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Ballot Offers Two Fixes For California Budget

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California State Capitol in Sacramento (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

California State Capitol in Sacramento (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – Would allowing legislators to enact a state budget without a two-thirds majority solve California’s budget problems? And should it be more difficult for lawmakers to impose new fees?

The supermajority mandate underlies the two measures on the November 2 ballot that tackle the state’s chronic budget gridlock.

Proposition 25 would make simple majorities in the Assembly and Senate enough for a spending plan to take effect. Only two other states, Arkansas and Rhode Island, require a supermajority for their budgets.

Backers of Prop. 25 say the budget is so late because a few lawmakers can hold the entire spending plan hostage for months, costing the state millions of dollars.

“It doesn’t make a better budget. It makes a much worse budget, a less planned budget and couple legislators just hold their breath ‘til they get what they want. Then they vote, and it passes,” said Marty Hittelman, president of the California Federation of Teachers.

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

Raising taxes would still require a two-thirds majority. And Proposition 26 would extend that principal to a favorite source of revenue in recent years, fees.

Backers of Prop. 26 say limiting the supermajority mandate doesn’t tackle the underlying problem with Sacramento.

“We need responsible government. We need responsible budgets. We need them to be balanced, and just making it easier to pass irresponsible budgets isn’t a solution to California’s budget crisis,” said Allan Zaremberg, president of the California Chamber of Commerce.

Forcing greater consensus to generate new revenue would force the legislature to control how much California spends, he said, “doing just what a household does—bringing your spending and your revenues into balance.”

Prop 26 is opposed by the League of Women Voters, environmental groups and many of the same unions who support Prop 25, which they see is a critical first step to reforming the state Capitol.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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