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)
The theory of requiring a two-thirds vote for tax increases, fees, and other pieces of the budget is to restrain spending and taxes -- and keep budget deficits under control.
But the list of 53 demands by Republican legislators in budget talks puts the lie to that theory. Requiring a supermajority adds to the budget deficit -- because there are more votes to buy.
The Brown administration has noted that many of the GOP demands have nothing to do with the budget. But the real problem is that while some changes (on pensions) could save money long term, many of the budget demands don't fix the deficit -- they add to the problem.
-A "compromise" on Brown's plan for eliminating redevelopment agencies that would mitigate much of the savings from Brown's plan,
-A demand to preserve state enterprise zones, which are costly and ineffective;
-A demand that Brown drop a corporate tax change that would save the state $1.4 billion. The Republican document calls it a tax increase.
The Republicans also demand that Brown's tax extensions, proposed for 5 years, be shorted to just 18 months. That could add to the budget deficit in two ways -- by denying revenue, and by giving Republicans another chance to make more costly demands as the price of budget and tax negotiations next year.
Brown's budget is far from perfect -- it ignores the governing and structural problems that guarantee big deficits, and offers a number of temporary fixes. The GOP demands would make it worse.