State legislators have sent 600 bills to Gov. Jerry Brown, many of which he has promised to veto. One of those should be Senate Bill 202, which does two things that represent partisan politics at its worst.
First, it denies Californians the opportunity to vote in June on creation of a 3 percent reserve fund in the state budget. This “rainy-day” fund would help the state avoid the perennial budget crises that force it to issue IOUs when it runs out of money.
Last year, as part of a budget compromise, legislative leaders from both parties agreed to place the creation of this fund on the June ballot. But in a sneaky legislative maneuver on the last day of the session, most of the Democrats reneged on their promise to Republicans and passed SB 202, which postpones the vote on the rainy-day fund until November 2014.
In the meantime, legislators will continue spending every dime that comes in and then some, ensuring the state budget will remain in crisis mode for years to come.
The other partisan provision in this bill is that it bans from June’s primary election ballot many of the propositions that are currently seeking signatures to qualify for that ballot. Instead, they will be pushed back to the November 2012 general election ballot.
Democrats argue that propositions should only be voted on in a general election due to the greater turnout. That sounds good until you realize that it will significantly increase the number of propositions that voters will have to wade through in November. Had this been in effect in 2000, voters would have had to decide on 28 propositions on one ballot. Many voters would simply tune out and vote no on everything.
What’s really going on is that SB 202 is an effort by Democrats to keep the gravy train rolling for the government employee unions. They are concerned that the June primary ballot will attract a strong Republican turnout due to the presidential campaign.
Republicans would be likely to support creation of a rainy-day fund, which would mean less money for government employee salaries and benefits. Many Republicans would also vote for a couple of propositions headed for that ballot, one of which would ban unions from giving dues to political candidates and the other would limit the growth in state spending to no more than the growth in population plus inflation.
In his State of the State speech at the beginning of the year, Brown said, “This is not a time for politics as usual,” and noted that “our two main political parties both in Washington and in California are as far apart as I have ever seen them.” Brown also argued that Californians should be allowed to vote on budgetary matters.
Brown should veto SB 202, sending a message to Democrats against the usual partisan politics and allowing all Californians, even non-Republicans, the opportunity to vote next June on the rainy-day fund, reining in state spending and other important issues.