Proposition 56, the Budget Accountability Act, aims to amend the state constitution by lowering the amount of votes the legislature needs to pass a budget and related tax bills.
The proposition’s main actions include the reduction of the current two-thirds majority vote to a 55 percent vote to pass budget-related measures in the state legislature, and requires that members of the legislature and the governor lose part of their salary for each day the budget is late. It would also require the legislature to stay in session until the budget is passed and to put into reserve at least 25 percent of any excess revenue in the General Fund.
Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) said she believes the budget should reflect the values of the majority of voters in California and that Proposition 56 will be able to accomplish this.
“By allowing the legislature to pass the budget with a simple majority, they would be able to look at issues from the perspective of California values, rather than having to battle around ideological [problems],” she said.
Jackson said the measure would bring California in line with the 47 other states that require a 55 percent majority and would enable the legislature to vote for the public rather than for their own self-interest.
“It will give the necessary incentives for lawmakers to get a balanced budget on time,” she said.
Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Taxpayers’ Association Joe Armendariz said he opposes the proposition because it would almost certainly allow the Democratic Party to raise taxes and set the terms on budget processing and voting in the legislature without the consent of the Republican Party.
“The measure makes it too easy for the state legislature to increase our taxes,” he said.
Armendariz compared the proposal to a blank check that would allow the Legislature to raise taxes and spend as much money as they want. The main problem is that voters are not able to pick and choose which parts of the proposal they do and don’t like, he said.
“It’s probably the most misleading proposition they’ve put on the ballot in a long time,” Armendariz said. “The proposition would only take a bad situation and make it worse by giving [the Legislature] our money rather than having them use the money that they already have more efficiently.”
University of California Student Association Board Chair Matt Kaczmarek said the organization supports Proposition 56 because it would be beneficial to the University of California, as well as to the students in general. He said it offers a solution to the gridlock that prevents the state from passing a budget on time.
“Only a few states still have a two-thirds majority needed to pass the budget, and it’s time California deals with this lingering problem, which is an issue not just to students,” he said. “[It is equally] important that Prop 56 would withhold legislative pay and force them to stay in session until the budget is passed, an incentive which currently only applies to the legislative staff, not the legislators themselves.”