Senate leader promises initiative and tax reform with new powers
Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said Wednesday that his party has captured a supermajority of the upper house if current election results stand, and he plans to use the new power to pursue initiative and tax reform to bring in more revenue for schools and social services.
Steinberg noted that the voters approved Proposition 30 and 39, two initiatives to provide more tax revenue. "I certainly don’t intend to suggest to my colleagues that the first thing we do with our new powers is to go out and seek to raise more taxes,’’ he told reporters at the Capitol. "We can begin investing more when the budget is stable and I think the budget now will be stable.’’
"When we talk about revenue it ought to be in the context of tax reform, about broadening the base, about lowering rates, about creating a more competitive environment for business, and potentially bringing in more revenue,’’ he added.
The Senate leader said he would like to "reinvest" in K-12 schools, higher education, health and human services and the courts.
Steinberg said he also would like to see the Legislature use a supermajority to put constitutional amendments on the ballot to limit initiatives in the future. One proposal would require, when an initiative qualifies, for a 60-day cooling off period during which the initiative backers would negotiate with the governor and Legislature on possible changes to the proposal. Another would allow the Legislature to put statutory changes on the ballot with a majority vote. He also would like to see future initiatives that change the law to be subject to a 10- or 15-year sunset date.
"I don’t think we should get rid of the initiative process. I think it serves an important purpose," Steinberg said. "But I think we need to tie it in a much more effective way with the governor and the Legislature, with representative government."
Meanwhile, Republican leaders of the Senate and Assembly said they are ready to work with the new, larger majority.
"We respect that the voters of California have spoken and we congratulate the governor and the Democratic Caucuses," said Senate Republican leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar. "Senate Republicans are committed to working with the governor and our Democratic colleagues in the Legislature to get California back on track. ''
--Patrick McGreevy in SacramentoPhoto: Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press