SACRAMENTO, CA - JANUARY 10: California Governor Jerry Brown speaks to reporters as he announces his proposed budget at the California State Capitol on January 10, 2011 in Sacramento, California. Governor Brown announced a balanced state budget that cuts spending by $12.5 billion and includes an eight to ten percent cut in take home pay for state employees and proposes a "vast and historic" restructuring of government operations. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
That Republicans in California's legislature balk at increasing taxes should be no surprise. That they use their leverage until the state's supermajority rules to make demands is understandable. But GOP lawmakers, for all their criticism of spending, also don't seem want to put their votes up for cut.
That was the dynamic Wednesday as Democrats -- and pretty much only Democrats -- voted for cuts in the budget. Republicans sat on their hands, their strategy being to avoid taking any kind of support for politically difficult cuts. When cuts required a supermajority (and in many cases, certain urgency rules and Democratic manuevering required), a handful of Republicans would provide the votes necessary, but only after Democrats had voted for the politically difficult cuts first.
Republicans have talked often about principle. And their opposition to tax increases may qualify. But their failure to vote for spending cuts--particularly when they won't raise taxes -- is cowardly.
And politically short-sighted. Republicans, if they are ever to win back the trust of a majority of California voters, need to offer alternatives to Democratic proposals. The party would do well to put together a budget proposal that was balanced but didn't include taxes. The public at large would benefit from a debate.