"When democratic ideals and calls for the right to vote are stirring the imagination of young people in Egypt and Tunisia and other parts of the world, we in California can’t say now is the time to block a vote of the people. In the ordinary course of things, matters of state concern are properly handled in Sacramento. But when the elected representatives find themselves bogged down by deep differences which divide them, the only way forward is to go back to the people and seek their guidance. It is time for a legislative check-in with the people of California". - Governor Jerry Brown to the Legislature on January 31, 2011, just 90 days after the voters elected him, the members of the Legislature, approved 4 and rejected 5 statewide ballot measures.I'm not quite sure who Governor Brown is trying to incite comparing the California budget situation to this past week's situation in Egypt. It's tempting to call it demagoguery except it's so absurd it's stupid.
For a moment, let's discuss Governor Moonbeam's game. Basically he's saying that Republican Legislators who oppose putting on the ballot in June an extension of the "temporary" sales, use, income and vehicle taxes (imposed as part of the 2009-2010 budget agreement) are like Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Nevermind the fact that these Legislators were just elected in a free, fair, and open election 90 days ago, just like Brown. Nevermind the fact that the constituencies of these Legislators elected them knowing they opposed any tax increase beyond June 2011.
Brown said this because the voters placed in the Constitution of the State a provision that such a tax increase proposal requires a two-third's vote of each house of the Legislature. He's unhappy that the Republican Legislators constitute more than a third in both houses. So Brown tells us:
Under our form of government, it would be unconscionable to tell the electors of this state that they have no right to decide whether it is better to extend current tax statutes another five years or chop another $12 billion out of schools, public safety, our universities and our system of caring for the most vulnerable.Doesn't Brown remember that less than two years ago the voters exercised their right to decide this issue. On May 19, 2009, Proposition 1A was on the ballot in California as an legislatively-referred constitutional amendment which could have extended the very same temporary tax increases through 2011-12. The voters rejected the measure by a 65% "no" vote.
The State's financial condition hasn't changed that much since May 2009. Not that it matters. What the voters say doesn't matter to Governor Moonbeam.
It is a fact that 90 days ago 60.7 % of the voters approved Proposition 22 telling him to not "require a community redevelopment agency (A) to pay, remit, loan, or otherwise transfer, directly or indirectly, taxes on advalorem real property and tangible personal property allocated to the agency" nor "(B) to use, restrict, or assign a particular purpose for such taxes for the benefit of the State, any agency of the State, or any jurisdiction."
In his speech, in defense of his proposal to redirect those funds Brown said:
In recent days, a lot has been made of the proposed elimination of redevelopment agencies. Mayors from cities both large and small have come to the Capitol and pressed their case...So maybe it's Governor Moonbeam who's like Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak since they both choose to ignore the voters when it suits them. After all, it's a great leader who knows better than his people when it comes to choosing policy.
They base their case on the claim that redevelopment funds leverage other funds and create jobs. I certainly understand this because I saw redevelopment firsthand as mayor of Oakland. But I also understand that redevelopment funds come directly from local property taxes....
So it is a matter of hard choices, and I come down on the side of those who believe that core functions of government must be funded first.
Of course the Sacramento Bee reported this is the same Brown who said if the tax extensions aren't approved, the alternative is "so horrible that we don't want to release it." Presumably if the measure is placed on the ballot he'll tell us what would happen if the extensions aren't approved? Maybe he doesn't know because those decisions would be up to the Legislature and he has yet to offer them or us a suggested budget without those taxes.