| Every year when the budget comes around, there is always some sort of "hostage" that the GOP gets together and decide that's they want to take out. In previous years it was things like workplace safety regulations, lunchtime regulations, and on and on. You name a piece of progressive legislation, and there has been an attempt on its life during the budget season.
Well, on the plus side, we'll be seeing fewer of those under the new Prop 25 simple majority vote on the budget. But, as you likely know, we didn't get the whole enchilada with Prop 25. So, if we are going to go the easy route on getting taxes on the ballot, that is to say getting 2/3 vote to place them on the ballot, then we are once again open to the annual hostage situation.
Now, this year, it seems that the wizards of the GOP caucus(es) have once again focused on pension reform. A reasonable subject to discuss. After all, we have an enormous outstanding pension obligation, much of which is underfunded. But, a cordial conversation, some committee hearings and the like isn't how Mimi Walters wants to roll. Oh no, it's going to happen by the middle of March or there will be no GOP votes for putting revenue on the ballot:
Sen. Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Hills, is preparing a package of pension reform bills she said must be addressed before taking up taxes. Among her reforms is legislation requiring all new state employees to enter 401(k)-style benefit plans.
"We want reforms in place before there's any discussion about tax increases," said Walters, the GOP's nominee in the fall for state treasurer who was trounced by incumbent Bill Lockyer. "I do know there's not support at all to even put it on the ballot without significant pension reforms." (MediaNews/Steve Harmon)
Now, you see the framing there? That's classic move the goalposts framing. If you are a Democratic leader at this point, your ears should be perked up, just waiting for the next demand. See, there's no support for placing the measure on the ballot sans pension reforms. And after you get your way? What then? Notice that she's hardly promising any votes. Of course, she would then cross into the murky waters of vote trading, but you know, that's how the GOP rolls.
Of course, as Dan Walters pointed out a while back, there are ways to put these measures on the ballot sans GOP support. There is certainly a lot of inherent risk in that approach, both politically and policy-wise, but the Democratic legislators will have to make up their minds on which odds they'll take.
UPDATE: One more thing that I wanted to mention. Before the Right pours on about the pension system, let's look at one critical fact. The average annual pension for a state worker is $30,000. While it isn't a pittance, we can't simply portray all state workers as hogs on the system and end the conversation there. We need to ensure a stable future for all Californians, and part of that includes retired state workers.