Unions and Democrats dangled a shiny promise in front of voters so that they'd pass Proposition 25. Legislators would not be paid if they didn't pass a budget. Voters took the bait and passed the initiative, the real purpose of which was to lower the requirement to pass a budget from two-thirds to a simple majority. Some weren't fooled.
As opponents of Prop 25 predicted, Democrats passed a sham budget on time to so they could get paid. At least Controller John Chiang and Governor Jerry Brown saw it for what it was and rejected it. Legislators lost some pay before quickly passed another budget that was still bad but not quite as awful.
Proposition 25 was hailed as a success for incentivizing Democrats for finally passing a budget, although the credit probably should go to Chiang who unilaterally decided the original budget was bogus. Without him, Proposition 25 would have been unable to stop Democrats from passing fake budgets on time just so they could get paid.
That's not the worst part of the initiative. By lowering the budget-passing requirement to just a simple majority, Democrats no longer need Republican input on the budget, unless they want to raise taxes. Any other trailer legislation the Democrats wanted to tack onto the budget bill would be A-OK and take effect with the governor's signature. Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee writes:
That legislative loophole, this column and other analysts pointed out, would make it easy to push major pieces of policy legislation through the Capitol with little or no public notice. And that's exactly what has happened.
The last piece of the Democrats' June 28 budget package, placed before legislators only minutes before the vote, revised school finance to benefit the California Teachers Association and make it more difficult for school districts to manage cuts in state school aid.
Who supported Proposition 25? That's right, the California Teachers Association! Walters continues:
Democrats were so proud of their newly minted budget hegemony that they did it again Monday by drafting and quickly pushing through the Assembly another major trailer bill with no hearings and virtually no notice.
This one gathers idle funds from the state's two major university systems into a special pot from which the state could borrow for cash flow purposes.
There was no rational reason for the bill to be done so secretly or hurriedly. Seemingly, Democrats did it just because they could -- thumbing their noses not only at Republicans but also at the larger public.
The voters can be criticized for being fooled by the no-pay provision. But the real villains are those who knew exactly what Proposition 25 would do behind the scenes. Its major supporters included the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the California Faculty Association, the California Federation of Teachers, the California Nurses Association, the League of Women Voters, and the Los Angeles Times.
Who saw through the scam? The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the California Taxpayers' Association, and the Small Business Action Committee, and the Ventura County Star.