Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Governor Vetoes Legislature's Budget Bill

After warning the legislature yesterday their budget proposal was without meaningful budget reform, Governor Schwarzenegger announced this afternoon he would veto the legislature's proposal. Legislative leaders have said they'd attempt to override if the governor didn't sign. An override of the governor's veto requires a two-thirds majority, the same needed to pass a budget.

The Sacramento Bee reports:

"People aren't getting paid, hospitals are in danger of closing, but I will not sign a get out of town budget...that punishes taxpayers," Schwarzenegger said.

If lawmakers vote to override the veto, Schwarzenegger said, he will veto all the bills awaiting action on his desk.

The Sacramento Bee described the weekend budget deal as being rushed to a vote with little or no opportunity for the public to obtain and analyze the hundreds of pages containing the budget proposal and about two dozen trailer bills to implement it and said it addresses the state's $15.2 billion deficit largely by advancing revenues to be collected in future years, employing accounting maneuvers, and shifting or borrowing money from other state funds. The Los Angeles Times reports that among the add-ons to the budget package were a bill exempting high-tech companies from some labor rules, which both houses approved.

Reaction from outside the legislature to the proposal had been largely negative. State Treasurer Bill Lockyer said the legislature's budget proposal gives gimmicks a bad name. In an editorial the Sacramento Bee wrote: If this is the best the Legislature could do, California voters should be wondering what their lawmakers have been up to all summer.

Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters called the proposal easily the worst budget in memory. Last month a business group called the Bay Area Council called for a state constitutional convention, arguing it's the only realistic way to address the state's perennial budget mess because so much of the problem is in the state constitution itself:

California's system of taxation and spending is almost entirely hardwired into the Constitution. It produces wildly fluctuating revenue booms and busts that put state services on a cruel feast-or-famine roller coaster that drags the poor, the elderly, children and even the business community along for the painful ride. Similarly, local funding is hogtied to the state's, forcing our cities and counties to suffer as well from outdated laws in the Constitution. California's bureaucratic red tape is legendary, reflecting nothing of our 21st century economy, culture and society.

That is because so many state agencies, boards and commissions have been placed forever in our Constitution. Texas actually has a Sunset Commission in which nearly all of its 150 agencies are automatically abolished after 12 years, unless legislation is enacted to continue them. Alas, our state Constitution prevents this, too. California's Constitution was always meant to be a living document that could adjust to the times. The time has come to make serious adjustments. As Jefferson would remind us, this is not just a right, it is a patriot's solemn duty.

In a separate news story in today's San Francisco Chronicle, Bill Lockyer was quoted as saying We need radical reform of the state Constitution. I hope this tragedy will provide that.


No comments: