Via Flash Report, we learn that the California General Assembly will be voting tomorrow on Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposal. Now while the budget will pass because, thanks to Proposition 25, the package only needs a majority, there is one wrinkle: legislators still need a two-thirds majority to put the proposed tax increase on the June ballot. And to get that two-thirds, they’re going to need a few Republican votes. And well, there is a tax hike proposal in the Democrat’s plan.
And Jon Fleishman doesn’t think any Republican votes are forthcoming:
Oh yes, Brown’s budget has not been revised to accept the political reality, which is that there are no Republican votes to place the largest tax increase in the history of any state on the ballot this June. And Brown has not responded by putting forward the additional cuts necessary to present a real, balanced budget to the legislature. . . .
Ultimately, however, Democrats can take some consolation. Once they absorb that they will not be seeing Republican votes for a tax increase on the ballot, they will realize that they will not need one Republican vote for a “no new taxes” budget.
In placing this tax hike on the ballot, Brown is attempting to deliver on his campaign promise not to raise taxes without a vote. Now, some people probably voted for the Democrat thinking that he wouldn’t do such a thing because Californians had already — overwhelmingly — rejected a variety of tax increases. He must have known, they assumed, that we’d reject them again. Despite the failure of the May 2009 measures (backed by the state’s political class), California Republicans, including yours truly, knew that once elected Brown would indeed try to raises taxes.
Now, to be sure, Democrats are billing this as merely extending the current tax rate, but that’s extending an increase that was supposed to be temporary. And while I do fault the governor for not cutting as deeply as he should in order to balance the budget without raising taxes and for not promoting the kinds of structural reforms that will make it easier for future legislatures to hold the line on state spending, I do appreciate his seriousness of purpose.
In contrast to his first gubernatorial term, this time, Brown seems to have been burning the midnight oil rather than partying with celebrities and hobnobbing with counterculture figures. He has done a far better job of cutting that many on the right anticipated and shown a greater commitment to holding the line on government spending than have his colleague in Illinois and his party’s leadership in Washington. And as Tim Cavanaugh noted in Reason magazine, the Democrat “has given serious thought to a public employee compensation crisis that threatens not just the prosperous California favored by free marketers but the technocratic, big-government California favored by progressives.”
But, he doesn’t seem to have considered how his budget-balancing plan, particularly the tax hike, will impact California businesses struggling to survive in a sluggish economy. In focusing on balancing the budget, he has apparently failed to consider reforms which would improve the state’s business climate.
Maybe he intends to tackle those once the legislature has passed a budget.