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Auditor General

May 15, 1993

Your editorial comment, "Nice Save" (May 5), urges gubernatorial signature of recently passed legislation to re-establish the auditor general's office in the Little Hoover Commission. You praise the "common sense" of the Legislature and its "bipartisan effort" to resuscitate the auditor general, noting that "in these tight-budget times, bird-dogging state spending is more important than ever."

The platitude is disingenuous. You fail to note that, by this action, the Legislature is breaking through the budgetary ceiling imposed on its own operations by the electorate in Prop. 140.

By transferring the auditor general from the legislative budget, incumbents can retain their bevies of political staffs; they can continue to fill the Capitol garage with fancy automobiles; and they can maintain other perquisites that cushion legislative careers. I refer you to your May 7 account of legislative perks (" 'Corrosive Influence of Money' in Sacramento Decried").

The electorate made clear in November of 1990, with Prop. 140, that it wanted the Legislature to cut its budget, to reduce its political staffs, and to slough off the trimmings of a corrupt and corrupting lifestyle. Last November, with Proposition 159, the electorate made clear that it did not want to exempt the auditor general from the Prop. 140 spending limits.

It is, indeed, "common sense" to keep an agency that helps save taxpayer money. But, the public wants to keep the auditor general in the Legislature, where most of the waste of taxpayer money originates. To transfer the office from the legislative budget to the general budget not only adds to public expense but also allows the Legislature to continue spending at a higher rate. And, above all, it flies in the face of the voters' mandate, twice expressed at the polls.

Gov. Pete Wilson, who was elected after endorsing Prop. 140, should remember that what the public wishes on this issue is not in doubt. He should veto a cynical bipartisan effort by careerist incumbents to maintain legislative lifestyles by transferring costs from the legislative budget onto the backs of taxpayers.

PETE SCHABARUM

Los Angeles

Schabarum was the author of the term limits initiatives, Props. 140 and 164, and wrote the ballot argument against Prop. 159.

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