Not everyone agrees. Republican consultant Allan Hoffenblum said the act is clearly aimed at eliminating Republicans from the budget process, offers nothing to get them on board, and has little chance of passing without them.
“I do not see them under any circumstances giving the Democratic majority increased power without some sort of quid pro quo,” Hoffenblum said. He cited spending caps and a new redistricting process, handled by judges instead of the majority party, as good examples.
In fact, Hoffenblum said, redistricting got the state into its mess in the first place by giving members of both parties secure districts, allowing Republicans to lean to the far right and Democrats to the far left. With no moderates in the Legislature, he said, and no real district contests between Democrats and Republicans, there is no impetus for members to reach any budget compromises.
Even before the initiative has qualified for the ballot, it has attracted opposition from the California Chamber of Commerce and a collection of oil and tobacco companies. The largest single donor so far to a group known as Californians Against Higher Taxes is Chevron/Texaco, which has put up $55,000. BP Corporation chipped in another $15,000, while State Farm, Anheuser-Busch, Philip Morris, the California Building Industry Association, the California Farm Bureau Federation and the Personal Insurance Federation of California each came up with $10,000.
Not all Democrats back the measure. Bernard Parks, who chairs the City Council’s budget committee, said it makes sense to require a two-thirds vote on significant financial issues. “I believe if you’re talking about how ever many billions of dollars the state budget is, it’s worthy of 60-plus percent of the people agreeing what direction the state finances should go in,” Parks said.
County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky strongly supports the initiative and says it will reverse the Sacramento gamesmanship that has kept counties from passing their own budgets. But he wonders whether the voters’ anger can be harnessed by amending the budget process — or even by recalling the governor.
“There’s a serious rebellion brewing,” Yaroslavsky said. “There’s something more brewing here than just a $1 million check from Darrell Issa. I have a déjà vu feeling about this. This looks like Proposition 13. There came a point that no matter what you said and who said it, people do not want to hear it anymore. And for people on the East Coast who think it’s just wacky California, I’ve got news for them: This show’s coming to theaters and drive-ins near them.”