Proposition 56 this March proposes to do a handful of things:
- It will make passing budget expenditures, cuts and tax increases easier for legislators. (However, tax cuts would still be passed at the current 51% majority vote).
- Requires 25% of excess tax revenues to be saved up in a reserve fund. Currently there is no requirement. A cap of 5% of prior-year’s general budget will be placed on the reserve requirement.
- Reserve funds can only be spent on state emergencies and whenever there is a shortage in general budget funds.
- Mandates that legislators and Governor to lose money every day the budget is late.
- Requires the Legislature to stay in session until the budget is passed. (I’m surprised that they are not required already.)
- Requires budget summary to be disclosed to the public in state ballot measures
- Prohibits legislators from threatening another legislator for a budget-related vote.
Opponents to this bill argue that legislators will no longer be accountable and make passing tax increases easier. I do not believe that is the case. If a legislator wants to be re-elected, he needs to explain his reasons for any tax increase – especially when this proposition requires all legislators’ voting records on budget matters to be disclosed. So, theoretically tax increases would be easier to pass, but most legislators would refrain if they want to hold their jobs.
Since that is the only thing that is “bad” about the proposition, everything else about the bill is fantastic. Such accountability is long in the waiting.