Last Call for Four Republicans

Posted on 13 June 2011

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By Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield

Ever since Governor Jerry Brown unveiled his responsible approach to solving the state’s budget deficit back in January, my Democratic colleagues and I have given Republican legislators in the Assembly and Senate opportunity after opportunity to step up and be part of a bipartisan solution.

With the constitutional deadline for passing the budget coming up on Wednesday, time is officially running out for Republicans to do the right thing.

Back in March we offered the Republican legislators the chance to join us in making tough but necessary cuts and reducing the deficit by approximately $14 billion. Most Republican legislators refused to vote for those cuts, even though they vociferously support the concept of cuts.

We offered Republican legislators the opportunity to support Governor Brown’s reasonable commitment that voters be given a say on extending some taxes to balance the difficult cuts that have already been made.  Republican legislators refused to allow that most basic tool of democracy to move forward—even when given the go ahead by the extremist  shock jocks they seem to listen to far more than they do their constituents.

Following the Governor’s May budget revision, Republican legislators were given yet another opportunity to get on board with a balanced approach, as the Assembly and Senate Budget Committees worked to put together our final budget proposals.  Again Republican legislators repeatedly said no, laughably circulating instead a fantasy “plan” in which the revenues they said would fill an $11 billion hole didn’t even come close.  It was a plan that would have resulted in huge deficits and borrowing.

Even though an uptick in revenues means our budget problem is less severe, we still need to extend some tax revenues to balance the budget and address our structural deficit.  But four Republicans – out of 43 – still need to step up and join Democrats if the balanced approach is to be approved.

Along with legislative Democrats, business leaders throughout the state support the Governor’s balanced approach. Law enforcement leaders throughout the state support the Governor’s approach. Educators throughout the state support the Governor’s balanced approach because it will prevent billions more in cuts to public schools. But still no realistic action from legislative Republicans.

The Assembly and Senate Budget Committees have just finalized a unified proposal for solving the budget deficit. Our proposal sticks to the blueprint the Governor provided in his May budget revision, with only slight differences regarding which areas of the state’s debt to pay down first, with the legislative proposal emphasizing paying back our schools.

This proposal solves the remaining $9.6 billion budget problem, and includes a $1 billion reserve. The proposal could also be amended to include agreements on a spending cap and pension changes as part of an overall package to be approved by voters at a future election.  That is IF Republican legislators were to sign on to exactly the kind of deal they’ve been saying they wanted all along.

If their consciences can’t compel our legislative Republican legislators to join in backing the balanced approach to solving the deficit, maybe the calendar can. Californians have made it clear repeatedly they want legislators to do our jobs and pass an on time budget.  Proposition 25 emphasized that belief last November.

So with June 15th almost upon us, now is the last chance Republican legislators will have to engage their backbones and support a balanced approach to the budget.

Democrats’ goal from Day One has been an on time budget that solves the problem and makes investments in jobs, schools and safety that will allow California to recover from the recession and thrive in the future.  And we continue to believe the best approach is the responsible balance of cuts and tax extensions put forward by the Governor.

While this weekend’s performance by Senate Republican legislators – more hyperpartisan rhetoric and political obstructionism – doesn’t inspire much hope, we do still have a handful of days left to come to a bipartisan agreement.  

Last year, Republican legislators’ intransigence held up the budget until October.  Thanks to the wisdom of the voters in passing Proposition 25 that won’t happen again this year.  It’s deadline time and the parade is getting ready to start. It’s time for Republican legislators to lead, follow or get out of the way.


Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield is chair of the Assembly Budget Committee.

Unfortunately Mr. Blumenfield’s solution to solving the state’s deficit problem is to raise taxes, which the G.O.P. wants no part of. While democratic leaders fail to make crucial cuts to public sector employee benefits, law enforcement, and medi-cal costs, senate republicans are accused of stalling the process. Why it is when there is a financial crisis, our lawmakers insist that the working class bail them out? Isn't it time to tighten your belt Mr. Blumenfeild? Or are you afraid to make concessions that your constituency may not like?

Mr. Schurr is entitled to his opinion -- as I am to mine: I want no cuts in law enforcement or education. I want safe streets and good schools.

Schurr disagrees. That's fine: We have a mechanism for resolving these disagreements... Democracy.

To be clear: The GOP doesn't have to vote to raise taxes. But they're very far in the wrong if they refuse to let the people vote on what they want. We have lots of propositions in this state because we've made our laws reflect the high value we place on direct democracy. The People makes laws here.

In fact, The People are the sources of all political authority -- not the GOP or Democratic Party. Voting -- direct democracy -- is the pure expression of that authority, wielded by citizens at the ballot box. Schurr votes one way, and I vote another... but neither of our party loyalties should be allowed to choke down democracy.

Get your Party politics out of the way, Mr. Schurr. The People rule California... not the GOP.