Hollingsworth wants a new dealmaking process

Ol’ “Zed” Hollingsworth, our awesome Senate Republican Leader has decided that the Big 5 process doesn’t much suit him. Now, I’m not sure what kind of game he’s running, but here it is:

“Look at all the problems when we’ve had with these midnight deals and early-morning votes,” said Hollingsworth. “We should have every decision be made through the normal constitutional processes.”(Riverside P-E 6/8/09)

Of all the messages from the special election, this is the one that is most clear: Californians showed disdain for the process. They showed disdain by voting at extremely low numbers and they showed disdain by voting against the measures. Nobody is really arguing this point.

Now, the difference is that Hollingsworth believes that there is no way tax increases will get through all that populist angst. That may or may not be true, but one thing that is clear is that the cuts aren’t making it through when out in the open.  

In a quest for speed, the Big 5 trades transparency.  We’ve been forced into it because of our consistent crisis mode. I’m not sure this week will be the one where we bust out into the sunlight, but it should be.  The fact of the matter is that when it comes down to it, item after item, we should be getting the Republicans on record.  Throw the whole thing open. Have a vote on eliminating CalWorks. Let’s vote on closing the state parks. Have a vote on massively cutting education. Everything. Let the record be made clear as to where our legislators stand on the issues that will shape California’s future.

At any rate, it is unclear what will be accomplished in the Big 5 from here on out.  Cuts can be done outside of the traditional budget process, and without a 2/3 vote. The elephant in the room is the majority vote fee increases. If we are to increase the gas fee and shift general fund money around, we can, according to the legislative counsel, raise revenue.  Tom Campbell, a Republican candidate for governor, has proposed a 32 cents per gallon fee temporary one year fee. It will be interesting to see whether Arnold takes Campbell, his former Director of Finance, up on the approach.

Yet, the Big 5 will still have some role in the next week or two as a budget deal is hammered out. There simply is no faster way to get to some sort of a deal. Now, if Hollingsworth gets his way, those deals will go through the budget committees. But, I don’t see why that would really be the end of the world.

When all else fails, perhaps good governance isn’t the worst place to start, despite any cynical goals Hollingsworth has in mind.