Budgetary Curiosity

The state of California has approved a budget

If you look at a graph of, say, the quality of California schools, you will see a clear point at which a steady horizontal line drops, slowly then rapidly, from a specific moment: when Prop 13 passed. One bruising legacy of Prop 13 is that now California must have a 2/3 majority to do nice little things like pass a budget. And so a minority Republicans from, for example, the developments north of Oxnard can hold up the budget for whatever reason they choose. And because many of these people live in fear of organizations like the Club for Growth running a primary battle against them if they vote to raise taxes, we reach impasses like the one we’ve now got.

Which brings us to the budget. The new budget will raise taxes, cut deeply into services, and borrow like mad deep into the future, leaving everyone unhappy.

The vote that let the budget pass was provided by Republican Abel Maldonado of beautiful Santa Maria. We don’t – and can’t – know what he was promised in full. But we do know that Maldonado wanted state constitutional amendments banning legislative pay increases during deficit years, the elimination of a 12-cent increase in gasoline taxes from the plan, and an amendment that would make California political primaries open and nonpartisan.

Banning pay increases during deficit years? Fine. Elimination of a gas tax? Kind of stupid for all sorts of reasons (the California fetishization of cars is eerie and the subject for another time). An ammendment to make California primaries open and nonpartisan? Well, hmmm. Open and nonpartisan. That sounds nice. Open. Nonpartisan. Very nice. But, um, hmm. Won’t this mean that minority Republicans will have a say in which Democrats get elected? And couldn’t this in turn mean that a revived and active progressive left will have to fight even harder for the most basic issues in this sprawling state?

Well, yes, hmm. Personal take: we now have more evidence, more ammunition for the arguement that this diverse and sprawling state must simply toss out our rule books and governors and start the whole fucking thing over again.

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