California Common Cause Calls For Major Budget Reforms

Media Contact:

February 26, 2009

Vincent Jones, (213) 252-4552

California Common Cause calls for Major Budget Reforms

In the wake of the California budget coming in a record 250 days after the constitutionally mandated June 15th deadline, California Common Cause is calling for an examination of the budget process. The current vote requirement to pass a budget is now set at 2/3 of both houses of the legislature, higher than most other states. Further, unlike many other states, California sets its budget year by year, with no formal long term planning or safety nets.

Here are the undisputed facts:. The budget has come in late in 18 of the past 22 years;

. Late budgets result in delays in the completion of infrastructure projects which, in turn, waste taxpayers’ money;

. The 2/3 vote requirement has allowed a few legislators to make significant demands in exchange for their votes;

. The gridlock in the state legislature over the budget has worsened voters’ trust in government.

Vice Chair of California Common Cause’s board, Roy Ulrich, noted that: “In the most recent budget fiasco, one Orange County legislator was able to secure an extra $70 million in new property tax revenue for Orange County for two years and $50 million a year after that in exchange for his vote. And he’s a Democrat.”

Kathay Feng, California Common Cause’s executive director, summed it this way: “The current budget process promotes gridlock and creates the opportunity for special interest tax breaks. The result is that neither party is held accountable for bad results nor praised for good results.”

Feng stated: “California Common Cause has supported lowering the 2/3 budget vote requirement in the past. Nothing is off the table at this point – reform by legislation, initiative or constitutional convention – California needs major surgery.”

California Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to restoring an open, honest, and accountable government, also working to strengthen public participation and ensuring that political processes serve the public interest, rather than the special interests.