As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, April 20, 2009

Be Afraid, Yacht Party, Be Very Afraid

In a last-ditch and ultimately futile attempt to get the Republicans to support the May 19 ballot measures, Yacht Party leader in the Assembly Mike Villines played the majority vote card.

One fear of GOP lawmakers surrounding the May 19 special election is that should the ballot measures fail, Democrats and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger could go around them and simply swap certain taxes for fees and raise revenues without their votes [...]

"I know it's counterintuitive, but by coming to the table and negotiating, we saved the two-thirds protection," Villines said as the California Republican Party opposed the measures. "Mark my word, I believe that if these initiatives don't go through, you will see a majority-vote budget, you will see it signed and you will see the defense of taxpayers in this state disappear."

Mike, you say that like majority rule is a bad thing.

Unfortunately I don't share the optimism of Asm. Villines about the backbone of the Democratic Party to go ahead and fill the budget gap with a work-around fee increase. I had the opportunity to share the stage with a couple members of the legislature this weekend to debate the special election, and in particular, Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez seemed especially pessimistic on the majority vote option. He basically said that the lawyers advising the legislature questions the legality of the effort and that if the ballot measures fail, "we will have a cuts-only budget." He even went so far as to identify particular cuts that have already been discussed, all affecting the usual suspects - the elderly, the blind, the IHSS patients, kids without health care, CalWorks members, etc. So that's the May 20th strategy that the legislature is teeing up.

Now, maybe it's easier to ramp up the fear by playing up this disaster scenario in the event of the failure of the ballot measures. But I definitely expressed disappointment that the Majority Leader was foreclosing on an option which the nonpartisan Legislative Counsel found perfectly legal. I see no need to shut down creative solutions to the budget problem, especially when they can offer a glimpse into how a working government can function in a post-two-thirds environment. Even moderates and conservatives understand that the Yacht Party has hijacked the state and irresponsibly used their chokehold on legislative rules to force failed solutions and drive California into a fiscal ditch. The point is that this is coming, or at least it ought to be, whether by a work-around or ballot initiative, and we can end this hostage situation that Republicans have forced upon us for the last thirty years. To their credit, everyone in the legislature that I've talked to wants to move forward on repealing two-thirds.

Sen. Florez and I had a lot else to discuss in our debate (including his admission that "if you want to vote No on 1F, go ahead," which was a bit off the reservation), including the continued debate over the state spending cap, Prop. 1A (or a spending constraint, if you prefer, but certainly not anything like the inoffensive tweak that supporters make it out to be). In the end, the West Los Angeles Democratic Club took no position on anything but No on 1E, and PDA, where I also spoke this weekend, voted NO on all the ballot measures.

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