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Schwarzenegger says 'no' to majority budget votes [UPDATED]

Python rich pedroncelli

If California adopted its budgets by majority vote of the Legislature, like every other state except Arkansas and Rhode Island, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would be home by now. But we don't, and apparently the governor wants to keep things the way they are. He told the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce this morning he opposes lowering the vote requirement from the current two-thirds.

The Times' PolitiCal blog quotes the governor expressing concern that a majority vote would allow only one party to make all the decisions. (Well, yes, Arnold. The majority party).

The Sacramento Bee's Capitol Alert quotes the governor noting that if Democrats used their majority vote, they'd adopt higher taxes.

Updated: Here's the full transcript of the governor's discussion with the L.A. chamber.

Which is really what the two-thirds vote issue, and Proposition 25, the Nov. 2 measure to switch to a majority vote, are all about: taxes. Prop. 25 would leave the two-thirds requirement for raising taxes in place, by the way. I'll let the Times' George Skelton explain it.

Isn't there something inherently anti-democratic (as opposed to merely anti-Democrat) in allowing a minority party to say "no" to a budget? If Republicans lose their one-third-plus in each house of the Legislature, should we then adopt a three-fifths requirement? Should we require unanimity? And if the majority party did adopt something hated by a majority of Californians, wouldn't we vote them out?

Here are some Proposition 25 basics. More info, and more argument, to come.

Full text of the measure (from the Secretary of State's Office).

Title and summary (from the Attorney General's Office).

Impartial analysis (by the Legislative Analyst's Office).

The photo, by the way, is of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger being squeezed by his own conflicting demands for a budget and for a "consensus" forced by a two-thirds vote. OK, no it's not. It's of him with a Burmese python at the opening day, July 14, of the California State Fair in Sacramento.

-- Robert Greene

Photo credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press


Comments () | Archives (13)

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LOL. Socialism is great until you run out of other people's money to spend.

When the 47% of Californians who do not pay taxes, start paying taxes, maybe we can go to a simple majority vote.

But until we undo the damage done by the professional voting class, NO Thanks.

How about a simple test? If you pay income taxes, you get to vote?


Why don't we only let tax payers vote?

Robert Greene

Daniel and quatidion:

We long ago severed the link between property and voting rights, and thank goodness. You don't really want a system in which tax money, rather than citizenship and the vote, gives you a stake in the government, do you? Perhaps the two-thirds rule is seen as a stand-in for that kind of a system -- in which case, all the more reason to get rid of it. California should not be governed by and for only the wealthy, even if they do pay the largest share of the income taxes.


It's the money that is being taxed, not the people. Do you really expect sympathy for having all the money? Besides isn't trickle down economics another way of redistributing the wealth? Lets call a spade a spade.


LOL. Actually, Steve, I don't need sympathy nor do I have money. But I do believe that the people who have the money have made much better decisions in their lives than the people who don't have money and are trying to take it from them by government force.

No one I know with money is not generous and does not give to charity. Everyone one I know, with or without money, will fight if anyone tries to take something from them.

This is tyranny of a simple majority, created by the tax structure, to become a professional voting class that chooses the politician that gives them the largest bribe.

If you want to call that democracy, your choice, but I call it tryanny.


"You don't really want a system in which tax money, rather than citizenship and the vote, gives you a stake in the government, do you?"

Well, actually, Robert Greene. If that's the only choice, yes.

But what I would rather have is everyone pay taxes, every contribute what they can, percentage wise, and everyone with a stake in deciding money matters.

If you're a professional voting underclass, you have no stake in fiscal responsibility. Your vote goes to the political hack that gives you the most for your vote.

I would rather have someone with a stake in it, deciding it.

Wade Major

Let's put an end to this "anti-democratic" talk shall we? There is nothing inherently good in anything that is "democratic." The majority is often wrong and will, if given the chance, stomp on the minority at every chance. So the 2/3 requirement is good. Democrats don't like it because they're in power. But some day the Republicans will be back in power and the Democrats will be grateful they have the 2/3 vote to empower them to force negotiation. If this stifles our budget process, so be it. Maybe electing more sensible legislators, rather than whining about the 2/3 requirement, would be a better solution.


How nice to see 'Conan' with a smaller version of snake. The 'Barbarian' still looks edible.

Mitchell Young

If 1/3 of the elected representatives blocking legislation is undemocratic, how much worse is a single, non-elected judge doing the same?

Jon Healey

@Mitchell -- What's your proposed solution for disputes over constitutional questions? Putting them up to a vote? Sounds like you're questioning the wisdom of Marbury vs. Madison. Good luck with that line of argument. :-)


LOL. The problem is, California, that if you raise taxes, again, on the wealthy, the 1% that pay 50% of the taxes will leave.

All the Fortune 500 Companies are leaving California.

Then where will you be?

Socialism is great, until you run out of other people's money to spend.


Also... maybe this is not politically correct, but it should be mentioned.

California is running adds on the eastern coast, advertising for people to move to California.

All the people, ALL the people in those adds, are white. All the places they show in California are prestine.

All the recreation, whites only.

What's up with that?

Let me theorize that California is losing it's white, tax paying, population and needs to entice them back.

Mitchell Young

@Jon -- as every student of political science knows, the living ideal of a *democratic representative government* is the Westminster model, in which the legislature (Parliament) is supreme. In effect whatever it does is constitutional; there is virtually no check on its power, no judicial review. Not saying that is a good thing, but it certainly is democratic.

As to Marbury v. Madison, the case was basically about the Federalists trying to change the structure of government -- ironically to frustrate the incoming government elected in a democratic (for the time) election. Marshall wasn't blocking substantive legislation, rather was trying to keep Adams and the Federalists from changing the rules of the game. In a sense he was siding with a democratic decision -- the general election -- against the losing, outgoing administration. That's a very different matter than the recent *lower court* decision in Arizona, or the current case on Prop. 8 in California, both of which deal with substantive issues.

If your colleague wants to hold out pure democracy as a Good Thing, then he has to deal with democratic decisions which go against his values. Conversely, he cannot cheer on anti-democratic decisions which he(no doubt) agrees with (Arizona) but be against anti-democratic structures he disagrees with (2/3 requirement for a budget) simply because they limit democracy. Well, he can, but his intellectual integrity will suffer.



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