Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Weintraub Misleads on Proposition 76

In today's Sacramento Bee (free subscritption required), Daniel Weintraub states the following:

If you think the people you elect to the Legislature and future governors should be allowed more leeway to set school budgets annually in accordance with the revenue that's coming in from taxes, you should probably vote for Proposition 76. If you prefer the status quo - setting school budgets by a strict formula in the state's constitution - you should probably vote against this measure.

What Weintraub fails to mention in his article is that if there is a fiscal crisis in the future, the governor would have the ultimate say in the budget, thus trashing the idea that the legislature has the power of the purse.

The fact that California would have a different concept of the separation of powers than the one that exists in Washington D.C. is neither new nor wrong. The October 2005 issue of the California Bar Journal shows just that in its coverage of Marine Forests Soceity v. California Coastal Commission (2005) 36 Cal.4th 1 where the appointment powers for commissions has been shown to be constitutional in California when it is shared by the governor and the legislature. The question in Proposition 76 is whether or not the power should be shared except when the legsislature and the governor cannot agree on mid-year budget cuts when revenues do not meet expectations. Proposition 76 would allow the governor to ignore the wishes of the duly elected legislature to cut what he (or she) wants. That is a bad idea on its face as it allows for no check on the governor's power.

Proposition 76 needs to be rewritten if it is going to actually be helpful and keep with the traditions that have been shown to work in our great nation and state. The idea of tossing out constitutional mandates so that our elected officials can actually do their jobs is a good one. Allowing a governor to have unchecked financial power in economic downturns is a posion pill that the voters should not swallow.

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