CA Forward's insomnia cure

MAY 11, 2010


In a hearing yesterday that could have helped anyone with an insomnia problem, California Forward, the budget reform group proposing a simple majority vote by the Legislature instead of the two-thirds currently required, presented author’s amendments in the Assembly Budget Committee.

It was all “lawyering” on May 10 as the agenda contained many tedious changes to the proposed California Forward bills ACA4 and AB2591, both authored by Assembly member Mike Feurer, D-Los Angeles, also a lawyer.

With 21 amendments to ACA4 and seven amendments to AB2591, most proposed changes were merely grammatical and tense changes: “On page 8, line 1, strike out “his or her” and insert: an.”

Legislators had several questions for Feurer, with Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda, demonstrating again that his definition of raising revenue for the state is to increase taxes and fees. “Why wouldn’t we make it a simple majority to raise taxes too?” asked Swanson, referencing the California Forward attempt to lower the two-thirds requirement for the budget.

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, asked for more time to review the budget and called for a “more reasonable deadline” than May 15 to review the budget as well as the trailer bills, before voting. The bill must be passed by June 25 before legislators risk losing pay for not passing the budget on time.

Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, R-Dana Point challenged her colleagues to reconsider California’s continuing taxation, and told Feurer that she wants another avenue considered in the California Forward proposal. “I would hope that we’ll get into what tax policy does to our state, rather than just looking at what’s left, at what bones are left to pick,” said Harkey. She pointed out that since 1998, the state has doubled its expenses. Harkey expressed her concern that trailer bills become the de facto budget, and agreed with colleague Buchanan on the need for additional time to thoroughly review the proposed budget.

While Harkey and Buchanan were the highlight of the hearing with their budget-hawk analyses of the bills, Swanson repeatedly referenced the need for more education funding. Perhaps Swanson doesn’t think that the 40 percent of the entire state budget already designated for education is enough.

Public comments were made by Jay Hansen, California Building Trades Council, and former legislative staffer, now representing the building, laborers and plumbers unions, and “hoping to be working with the California Labor Federation.”  Hansen said that the California Forward package “should not be used to make cuts.”

Sara Flocks representing the California Labor Federation expressed her concern with the California Forward proposals saying it was a “good start,” but they still oppose the package.  Their concern is with the “Pay-go” aspect, and the “majority vote on revenues.”

In closing remarks, Feurer said that the California Forward proposals have “huge bipartisan support” and the need for compromise is paramount if California is ever to move beyond the ongoing budget struggles.

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