YADWD: Yet Another Dan Walters Diary

Old Man Walters forgot to eat his Metamucil this morning.

Walters is reacting to what California pundits have already decided is Governor Brown’s strategy. In a nutshell, he is going to submit a “clean” budget in early January and then ask the voters to fill in the gaps in a May Special Election. Walters doesn’t like it.

Were Brown’s doomsday strategy to fall short, he’d be stuck with an even worse budget mess and virtually no option other than following through with deep spending slashes in schools and other public services.

Huh? I’m not sure I understand what Walters means here. If the measures fail, the January budget goes into effect. It won’t be a “budget mess”-a human disaster, maybe, but not a “budget mess.” And, yes, those cuts will come, but what’s the alternative?

Walters doesn’t think it will be so easy for Brown to get a budget through in time.

Even before he could seek new taxes from voters, however, Brown would also have to persuade his fellow Democrats in the Legislature to vote for a slash-and-burn budget. And that could be extraordinarily difficult because Democrats would be getting pressure from their political constituencies, such as public employee unions, and be facing uncertain re-elections in 2012 because of redrawn districts and a new “top-two” primary system.

Maybe he wasn’t paying attention in November when the majority vote budget law was passed. That means there would have to be 13 defectors in the Assembly without picking up a Republican and 4 in the Senate without picking up a Republican. Why do I think there’s a chance some Republicans will sign on? Because it will be the kind of austerity budget they want!

Now, far be it from me to impugn the learning of our own local version of David Broder, but does Walters know anything about the dynamics of legislative bodies? There just aren’t the votes there to buck a new governor who just won a solid majority (and therefore a solid mandate from the voters) without breaking a sweat. Maybe a couple will make protest votes. But 13? Yeah, right.

Brown’s budget will sail through and the campaign will be on. I’m guessing there will be several measures covering a number of different priorities, including education, health and welfare, and so on.

So, what does Walters want him to do? Try and do it the old fashioned way and find 3 Senate Republicans and 2 Assembly Republicans to vote to raise taxes? He must believe that “pox on both your houses” kind of rhetoric that would hold that it is equally tough for Dems to vote against the unions on the one hand and Republicans to vote to increase taxes on the other. Bullshit.

Personally, I think Brown’s strategy is brilliant. The voters have wanted it both ways for too long and the Republicans have been able to pin all of the tax increases on Democrats. They won’t be able to do that if the voters approve (though surely they will still try).

As an aside, I am strongly in favor a ballot measure that would reduce to 55% or to bare majority the ability of school districts to raise parcel taxes. I hope that shows up too, and I plan on doing some work to make sure it does.


Joe Matthews apparently also thinks Dan Walters is being a dick.