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Prop 31: Can A Two-Year Budget Save California?

Danny Lee |
September 18, 2012 | 2:22 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

(Image courtesy of Dawn Megli)
(Image courtesy of Dawn Megli)
Prop 31 would change California's budget cycle from a one- to two-year period and allocate addition state sales tax revenues to local governments.

State spending measures of more than $25 million by the legislature would require the identification of spending cut and revenue sources to offset the expenditures.

At the same time, however, the governor would be granted greater power to unilaterally trim the state budget during times of fiscal emergency without approval from the Legislature.

Arguments in Favor

Supporters say passing Prop 31 would discourage politicians from spending more money than the state government brings in.

Added transparency would be another reason to vote Yes on Prop 31, supporters say. Passage of this measure would require state government to make the proposed budget available for public review for at least three days before it is put to a vote among lawmakers.

The prop would grant more power to local government by returning up to $200 million for local needs. Prop 31 would also result in more accountability for state government programs by requiring their performance to be publicly reviewed.

What Supporters Are Saying

From the Modesto Bee:

"Legislative leaders have it in their power to reform state government, but they like the secretive, cumbersome process that we have today. They control the system, and fear that will change if state government is reformed.

It's time to go over the heads of legislative leaders and make the reform case directly to California voters.

Proposition 31 will be a big step in improving the fiscal oversight of the state, and allowing the public to actually see what is occurring in the Legislature. Vote "Yes" on Proposition 31 on Nov. 6"

Who's For Prop 31

Cruz Reynoso, California Supreme Court Justice (Retired)

Delaine Easton, Former Superintendent of Public Instruction

The California Republican Party

Arguments Against

Opponents claim that Prop 31 is so poorly written that it would be open to legal challenges and leave key decisions on tax cuts and changes to programs in the hands of unelected bureaucrats. The passage of Prop 31, opponents say, would strip $200 million of funding from vital functions like education and re-allocate that money toward experimental county programs.

Those against Prop 31 also say that allowing the governor power to unilaterally make cuts during a fiscal emergency would put programs such as K-12, public university education and health-care services for low-income households in danger.

What Opponents Are Saying

From the Sacramento Bee:

"This initiative has some good in it, to be sure – such as shifting from a one-year budget to a two-year budget cycle.

Unfortunately, it revives part of a failed initiative in 2005 that would have given the governor unilateral budget-cutting powers if the Legislature doesn't act within 45 days after a governor declares a fiscal emergency. As this page noted in 2005, such a provision provides incentives for the minority party in the Legislature to block action, especially on tax issues that require a two-thirds vote, giving the governor excessive power. This was a bad idea in 2005 and it's still a bad idea in 2012."

Who's Against Prop 31

League of Women Voters

California League of Conservation Voters

California Federation of Teachers

California Labor Federation

The California Democratic Party


Click here for full Proposition coverage.


See the complete California Official Voter Information Guide here. Read more stories from our Politically Correct blog here.

Reach Staff Reporter Danny Lee here; follow him here.



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