Vote YES on Proposition 25

SIMPLE MAJORITY VOTE FOR BUDGET
Changes Legislative Vote Requirement to Pass Budget and Budget-Related Legislation from Two-Thirds to a Simple Majority. Retains Two-Thirds Vote Requirement for Taxes.
Initiative Constitutional Amendment

League Position | Discussion | Supporters | Opponents | Resources | Sample Letter to Editor | Sample E-mails | Points to Make | Flyers

Note: For a full explanation of the measure and background information on it, including the fiscal effect, refer to the analysis included in the Secretary of State’s Official Voter Information Guide for Proposition 25 and the LWVCEF Pros & Cons and In Depth publications.

LEAGUE POSITION

The LWVC Position in Brief on State and Local Finances supports measures to ensure revenues both sufficient and flexible enough to meet changing needs for state and local government services; that contribute to a system of public finance that emphasizes equity and fair sharing of the tax burden as well as adequacy; and that include long range finance methods that meet current and future needs while taking into account the cumulative impact of public debt.

We support a simple majority vote by the public or the governing body to adopt, repeal or change a revenue or finance measure. To ensure flexible government processes, we support adoption of budgets, appropriations, taxes, other revenue sources and changes in rates and schedules by a simple majority vote of the governing body.

DISCUSSION

Changing the vote for the state budget and related budget legislation from two-thirds to a simple majority without at the same time reducing the vote to raise taxes is admittedly a half-way measure. However, we believe it does make a change in the right direction. Majority rule is a fundamental part of representative democracy, and this at least allows the majority to set priorities for spending and to take responsibility for them.

We expect that this change will also change the negotiations on the budget, which have allowed a small minority to hold out and jeopardize important state services, withhold payments from state and local workers and contractors, and force state borrowing at unfavorable rates of interest. A few legislators have also withheld their votes until they received tax breaks for special interests, funding for pet projects, or support for ballot measures that would not otherwise have been passed by the Legislature. We believe that the ability to control the budget and implementing legislation may keep the focus of budget negotiations on where state revenues should be spent, rather than other issues. With Proposition 25, that will be done on a majority vote with a better chance that it can be done in a timely way.

Only two other states, Arkansas and Rhode Island, require a two-thirds supermajority vote for the state budget.

This measure also provides that if the Legislature fails to pass a budget bill by June 15, all members of the Legislature will permanently forfeit any salary and reimbursements for expenses until they pass a budget bill. We have no position on this issue, but it does seem likely that it would make legislators less likely to simply adopt a waiting game as part of their negotiation strategy.

In an attempt to confuse voters, opponents of Proposition 25 have alleged that it would allow taxes to be imposed or increased with a simple majority vote. The Third District Court of Appeal has dismissed that claim, upholding the official summary of the proposition that includes “Retains two-thirds vote requirement for taxes.” The court stated, “In our view, Proposition 25 cannot be interpreted to operate as an end run around the two-thirds vote requirement for raising taxes.”

SUPPORTERS

Signing the ballot argument for:

  • Martin Hittelman, President, California Federation of Teachers
  • Kathy J. Sackman, RN, President, United Nurses Associations of California/ Union of Health Care Professionals
  • Nan Brasmer, President, California Alliance for Retired Americans

Signing the rebuttal to the opponents’ argument:

  • Janis R. Hirohama, President, League of Women Voters of California
  • Bill Lockyer, California State Treasurer
  • Richard Holober, Executive Director, Consumer Federation of California

Other Supporters:  American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), California Faculty Association, Health Access California, California Professional Firefighters, California School Employees Association (CSEA)

Supporters: Yes on Prop 25, End Budget Gridlock; 916.443.7817 • www.endbudgetgridlock.com

OPPONENTS

Signing the ballot argument against:

  • Jon Coupal, President, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
  • John Kabateck, Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business/California
  • Ruben Guerra, Chairman, Latin Business Association

Signing the rebuttal to the supporters’ argument:

  • Teresa Casazza, President, California Taxpayers’ Association
  • Gabriella Holt, President, Citizens for California Reform
  • Joel Fox, President, Small Business Action Committee

Other Opponents:  California Chamber of Commerce, California Business Roundtable

Opponents: Stop Hidden Taxes, No on 25/Yes on 26; 866.218.4450 • www.no25yes26.com

RESOURCES

Helen Hutchison, Vice President for Advocacy & Program, hhutchison@lwvc.org

Anne Henderson, State and Local Finances Program Director, annehenderson@att.net

Trudy Schafer
LWVC Senior Director for Program
1107 9th Street, Suite 300, Sacramento 95814
916.442.7215
tschafer@lwvc.org

Yes on Prop 25: www.endbudgetgridlock.com

SAMPLE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Note: Please adapt your letter to your own community and check your local paper’s word limit for a published letter.

Editor:

Proposition 25 on the November ballot is long-overdue reform of California’s broken budget process. It breaks budget deadlocks by allowing a simple majority of legislators to approve the budget. Majority rule is fundamental to the effective operation of representative government. It allows the majority to set priorities and holds them responsible for their choices.

Proposition 25 also holds legislators accountable by preventing them from collecting their pay and benefits for every day the budget is late. They are less likely to hold the budget hostage as they try to get spending for pet projects or tax breaks for special interests if each day is costing them lost pay.

Opponents are trying to make you believe that Proposition 25 will also make it possible to raise taxes by a majority vote. But a state court has affirmed the Attorney General’s ballot label and summary that state in plain language that the measure will not change the two-thirds requirement to raise taxes.

Late budgets waste tax money on interest payments and damage California’s credit rating. They leave state workers and those who do business with the state waiting for money they are owed.

Please vote yes on Proposition 25.

Sincerely,

(your name)


Editor:

We’re all frustrated by watching our representatives in Sacramento play politics with the state budget. When the budget is late, teachers get pink slips, police are taken off the street, and small businesses that have contracts with the state risk closing down because they don’t get paid.

That’s why it is important that we pass Proposition 25 on the November ballot.

Prop 25 would allow the legislature to pass the budget with a majority vote. The federal government and 47 other states require a majority vote to pass their budget, and California should not be any different. The way it is now, a small minority of legislators can hold the budget hostage, holding out for special perks, more spending for their pet projects, or tax breaks or favors for special interests. That isn’t right.

The opposition would like you to believe that Prop 25 would allow the Legislature to raise taxes with a majority vote, but this is simply not true. A court has affirmed the simple description you’ll see on your ballot, “Retains two-thirds vote requirement for taxes.”

Vote YES on Prop 25 to help end budget gridlock.

Sincerely,

(your name)

 SAMPLE E-MAIL

Vote YES on Proposition 25, which would change the vote required for the Legislature to pass a budget from the current two-thirds to a simple majority. Majority rule is a fundamental part of democracy.

The majority should set priorities for spending and take responsibility for them. This measure will change the negotiations over the budget and reduce the stranglehold the minority now exercises over the process.

Under Proposition 25, legislators will forfeit salary if they fail to meet the deadline for passing a budget. Budgets that are late and full of gimmicks harm all Californians, damage our economy, and hurt the state’s credit rating.

Vote YES on Proposition 25.

Read more about the League’s recommendation.

POINTS TO MAKE

  • Prop. 25 would change the vote required for the Legislature to pass a budget from the current two-thirds to a simple majority. Majority rule is a fundamental part of democracy.
  • The majority should set priorities for spending and take responsibility for them.
  • Prop. 25 does not change the requirement for a two-thirds vote to increase taxes.
  • This measure will change the negotiations over the budget and reduce the stranglehold the minority now exercises over the process.
  • Under Proposition 25, legislators will forfeit salary if they fail to meet the deadline for passing a budget. Budgets that are late and full of gimmicks harm all Californians, damage our economy, and hurt the state’s credit rating.
  • Some people would like to change the vote requirement for increasing taxes to a majority, as well. We note that this measure is a modest step that can be endorsed by people from a wide range of political viewpoints. It will help build public trust and confidence in government and may lead to further reforms.

FLYER

For a summary of why we support a YES vote on Prop 25, see "The Real Deal" for Budget Reform PDF File.  Click to download Adobe Acrobat Reader. flyer.