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Budget figuring

August 25, 2008

Re "Come back, GOP," editorial, Aug. 20

Your editorial was off the mark on changing the two-thirds requirement for approving the budget, arguing that "Democrats [would have] sole power to dictate budgets ... and even fiscally responsible Republicans wouldn't be able to do anything about it."

Ignoring the implication that Democrats aren't being fiscally responsible when they speak of raising taxes, that statement misses the point. If Californians didn't want Democrats to write the budget, they'd stop electing them.

The two-thirds rule encourages precisely the kind of obstructionism that blocks budgetary debate. Legislative Republicans have no reason to engage Democrats in a discussion on raising taxes because they can hold the process hostage and then blame the majority for a disastrous government shutdown.

Rather than waxing romantic about days past, The Times should be calling for serious reform of the budget process -- and the constitutional convention to achieve it.

Michael Sall

Los Angeles

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An unstated premise lurks behind your appeal for Republican willingness to increase taxes; it is that we must either increase taxes or run a fiscally irresponsible budget.

There is an option you do not consider: cutting state spending. By reducing state spending back to 2003 levels, we Californians could create a responsible, tax-neutral budget.

As president, Ronald Reagan cut non-defense federal spending. Thus, I find your thesis disingenuous. California Republicans must face the budget crisis, and they must make hard choices in calling for cuts. But they need not approve tax hikes -- they need not accept your false dichotomy.

C. Alexander Evans

San Diego

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Californians are the laughingstock of the nation in a lot of ways, mainly because of the ultra-liberal mind-set of the state's Democratic leaders. We elect a governor to set us straight, and then we castrate him. We ridicule ultra-conservative Republicans such as Tom McClintock when they argue for not increasing taxes or for cutting back or cutting off funds for various budget items. And then The Times chimes in, crying out for some good ol' Republican responsibility.

Why don't the Democrats step up to the plate and start suggesting responsible budget ideas? The Republicans have become the whipping boy of California, and this should stop immediately. This should be a bipartisan relationship in which both sides take a look at their part in California's budget mess and make some sacrifices.

I read that people, in general, are getting further and further in personal debt, living outside their means. That tells me something about how our leaders are elected. Grow up, take responsibility and stop looking to the Republican Party to play parent.

Debbie Clark

Burbank

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Re "Sales tax hike push riles GOP," Aug. 20

The GOP's preference for borrowing over a temporary sales tax hike illustrates its desire to burden future Californians with a debt that will be difficult to meet.

No one is mentioning the predictions for California: drought, higher temperatures, more fires, crop failures, more people, higher health costs because of pollution and so on. We need to hear about these things in an overall context, not as separate issues. It is irresponsible of our representatives to function as if they have no responsibility to future generations' well-being.

Saran Kirschbaum

Los Angeles

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