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Legislature Brings In a Late, Inadequate Budget

August 01, 2003

Re "Painful All-Nighter for Legislators," July 30: I sincerely hope that not a single member of the California Assembly is expecting a shred of sympathy from the California electorate for the extended hours they put in this week to finally pass the overdue budget. Had these efforts taken place in April, May or June of this year, I might have dredged up a modicum of respect for our elected officials. Then there would have been a trace of evidence of some commitment to do their jobs within the constitutionally defined guidelines. I suspect that this marathon session had less to do with their dedication to a job well done and more to do with a desire to begin the summer recess.

Instead, the people of California endured 29 days without a budget, with horrendous results: an unnecessary increase in the state's interest costs; the downgrading of the state's bond status; the untold anxiety and hardship endured by vendors and state employees, who wondered if their livelihoods were at stake; and the resultant "fuel on the fire" that the impasse contributed to the recall movement. Even worse, debt is being rolled over to future years, with no plan in place to restructure the income and expense streams to avoid similar fiascoes.

Emergency situations are not the times to become ideologues. Yet the callow members of our Legislature balked at the opportunity to provide leadership; instead they wasted precious time and resources grandstanding on their political soapboxes.

Sharie Lieberg

Oxnard

*

Forget recalls and term limits. The way to get a state budget passed is to turn off all the air-conditioning systems in government buildings in Sacramento on June 1 each year until the budget is passed. Two weeks of 90-degree temperatures and 90% relative humidity ought to do it.

Byron Edwards

Riverside

*

Re "A Budget Process Built to Fail," July 29: Although California's elites seem focused on relaxing term limits or lowering the two-thirds requirement to pass a budget, there is no evidence that the electorate agrees. What is clear -- from polls and the recall effort -- is that the public holds the governor responsible for the current fiscal mess even though it is the Legislature that enacts a budget. What is needed is a constitutional reform that makes the governor truly responsible. If, at the start of a fiscal year on July 1, the Legislature has not passed a budget, then the governor's final budget proposal, the so-called May revise, should become the default budget.

Such a reform would have three effects. First, there would be a budget in place at all times so that the state could legally pay its bills. Second, the governor's budgetary backbone would stiffen since the need to compromise with the lowest common denominator in the Legislature would be removed. Third, the Legislature would have an incentive to work with the governor and pass an on-time budget because it would otherwise have no influence on the state's basic fiscal policy. With such a system in place, voters could validly hold the governor responsible for budgetary outcomes, as they already do.

Daniel J.B. Mitchell

Professor, Anderson

Graduate School

of Management, UCLA

*

The state Assembly and the governor spent money faster than the growth of the state. If the Assembly members and the governor were in business, they would not have to worry about term limits; they would have been fired. Ideologues? Yes, the Democrats who want to take my money. Thank goodness for the ideologues on the right who want the state to keep its hands off my money. It is the only check we have.

Barry J. Klazura

Long Beach

*

The ineptitude of the California legislators speaks volumes: It is time to void term limits, ASAP. Having experienced legislators is necessary, just as it is in any other important endeavor.

Gary M. Gorlick

Los Angeles

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