As goes Nevada, so goes California
California Superintendent Jack O’Connell wants the state Supreme Court to order that a majority of legislators — not the constitutionally required two-thirds — can pass the state budget. After all, Nevada’s Supreme Court did it. (Wrongly and for political reasons, writes Eugene Volokh.)
“It’s very much based on the Nevada ruling,” said Rick Miller, spokesman for O’Connell. “He thinks it is his obligation as superintendent to do everything in his power to make sure schools are properly funded.”
A suspension of the two-thirds requirement for passing a budget would allow Democrats to pass — without Republican support — a budget that contains a half-cent increase in sales taxes and a hike in the income tax for high earners. Republicans oppose any new taxes and have said they will not vote for any budget that includes them.
Gov. Gray Davis says he’ll join the lawsuit if legislative leaders don’t cut a deal on the budget. Presumably the lawsuit is a way to put more pressure on the Republicans.
Update: The school budget is exempt from the two-thirds requirement, points out Dan Weintraub in the Sacramento Bee. A simple majority will do.
Democrats can pass a school budget whenever they like, without Republican votes (though Republicans would probably join them.) Why don’t the Dems do this? Because they don’t want to lose the leverage and political base they get from keeping the popular schools, which serve the middle class, hitched to health and welfare spending for the poor, about which the public is less enthusiastic.
It’s the politics.