The news that Governor Jerry Brown will include a push for a rainy day fund in his budget proposal raises both hope and concerns. You see, there is already a rainy day fund proposal scheduled to appear on the November ballot. Will Brown support a strong rainy day fund measure or a weaker proposal than the proposition already scheduled to face voters?

I’ll wait and see what he says – but color me skeptical.

The governor supporting a strong rainy day fund proposal would be a big boost to the “Yes” campaign. Brown has made a point of shining his fiscal constraint credentials during his current term, and championing a strong rainy day fund would add to his stock on that side of the fiscal scale.

Brown acknowledged the need for spending restraint at a Milken Institute speech I attended a couple of months ago.

However, the proposal already primed for the ballot is a good one and an effort to substitute another ballot measure could prove to be nothing more than a pale image of the current proposal.

Why the skepticism? The scheduled proposition has already been moved to avoid voters’ judgment. The measure, put on the ballot by the legislature as ACA 4, was supposed to be on the June 2012 Presidential Primary Election ballot. Democratic lawmakers who didn’t want the rainy day fund to stymie spending voted to move it one election cycle.

Now there is talk of substituting another measure for ACA 4.

The battle over establishing a solid rainy day fund that can’t be tinkered with easily has been an on-going political tug of war. In 2009, a ballot measure tied a rainy day fund proposal similar to ACA 4 to a two-year temporary tax extension. The measure was defeated.

I supported the 2009 measure and took a lot of heat for it because of the tax piece. However, I would point out if it had passed the rainy day fund would have been in place and working going on five years now. The two-year temporary tax would have expired while probably saving taxpayers from dealing with the much longer temporary tax passed under Proposition 30.

The Sacramento chatter has the governor supporting an effort put forth by Assembly Speaker John Perez last year. Perez wants to put any revenue that exceeds 6.5% of the previous year’s budget into a rainy day fund or to pay down debt. While the outline of Perez’s plan is fine, the 6.5% figure is high. Inflation in California has exceeded 6% only once since 1990 and the current inflation rate runs about 2.5%. That means state spending will increase roughly 4% above inflation. How fast must the economy grow to allow for putting funds aside in a rainy day under such a plan?

We’ll see what kind of rainy day fund the governor embraces on Friday.

UPDATE: It was pointed out to me that ACA 4 has to be re-written because the original dates no longer are relevant and there is an issue with the debt provision. I was not clear enough in saying any replacement measure should be as close as possible to the the ACA 4 formula while taking care of these issues.