Published: Friday, Sep. 24, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 4A

Supporters of Proposition 25, which would allow the Legislature to pass a budget and related bills by a majority vote, launched their first television ad this week. Following is the text of the ad and analysis by Kevin Yamamura of The Bee Capitol Bureau:

Text

Woman: Late budgets cost California taxpayers over $50 million a day. Money we need for schools and health care and other services. We can stop that waste with Prop. 25.

Narrator: Prop. 25 lets a majority of legislators pass the budget. Protects the two-thirds vote to raise taxes. And for every day the budget’s late, legislators lose their pay and benefits – permanently.

Woman: Prop. 25 doesn’t raise taxes. It holds legislators accountable for late budgets. Period.

Narrator: No budget, no pay. Yes on 25.

Analysis

The ad plays off voter frustration with the current record-long budget delay but distorts the cost of late budgets, and overstates the measure’s ability to hold the line on taxes or punish lawmakers.

The ad overstates the initiative’s powers to cut off legislative pay and benefits once a budget is late. It’s true that Proposition 25 would stop lawmakers’ pay and per diem benefits if they do not send the governor a budget by the June 15 deadline. But the initiative merely requires that the Legislature send the governor a budget bill, not that it be a bill the governor actually signs. The majority party could approve a bill that would never be enacted but still allow pay and benefits to continue.

It’s a stretch to say the measure “protects” the two-thirds vote requirement for raising taxes. A state appellate court concluded Proposition 25 leaves that requirement intact. But the constitutional provisions in the initiative do not provide greater protection for the two-thirds vote.

To say the budget delay “costs” the state over $50 million a day is incorrect and simplistic. The deficit does not grow by virtue of the delay. What is lost is time.

The state loses the opportunity to cut spending or raise taxes for as many days as the budget is late. To make up for it, the state can rely on even greater cuts or taxes for the shorter period of time left in the fiscal year. But that is generally not an added cost within a given fiscal year.

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