money why not advocate cutting the CHPs 95 percent reirement.

  • http://TheBlueSheet I told you

    If you mean public education where the employees get 10 and 15 percent pay raises every year while at the same time I am sacrificing my life and future to keep supporting a junkie gov that needs a bigger fix. If you want the schools to get more money why not advocate cutting the CHPs 95 percent reirement.