Good and Bad Budget Reforms on the Ballot

With everyone’s focus turned to last minute bills trying to make their way off the legislature floor before the end of the August, certain issues on this November’s ballot have not garnered the attention they deserve and need. Both Propositions 25 and 26 circulate around the controversial 2/3s vote requirements to pass the state budget or increase revenues, but in very different ways.  And both directly affect our ability to protect our environment and the health of all Californians.

The Planning and Conservation League is in support of Prop 25 – the Majority Budget Initiative and is opposing Prop 26 – the Polluter Protection Initiative.

The goal of Proposition 25 is to prevent future budget gridlock, similar to what our state is currently facing with one of the latest budgets in our history, and to hold legislators accountable for their actions, or rather, inactions if a budget is not passed.  If the Legislature fails to pass a budget bill by June 15th, which it has failed to do for the last 23 years, all members of the legislature will be barred from receiving compensation from income and benefits for everyday that the budget is late.  This seemingly impossible task is made a bit simpler by the second reform outlined under Prop 25- changing the required 2/3rds votes to pass a budget to only a simple majority. 

With 47 other states in our country passing their budget by a simple majority vote, it is time California get on board and end the mess caused when small minority in the legislature can hold the entire budget up. Our current budget gridlock has put our state parks in peril, reduced funding for key restoration programs and has made it nearly impossible to ensure polluters pay their share to clean up the pollution they cause.

Everything Prop. 25 aims to be Prop. 26 is not.  This deceptive initiative is almost completely funded by major polluter’s like Chevron and ExxonMobil as well cigarette manufacturer Phillip Morris.  Prop 26 lets polluters off the hook by calling the fees they pay to clean up their pollution or “taxes,” requiring a 2/3rds vote by the legislature or voters to implement them, making such payments much harder to enact and leaving taxpayers to foot the bill.

Proposition 26 will only further cripple our state’s budget mess, making it harder to collect revenue owed to the state and regional jurisdictions, as well as putting at risk the implementation of regulatory fees to pay for such things like oil spill clean-up, air and water pollution, the health impacts of cigarettes and pesticides and much more.  We don’t need corrupt companies taking over our legislative process.

For the reasons listed above, we are supporting Proposition 25 and opposing Proposition 26.