It seems everyone’s got an opinion on the state budget these days — our local pols included.
Here are some quotes from conversations I had last week with mayors in three local cities:
“I’m pleased that it has passed, which will help free up some of the cash flow that has been held back by the state controller. However, I’m not happy about the tax increases and the fact that taxes are being raised in the middle of one of the worst recessions we have had in decades.” — Joe Vinatieri, Whittier mayor
“I think there are going to be serious repercussions. Without a doubt, solving the budget by increasing taxes is not the way to go and I’m very disappointed. ”
— Frank Venti, Monterey Park mayor
“I’m cautiously optimistic about the future. I know California still has a tremendous deficit. We have a lot of problems pending. We have the clouds of recession hanging over us. Passing the budget is the necessary first step on the path to a brighter future, economically speaking. But we still have a lot of work ahead of us.”
— Louie Lujan, La Puente mayor
Lujan went on to question the two-thirds majority needed to pass California’s budget. Ever since the drawn-out process to get the state’s budget approved began, lawmakers have been mulling the requirement, and whether its time for voters to dump it.
In fact the Associated Press had this story today about the issue:
“We have to do something,” said Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael. “I think anybody who’s watched this slow-motion train wreck over the last three months ought to agree that this system no longer works, if it ever did.”
California is one of only a handful of states that require more than a simple majority to pass budget bills. Rhode Island, like California, requires a two-thirds vote. Arkansas requires three-fourths votes to pass most appropriation bills and simple majorities to approve a separate bill that sets the state’s spending priorities.
Lujan said he didn’t know what the solution was, but “something less than two-thirds has to seriously be considered.”
He also said he found it out odd that among Republican Sen. Abel Maldonado’s demands in exchange for his “yes” vote, Maldonado asked for ballot measures that would create an open primary system.
“Maldonado’s proposal in changing the California elections code has nothing to do with budgetary process,” Lujan said. “It surprises me … it’s an odd forum to discuss (that).”
On the Los Angeles County supervisor front, Michael Antonovich released this statement last week about his thoughts on the state budget:
“What was missing was a comprehensive package of structural reforms including eliminating or consolidating overlapping departments and high-paying political commissions … Imposing one of the highest tax rates in the nation is a tax-and-spend orgy that further drives businesses, individuals and jobs out of state.”