Unions boost measure to repeal 2/3 requirement

Labor unions this week dumped more than $1 million into a proposed ballot measure that would change the legislative vote requirement to pass a state budget from two-thirds to a simple majority.

The California Federation of Teachers’ Committee on Political Education (COPE) on Wednesday put $700,000 into the “Teachers, Firefighters and Nurses for an On-Time Budget” committee; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) had kicked in $350,000 a day earlier, and the California Professional Firefighters gave $7,702 on Friday.

The committee is backing the “On-Time Budget Act of 2010,” which reduces the voting threshold to pass a budget while also providing that that if the Legislature fails to pass a budget bill by June 15, all lawmakers will permanently forfeit any pay and expenses for every day until the day the budget is passed. The proponents have until May 10 to gather valid signatures from at least 694,354 registered voters in order to put the proposed constitutional amendment on November’s ballot.

Meanwhile, the California Teachers Association put $580,850 this past week into its “Taxpayers for Jobs and Against Corporate Handouts” committee, which is pushing a ballot measure to repeal several corporate tax loopholes enacted in recent years.

Specifically, it would repeal laws that let businesses shift operating losses to prior tax years and extend the period permitted to shift operating losses to future tax years; that let corporations share tax credits with affiliated corporations; that let multistate businesses used a sales-based income calculation instead of a calculation based on a combination of property, payroll and sales. The Legislative Analyst’s Office says this would raise about $1.7 billion in revenue for the state when fully phased in, starting in 2011-12. The proponents have until May 13 to gather valid signatures from at least 433,971 registered voters in order to put this proposed statute on November’s ballot.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • John W.

    Even if this passed, there would still be the supermajority requirement for taxes. Since most budget disputes are about taxes, what purpose is served in eliminating the supermajority requirement for just the budget and not the taxes?

  • Common Tater

    Keep note of which groups want to raise your taxes. And why do they want to raise your taxes? It’s to give themselves a pay raise, dummy.

    California Federation of Teachers

    American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees

    California Professional Firefighters

    Hide your wallets!

  • John W.

    Re: #2 Common Tater:

    I guess the “dummy” remark is directed at me. Ouch! The things people will say when they are anonymous and not looking you in the eye!

    I merely raised the question of what the practical effect would be of lifting the supermajority requirement for passing a budget without also lifting the supermajority requirement on taxes. Agree with them or not, the Democrats have always insisted that it is impossible to balance the budget with spending cuts alone. Agree with them or not, the Republicans have insisted on spending cuts alone (but have never specified a package of spending cuts large enough to legitimately balance the budget). So, to a significant extent, the budget arguments are about taxes. Hence, my question.

  • Common Tater

    Apologies to John W. The “dummy” label was truly free-floating and directed at people who want to make it easier to raise taxes in the legislature by lowering the standard.

    The power to tax is the power to destroy, and the Cal-Leg is doing a pretty good job of destruction.

  • Mike F.

    I like the super majority on the budget. It ensures a healty debate. Sure its difficult to get everyone to agree, but that is the beauty of it. A simple majority makes it too easy for any party in power to get to completion, instead of making tough decisions, which is why we voted for our legislators. Also, this new measure of “on-time budget” is just to put the squeeze on the hold-outs. I’m sure any “no” voters will become popular with their collegues, especailly when they try to get other legislative biz done. I agree this is just a ploy to get those easy budgets that promise payouts to Gov’t workers. Besides this can’t be legal with our labor laws. Geez, don’t we know about incentives, instead of always punishing people.