If tax extensions make it onto a special election ballot, they will probably have lots of company from reform proposals. At least that’s a scenario that is suggested by a varied cross section of state political observers.
At the beginning of last week, I wrote the governor and legislature put it “all on the ballot,” meaning besides taxes, the voters should decide on spending limits and pension reform.
A few days later, Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton said a way to get taxes on the ballot is to address what Republicans want to see: “Offer a spending cap, regulatory streamlining and relaxation of workplace rules, along with Brown’s deep budget cuts. Toss in more public pension reform.”
On the same day, conservative commentator Andy Caldwell wrote, “I would offer to swap Gov. Jerry Brown five years of temporary tax hikes he is asking for — not because I believe they are necessary but because he and his fellow Democrats are holding all the cards — in exchange for pension reform and five years of serious regulatory relief from the laws….”
Republican Senate Leader Bob Dutton told Skelton he could see no way to support putting taxes on the ballot, “Not until we clean up this mess.”
Is there a framework for a special election deal? It would require budget and regulatory reforms to join the tax increases on the ballot. If negotiations on a budget package don’t materialize, then placing a number of measures on the ballot could move things forward. Then it would be up to the voters.
Not all like the idea of putting it “all on the ballot.” Jon Fleischman at FlashReport reprinted my earlier column with a note that he disagreed.
However, if there is no budget deal and the “all on the ballot” formula doesn’t work this year, it seems sure that an “all on the ballot” attitude could prevail in 2012 … through the initiative process.
Rumors of potential initiatives are circulating on many fronts. Some pushing for more revenue are talking about an oil severance tax initiative, a split roll property tax increase on business, and taxing the rich. Others concerned with spending are talking about paycheck protection for public union members to choose to keep their money out of political action, a spending limit and pension reform.
According to ancient prophecy, 2012 is when the world is supposed to come to an end. At least in California we might be headed to Armageddon. We’ll see if a wide-ranging special election this year might head it off.