Editorial: State Budget Process Has Become a Sham
PublicCEO, June 22, 2012California lawmakers continued their cake-walk budgeting last week by approving a budget that was neither on-time or balanced when approved. However, with a process where no one holds the lawmakers truly accountable, sham budgeting can flourish.
A Sacramento Bee editorial highlighted the failures of the most recent budget. Without the trailer bills approved, the budget was a framework with no details. Significant questions remained unanswered, and without the solutions, describing the budget as ‘on time,’ ‘balanced,’ or ‘complete’ was a fallacy. And while Proposition 25 was intended to change that, it was poorly worded an allowed legislators outs – and now the courts have ruled it lets them keep their pay as well.
Furthermore, the closed-door dead-of-night process not only hinders public involvement, it’s designed specifically to limit feedback. By locking out all but the once-notorious ‘Big Five’ – now down to the ‘Big Three’ – the legislature is hoping to control interest groups and lobbyists, and their ability to exert influence on the process. While their involvement could slow things down in the Capitol, they certainly couldn’t make things worse and perhaps a bit more honesty and openness would serve the state well.
From the Sacramento Bee:
California voters, transport yourself back in time to 2010, as you consider the way lawmakers are hiding the ball on this year’s state budget.
That was the year you approved Proposition 25, which allowed lawmakers to pass budgets by a majority vote, instead of a twothirds margin.
The majority vote change was needed and long overdue. But there were other provisions and omissions from Proposition 25 that made it unworthy of passage. It wasn’t coupled with real budget reforms, such as a requirement for true public hearings on final budget bills, or a requirement for a rainy day fund. It also included a gimmick aimed at attracting votes – claims that lawmakers’ pay would be docked if they didn’t pass a budget on time.
Read the full article here.