Sunday, April 26, 2009


Comment on a Letter to the Editor

The following letter was printed on the editorial page of the Los Angeles Times for Saturday, April 25, 2009:

The voters have recently "combined to straitjacket the state's budgetary process"? How ludicrous!

Both Proposition 10 and Proposition 63 mandated not only spending but taxes to pay for them -- and them only. These two initiatives took nothing from the general fund. That is hardly spending like a drunken sailor, nor is it irresponsible.

If legislators on both sides of the aisle were as responsible as the electorate, we'd probably be in far better fiscal shape than we are.

The electorate did nothing to straitjacket the Legislature. Lawmakers are just jealous and envious of funds they cannot access. We'd be fools to let them strip the funds out of these programs to fund other programs.

My first reaction to this letter was that the writer was either misinformed or uninformed. The voters placed a straitjacket around the Legislature years ago when they imposed a 2/3 vote requirement for passage of the budget and for increasing taxes. It is this requirement, the hard economic times we now experience, and the stubbornness of a certain faction among the Legislators that has forced the Legislature to agree on a funding plan with the various take-aways that the writer decries. Agreement requires 2/3, not a majority. Other more reasonable budget and funding plans were not acceptable to the stubborn ideological minority, a group that contains more than 1/3 of the legislators in each chamber.

My next reaction was that the writer was concerned only about the diversion of funds from the programs established by Propositions 10 and 63. The writer lives in an affluent region. He has the education, the spare time, and the means to write a letter to the editor. He does not depend on any of the state programs for the poor, the disabled, the homeless, etc. He no longer depends on state support for education or he would be less critical of some of the decisions of the Legislature.

Rather than simply condemn the members of the Legislature as jealous and envious, I'd rather that the writer take up the cause of getting rid of the 2/3 vote requirement to allow the Legislature to adopt a reasonable, non-ideological budget that does not take funds away from mandated, self-funding programs.

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