Let voters have say after budget cuts made 

State Controller John Chiang deserves a California Person of the Year award for withholding state legislators’ pay until they come up with a balanced budget. It’s about time someone held their feet to the fire after years of late budgets full of smoke and mirrors.

Proposition 25, titled the “On-Time Budget Act of 2010,” was approved last November, forfeiting legislators’ pay if a balanced budget is not passed by June 15. The Legislature did pass a budget by the deadline but, you guessed it, it once again contained fiscal tomfoolery with nearly $90 billion in spending despite less than $88 billion in revenue.

Components of the budget “were miscalculated, miscounted or unfinished,” said Chiang. “The numbers simply did not add up, and the Legislature will forfeit their pay until a balanced budget is sent to the governor.”

It’s nice to see at least one person is doing his job in Sacramento. And good for Gov. Jerry Brown for promptly vetoing the out-of-whack budget, noting that it “continues big deficits for years to come and adds billions of dollars of new debt. It also contains legally questionable maneuvers, costly borrowing and unrealistic savings.”

So the question remains on how to bridge the remaining $10 billion budget gap. Brown and the Democratic legislators want to extend the tax and fee hikes that are due to expire at the end of this month. To do so they need the votes of several Republican legislators.

But the Republicans oppose tax and fee hikes, arguing that they hurt economic growth in a state with an 11.7 percent unemployment rate and among the highest taxation and regulation  in the country. Republicans instead favor reining in spending with more budget cuts, pension reform and a state spending cap.

Brown has complained that “Republicans in the Legislature blocked the right of the people to vote on this honest, balanced budget.” But while Brown has indicated support for a spending cap referendum, he and the Democrats have so far opposed the right of the people to vote on pension reform.

We say let the people decide in November all three proposals: tax and fee hikes, pension reform and a spending cap. Voters may be more likely to support taxes if they know their money will be spent responsibly on priorities such as education and safety instead of being frittered away on six-figure annual payouts to pension-spiking retirees and other waste, fraud and abuse.

In the meantime, the legislators should make the cuts, painful as they are, in the budget to get the state’s fiscal house in order. After years of kicking the can down the road with accounting gimmicks, it’s time for the Legislature to do its job and earn its pay.

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