Brown Busts the Budget

Brown Busts the Budget

The California Legislature just passed a budget. Less than 24 hours later, the governor vetoed it, leaving many scratching their heads why Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a budget from his own party.

“For the first time in history, the state budget has been vetoed,” Brown said in a news conference. “That’s big, and it sends a powerful message that all of us have to do more, we have to rise to a difficult but higher level.” He added, “And I am confident we’re going to get a better budget. Whether I can get the Republicans to vote, that remains to be seen. But I’m certainly going to give them a chance.”

Many speculate that the veto was the plan all along, so legislators wouldn’t miss a paycheck. Or, could be just another one of Brown’s unpredictable decisions. Or, as some are speculating, Brown could be trying to take back control of the political direction in the state after failing to gain the votes necessary to pass his budget proposal. This could have been the plan all along.

With passage of the budget on June 15, legislators did not get their salaries or expenses docked. Even though the budget was full of accounting games, smarmy tricks, column shifts and lies, the sham budget was passed by Democrats with a majority vote, allowed by Proposition 25.

This budget had no reforms, no spending cap, was loaded with illegal tax increases and not balanced. Taxpayer advocates say that much of it was unconstitutional, including the tax hikes now called “fees.”

Conventional wisdom around the capitol has it that the Democrats were left with no good choices. But surely Republicans can no longer be called the party of “No.” Last March, five Republican Senators demonstrated that they were willing to play ball, met with Brown, and tried to come to a bipartisan agreement on the budget.

The GOP Five, as they were dubbed, Tom Berryhill, Bill Emmerson, Anthony Cannella, Tom Harman and Sam Blakeslee, were willing to vote to put Brown’s tax extensions on the ballot for a vote of the people, as long as several reform measures were on the same ballot. But Brown cut off the talks abruptly with the GOP Five in March. Last week the Legislature passed the budget and spending trailer bills, with Brown immediately vetoing the budget the next day.

Where this all goes is anyone’s guess at this point. Legislators have proved that they lack the foresight and maturity to do the job. Brown has much to prove to California voters and at least he got out his blue veto pen. But contrary to the governor, “all of us” don’t have to “do more.”

Taxpayers and the private sector are already bearing the brunt of California’s recession with job and benefit losses, high unemployment, home foreclosures, higher taxes, inflation and the loss of government services. Legislators and the governor need to take a quick lesson in economics and get out the red pens. If they won’t cut wasteful spending where it needs to be cut, they need to step aside and let adults do the job.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.