Democrats in the Legislature are howling mad after learning Controller John Chiang has rejected their haphazard budget and will dock their pay as required by Proposition 25 for failing to perform their duty to produce a balanced budget by the constitutional deadline.
Some lawmakers are claiming the controller’s action is an infringement on their rights. Others are pleading poverty that they will be unable to adequately support their families if they miss a paycheck. One Senator Noreen Evens was scandalized that legislators were being treated like volunteers proving that at least in her case public service is not a calling but a job. As usual with most of these politicians it’s all about “them.”
Sadly most Californians do not have the luxury of spending time contemplating the irony that the law which now punishes lawmakers was backed by Democrats as a way to dominate the budget process and exclude the Republican minority. That Senate President Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez are hoist on their own petard — damaged by a weapon of their own creation — brings no joy to those who depend on an on-time budget.
Yet if the Democrats would stop their orgy of wailing chest pounding and finger pointing they would hear and see the trumpeting elephant in the room the solution to this year’s budget problem that they have gone to great pains to ignore.
Back in May Republicans released a no gimmicks balanced no tax increase budget. Although it can be described as an austerity budget as befits these tough economic times it protects K-12 schools and higher education — no cuts to these valued programs. And it actually provides a prudent reserve of as much as $800 million.
It’s a no brainer. It pencils out — unlike the rejected Democrat budget that did not pass the laugh test — it protects the state’s most popular programs and its passage would even allow lawmakers to receive their pay.
However there is a problem for Democrats because it reduces by 10 percent the amount spent on the highest paid government employees in all 50 states. The public employee union bosses to whom many lawmakers owe their election will never accept a budget that includes furloughs or a reduction in the number of job positions.
But perhaps most revealing of the attitude of the Democrat majority is what Noreen Evens said two years ago during a similar budget crisis: “‘Live within our means’ is meaningless.” Californians get it that Evens and most of her colleagues aren’t clear on the concept of living within one’s means and that that is why the Sacramento politicians continue to hand taxpayers the short end of the stick.
Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.