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California GOP shows some spine

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:30 pm - March 30, 2011.
Filed under: California politics,Noble Republicans

While I have praised California’s once and current Democratic governor, Jerry Brown, for his attempts to cut the state’s bloated budget, I have faulted him for not seeking solutions to the structural problems which, in large part, account for the constant flow of red ink from Sacramento.  While he has moved to trim myriad extraneous expenditures and gratuitous perks, he has not sought to reform policies which empower a key constituency of his party, public employee unions.

As a result, in order to balance the budget, he has had to resort to raising taxes through referendum.  But, to get that referendum on the ballot, he needs a two-thirds vote in the state legislature which means, he has to rally a few Republicans to his cause.  Well, he got none.  Yesterday, the governor announced that “he halted negotiations with legislative Republicans over a deal to place taxes on the ballot to help resolve California’s remaining $15.4 billion deficit.”

“Yesterday, I stopped the discussions that I had been conducting with various members of the Republican party regarding our state’s massive deficit,” Brown said in a statement this afternoon. “The budget plan that I put forth is balanced between deep cuts and extensions of currently existing taxes and I believe it is in the best interest of California. Under our constitution, however, two Republicans from the Assembly and two from the Senate must agree before this matter can be put to the people.”

“Each and every Republican legislator I’ve spoken to believes that voters should not have this right to vote unless I agree to an ever changing list of collateral demands,” the Democratic governor added.

Senate Republicans on Friday released a list of major policy changes they wanted as a condition of voting for Brown’s budget proposals. The move was widely seen as disruptive to talks, but the governor had reached out to three Senate Republicans this weekend in hopes of salvaging a deal before deciding to call off talks.

One of the three, Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, blamed trial lawyers, unions and “other stakeholders” for being unwilling to negotiate on pension cuts, a long-term cap on spending and regulatory changes.

“As a result of these groups’ refusal to challenge the status quo, it has become clear the governor and legislative Democrats are not in a position to work with us to pass the measures necessary to move California forward,” Cannella said in a statement. “Thus, I do not foresee a path to compromise.”

Kudos to Cannella and other Republicans for standing firm.  It’s too bad the governor has, as of yet, proven unwilling to stand up against the various Democratic interest groups whose demands have long been bankrupting our great state.

Republicans have to use what leverage they have to promote the reforms they believe are necessary to balance the state’s budget.  That said, as Sonicfrog reminds us, “Jerry Brown and the Democrats won the last election fair and square. They have the overwhelming majority and should be able implement the policies they envision as best for California.”  Yet, the state constitution still requires a two-thirds vote for a tax increase.

If Brown and his fellow Democrats do find a way around that provision, then they will own whatever solution they come up with.  And Republicans will be able to hold them to account for their failure to hold the line on taxes, their inability to enact real reforms, their unwillingness to contain the growth of state government and to constrain the power of the public employee unions.



  1. Tom McClintock, one of the smartest legislators ever to hold office here is CA, has stated he’s for getting rid of the 2/3rd rule. His reasoning – Dems will get to do what they want, and this will place all responsibility of the subsequent failure on their shoulders. That’s about the only way voters in this state will start looking at their government with a more critical eye.

    After living in this state for the last 32ish years, and seeing the way it has slowly sunk to the disaster we find ourselves…. I’m inclined to support that reform.

    Comment by Sonicfrog — March 30, 2011 @ 4:59 pm - March 30, 2011

  2. Good point, Sonic.

    Maybe Republicans should have said, we’ll vote for the referendum if Democrats agree to hold it at polling places so as deprive their union allies the chance to use the mail-in system to their advantage.

    Plus, unions would have had to dip into their cash reserves to pay for the campaign, depriving them of state-generated resources to use against Republicans.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — March 30, 2011 @ 5:08 pm - March 30, 2011

  3. To my many conservative friends:

    It is very important that we abandon the anti-union message that we seem to hear grow each day. Instead, let us acknowledge the right for all workers to collective bargaining with the limitation that it is a right, but should not be a condition of employment. The results of collective bargaining are often to the detriment of the workers. The UAW got sweetheart deals, and management looking the other way when workers got less and less productive. Result? Check out the nearest lot for Hondas, Nissans and Toyotas, and check out Detroit’s dismal streets or available manufacturing space here in Fenton, Missouri.

    The public sector is much the same in that the negotiators across the table from the unions are as spineless, perhaps even more corrupt, then those of the Big Three who gave away the store to the UAW. So let us seek legislation that would require public sector contracts be put to the vote of the taxpayers, just as the UAW contracts and member behavior were put to the vote of the car buyer. Unions’ and management’s last best offers go on the ballot for a binding vote by the electorate. And, should we feel the politicians charged with representing us are too spineless, or have made too generous an offer to the unions, we need only look down the ballot to find the opportunity to throw them out. If these thoughts make sense, pass them on.

    Comment by Tom Beebe — March 31, 2011 @ 1:35 pm - March 31, 2011

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