September 24, 2008 > Letter to the Editor: End future budget impasses
Letter to the Editor: End future budget impasses
I realize that little can be done by the citizens this year in getting a balanced state budget passed and signed by the Governor. Thousands of people are being hurt financially while members of the legislature fail in their duty to the people who hire them. My proposal is for a tough State constitutional amendment to put an end to this. I know that the legislature would never adopt my proposal, so we will have to do it by initiative.
The general tack of my proposal is that if a balanced budget is not passed by midnight on June 15, then the entire legislature is immediately fired at 12:01 am on June 16, and the previous year's budget is automatically extended to the next year. Those members of the legislature who are fired are further banned for life from ever running for or being appointed to any elective or appointed office, board seat, or commission seat, at any level, in the State of California, and from ever holding or being appointed to any office that represents California at the Federal level, namely a seat in Congress. They would also have any pension credit for time served in the legislature removed from the pension accounts.
Regarding the midnight deadline, midnight means 12:00 pm Pacific Time. No shenanigans of stopping the clock in the Capitol building or other gimmicks of extending the deadline would be permitted. Some legislators might try to resign just before the deadline in an attempt to avoid being fired, but to stop that, any one who has served even one day in the legislature during that legislative term would be included in the lifetime ban. This provision would overrule any term limit, even if a legislator had additional time left before being termed out.
Also at midnight June 15, if no balanced budget is passed by both houses, the legislative term ends and no further business can be conducted until new elections are held. If this happens during an election year, and since this deadline usually comes after primary elections are held, any fired legislator will automatically have his/ her name removed from the November ballots. The second place finisher from the same political party's primary, if there is such an individual, will take the fired-legislator's place on the November ballot. If there is no second place primary finisher, then that party's position on the November ballot shall remain unfilled. No one who did not run in the primary would be allowed to fill the vacant ballot position.
Members of the State Assembly and Senate work for us and if they, working as our employees, fail to do their most important job, then we the people who hire them should immediately fire them and ban them from ever working for us again. With that threat over their collective heads, you'll never again see a late State budget.
Robert A. Garfinkle