Welcome to The Ratchet, as in ratchet up the accountability in politics across California. It's Prop Zero's new weekly weigh-in from contributor Keith Esparros. Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Way back in November we had had it with this budget nonsense, and demanded something be done.
Holding legislators' paychecks hostage seemed like an idea whose time had come.
Treasurer John Chiang says he'll follow through on voter-approved Prop 25 and withhold lawmakers' pay if they fail to pass a budget by the stated deadline of June 15.
And if this bit of political intimidation produces a timely budget, what does it say about our elected officials' real motivation?
California legislators make north of $116,000 a year. Add to that their $173 per diem, and that's a lot more than state legislators anywhere else in the country.
So lawmakers have a real incentive to get their job done and get a budget passed on time.
Should the mandated deadlines actually be met, there will be a great show of backslapping and self-congratulating for a job well done.
Gov. Jerry Brown will crow about his leadership, and the Assemblymen and Senators will talk about how hard they worked to come up with a budget that they admit is difficult, but is somehow fair.
And then they'll go cash their paychecks.
Is that really what we have to do to get them to do their jobs? We elect them to act in the best interest of us, the citizens of California.
They should have been meeting these deadlines every year; not just when they've been threatened.
Now if the budget agreement is reached on time, they will look like they have acted in the best interest of their bank accounts.
And that's a shame.