The Paycheck Protection Budget

JUNE 17, 2011

The California Legislature just passed a budget. Less than 24 hours later, the governor vetoed it, leaving many political wonks scratching their heads in wonderment at why Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a budget from his own party.

Could this have been the plan all along, so that legislators wouldn’t miss a paycheck?

It could be that it’s just another one of Brown’s seemingly random and unpredictable decisions.

Or, as some are speculating, Brown could be trying to take back control of the political direction in the state after failing to gain the votes necessary to pass his budget proposal.

Or more likely, this was the diabolical plan all along.

At a news conference Thursday after his budget veto, Brown said, “For the first time in history, the state budget has been vetoed. That’s big, and it sends a powerful message that all of us have to do more, we have to rise to a difficult but higher level.”

He added, “And I am confident we’re going to get a better budget. Whether I can get the Republicans to vote, that remains to be seen. But I’m certainly going to give them a chance.”


With passage of the budget on June 15, legislators did not get their salaries or expenses docked. Even though the budget was full of accounting games, smarmy tricks, column shifts and lies, the sham budget was passed by Democrats with a majority vote.

“Democrats did not act in bad faith. They had little choice but to approve the budget, given that voters passed Proposition 25 in November allowing the Legislature to approve budgets by a simple majority, rather than the old two-thirds vote,” said the Sacramento Bee editorial board.

But this budget had no reforms, no spending cap, was loaded up with illegal tax increases and was not balanced. And taxpayer advocates say that much of it was unconstitutional, including the tax hikes called “fees.”

But the Bee said, “Democrats were left with no good choices.”

Boo hoo. Democrats are hardly victims in this state. Democrats wanted Prop 25. They wrote it, funded it, and pushed it hard. And it passed by a vote of the people. Now they have to live with it.

Only their budget was an end-run around Prop 25. It wasn’t even that clever. It may cost Democrats in the near future.


Republicans can no longer be called “the party of ‘No’.” Last March, five Republican Senators demonstrated that they were willing to play ball, met with Brown and tried to come to a bipartisan agreement on the budget. The GOP Five, as they were dubbed, were Tom Berryhill, Bill Emmerson, Anthony Cannella, Tom Harman and Sam Blakeslee. They even were willing to vote to put Brown’s tax extensions on the ballot for a vote of the people, as long as several reform measures were on the same ballot.

But Brown cut off the talks abruptly with the GOP Five in March.

This week, the Legislature passed the budget and spending trailer bills, with Brown immediately vetoing the budget the next day.

Critics are saying that Democrats knowingly passed an unconstitutional budget for self enrichment — to keep their paychecks. One Bee reader asked why this is not considered fraud?

Clueless on Business

Former Republican Sen. George Runner, now a Board of Equalization member, said that the arguments between Democrats and Republicans will continue because Democrats and liberals are unfamiliar with how businesses operate, how jobs are created and how an economy is stimulated through private sector job creation.

“The role of government is not to create jobs — the government is supposed to get out of the way and let business create jobs,” said Runner.

Runner said that this latest budget scam is meaningless and thoughtless, and an indicator of a paycheck motive instead of what’s good for the people of the state.

It is apparent that the message among Democrats was, “Go ahead and sign this budget. The governor won’t sign it, so it doesn’t matter.”

Runner said that he met with eBay and Amazon this week and both companies told him that the online sales tax will cost them jobs — or they can pull out of California.

Runner said that Microsoft wants to expand on the West Coast, but California is too risky because legislators continue to push anti-business and tax proposals. Higher taxes cost employers jobs because taxes come right out of the employer’s pocket. Just because a new tax is imposed doesn’t mean that the business owner can pass the cost along to the customer. That’s what Democrats do not understand. Businesses eat higher costs, and end up doing it by cutting jobs, pay and benefits just to keep a business open.

“It’s going to get ugly,” said Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly. “Democrats will end up blowing a big hole in the California economy if they continue on this road.”

Donnelly said that he recently told his Assembly colleagues, “Your policies wiped out 650,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector.”  Despite that, he added, “They continue to push bills requiring fitted or folded sheets. It’s a disaster.”

But not all is lost. Donnelly said, “If Democrats and Republicans come together” — and he thinks there are enough reasonable legislators to do this — “and agree on no taxes anywhere in the budget, we can get people back to work, which needs to be the core focus and centerpiece of the budget.”

Subsidized Green Jobs

Donnelly said that it costs $800,000 to create one green job in California because politicians have decided to prop up green jobs artificially. “It’s costing the state huge amounts of money that we don’t have,” he said.

The only Democrat to vote “no” on the budget was Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco. And he abstained from voting on most of the budget trailer bills last week because of the cuts made to schools and critical social services, his office reported.

“I voted against the main budget bill because my constituents didn’t send me to Sacramento to increase class sizes, layoff teachers, and hurt public education,” Yee said in a statement.

His vote against the elimination of redevelopment agencies was solely about cuts to schools, his office said. In San Francisco, schools receive $35 million a year from fees on redevelopment projects, which would be lost if redevelopment is eliminated.

Senators Berryhill, Cannella, Emmerson and Harman’s statement in response to the budget vote was interesting: “Today’s actions prove that the bridge tax isn’t a stumbling block — it’s political theater.  The real stumbling block for the Majority Party are the unions and trial lawyers demanding they block the reform proposals we have been pushing for months.”

Democratic Budget Demands

Where this budget goes is anyone’s best guess at this point. Brown has much to prove to California voters, but at least has started by getting out his blue veto pen.

Democratic legislators, however, have demonstrated that they do not have the foresight, maturity or vision to do the job, or even the selfless ability to represent the constituents in their districts.

Democrats have become the tools of the public employee unions and trial lawyers, and California voters witnessed it this week with the passage of the sham budget — even if some of our newspapers didn’t see it.

All of us don’t “have to do more.” Taxpayers and the private sector are already bearing the brunt of California’s recession with job and benefit losses, high unemployment, home foreclosures, higher taxes, inflation and the loss of government services.

This Legislature and governor need to take a quick lesson in economics and get out the red pens. If they can’t or won’t cut wasteful spending where it needs to be cut, they need to step aside and let adults do the job.

— Katy Grimes


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