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Limit costly initiatives? Idea falls short in California Senate

August 22, 2012 |  9:10 am

GetprevState lawmakers often hate it when California voters approve initiatives that add costly mandates to the budget, but a proposal to curb the practice failed to muster sufficient support in the Legislature this week.

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) proposed prohibiting initiative measures that would have a net increase in government costs from being submitted to the voters unless the legislative analyst and state finance director agree the measures also provide new revenue that covers the costs.

DeSaulnier said his proposal would allow the state to avoid "ballot-box budgeting" where an initiative creates a new program to be funded that ties the hands of legislators in crafting a budget.

But the proposed constitutional amendment required a two-thirds vote to be placed on the ballot, and united Republican opposition meant it fell three votes short of the tally needed for passage in the Senate on Tuesday. Republicans, it seems,  do not trust the finance director appointed by a partisan governor to accurately analyze the financial impact of ballot measures.

"We are looking for a non-biased opinion on these initiatives and I’m not clear you're going to get that," said Sen. Ted Gaines (R-Roseville) during the floor debate. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. also opposed the measure as a limit on the ability of voters to reform their government.


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Photo: Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, left,  proposed a measure to control costly initiatives. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press