Proposition 25, which goes before the voters on election day (Nov. 2nd), would cancel the supermajority requirement for passing the state budget out of the legislature and replace it with a simple majority rule. Thus, 21 State Senate votes needed, rather than 27 - and 41 Assembly votes rather than 54.
Community clinics serving Medi-Cal patients are in full support.
We're sadly used to the inertia that curls like thick clouds of cigar smoke around the Capitol every summer, delaying passage of the budget for weeks and even months beyond the start of the fiscal year (nevermind the June 15 constitutionally-mandated deadline).
We watch the special fund set up for Medi-Cal contractors run dry, and then we brace for the payment delays (which shuttered several smaller community clinics this past year).
So it's attractive, this Prop 25. It would pull loose one of the biggest stops to efficient government.
Of course, not all the stops. It would leave in place, for example, the 2/3 supermajority requirement for passing new taxes. Meaning the legislature could, in a Prop 25 world, pass budgets more easily, but only if that budget didn't send taxes up.
Given that the tax-versus-cuts conversation (debate, struggle, partisan death match) is generally what holds up our state budgets past their due dates, we endorse Prop. 25 in the hope and expectation that it's just one step toward more comprehensive political reform in Sacramento - reform that would enable budgets balanced like the scales of justice rather than the seesaws of misplaced values.
In acknowledging that Prop 25 is good medicine but not a panacea, we're echoing the ballot analysis prepared by the California Budget Project, which adopts a sort of shrugging tone and essentially boils down to, "This proposition would really change things in years when there's lots of money to spend and the legislature can't agree how to spend it."
We did some checking, and the last time having too much money was a problem for the state was 1849, which is technically one year before California was a state, and also the same year gold was discovered in the Sierra Nevadas.
So we're saying, vote for Prop 25. It promises to break part of the governance logjam that threatens the solvency of community clinics every year.
We're also saying, if Prop 25 passes, don't think that the long push for political reform in Sacramento is over. As Churchill said, it's not the beginning of the end; but it may be the end of the beginning.