California voters may get a chance to scuttle budget supermajorities
February 19, 2009
• Two budget-related initiatives enter circulation
• Would drop budget requirement to 55 percent
California voters, who tell pollsters they’re fed up with the annual budget stalemates attributed to a Constitutional requirement for a two-thirds supermajority, may get a chance to do away with it.
California, Rhode Island and Arkansas are the only states requiring the lopsided majority for a state budget to be approved.
Now a citizen’s initiative to do away with the requirement has been cleared by Secretary of State Debra Bowen to begin collecting signatures to quality for the ballot.
If approved by voters and if it survives lawsuits, one of the two similar initiatives would lower the legislative vote requirement necessary to pass the state budget, and spending bills related to the budget, from 67 percent (two-thirds) to 55 percent.
A second measure was also given the go-ahead to collect signatures.
Again, if approved by voters and if it were to survive lawsuits, it would lower the legislative vote requirement necessary to pass the state budget.
But it goes further, to spending bills related to the budget, and budget-related tax increases, lowering the majority needed for approval from 67 percent (two-thirds) to 55 percent.
It retains the 67 percent (two-thirds) vote requirement for property tax increases.
The proponent for these measures, Maurice Read, must collect signatures of 694,354 registered voters – the number equal to 8 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2006 gubernatorial election – for each measure in order to qualify it for the ballot.
Mr. Read has 150 days to circulate petitions for each of these measures, meaning the signatures must be collected by July 20.
He could not be reached Wednesday night for comment.