Budget Passes State Legislature; Expected to be Signed on Saturday

State Senator Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria) broke ranks with the rest of the California Senate Republican Caucus and voted for the bad budget bill. With his vote, the 2/3 majority was obtained and the budget was sent to the State Assembly. It passed the Assembly early this morning.

A few changes were made in order to buy persuade Maldonado to change his vote. First, the state will hold open primaries for state offices. Rather than the Republican and Democratic parties holding their own primaries with the winners facing off in the general election, the top two vote-getters will face a run-off in November. There are, though, major constitutional issues regarding an open primary in California. An open primary law for presidential elections was thrown out by the State Supreme Court a few years ago. This law will undoubtedly face similar challenges.

Second, the gasoline tax increase ($0.12/gallon) has been removed from the measure. However, gasoline prices will increase as the sales tax, which does apply to gasoline, will be going up by 1%.

Third, the legislature agreed to stop itself from getting a pay raise if the budget is late. The legislature refused to stop itself from being paid—just the pay increase was put on hold.

As I’ve said before this budget is the equivalent of putting a Band-Aid on a patient needing open heart surgery. California needs to drastically cut its spending. The $15.4 billion in budget cuts in this bill are superficial and will not fix the systemic state deficit. Come June, I believe the legislature will have to deal with a $6 to $10 billion shortfall. The new tax increases will not raise what is projected (tax increases never raise the intended amounts). Will California’s legislature have the guts to address the systemic issues (a bloated bureaucracy, duplicative programs with the federal government, and programs that a state should not be running) that cause the budget deficit?

I think we’ve seen the answer. Unfortunately, pigs don’t fly.

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