In a potential major shift in power, after yesterday's vote, both the state Senate and Assembly of California are likely to have 2/3 Democratic supermajorities.
Assembly speaker says he has supermajority in lower houseThis is massively important because, ever since Howard Jarvis's infamous Proposition 13 of 1978, it takes a 2/3 vote of the legislature to raise taxes. Given the Republicans' subsequent near-lockstep acceptance of the Norquistian "no new taxes" pledge — those who defied it found themselves purged in the next primary election — the 2/3 requirement, combined with a balanced budget requirement, meant a downward ratchet on revenues and therefore on state services.
By Torey Van Oot, Sacramento Bee
November 7, 2012
Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez said tonight that Democrats have secured a supermajority in the lower house, a surprising development that could give the party the ability to raise taxes on their own if the Senate follows suit. [...]
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said early Wednesday he was not ready to declare victory but felt "very good" about his prospects for taking two-thirds control of the upper house.
Kevin Yamamura contributed to this report.
Most recently we have seen ridiculous scenarios in which a majority Dem legislature and a Dem governor marshaled through budgets with large, painful cuts to truly essential social services. These cuts affect real people's lives, in terms of elder care, programs for the poor, students' tuition and quality of eduction, and many other material things of concern to anybody who cares a whit for one's fellow human beings. This election's Proposition 30, which passed by just a few percentage points, is a halfway-there solution to obtain revenues by going around the Republican state legislators and directly to the electorate.
Let's all hope the returns favor the Democrats as expected. If they do, there will now be no partisan excuses for not fixing the state's woefully broken budget and revenue stream and the state's future along with it. How about an oil extraction tax, eh?
About supermajorities for policy matters:
In Federalist 22, Alexander Hamilton savaged the idea of a supermajority Congress, writing that “its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of government and to substitute the pleasure, caprice or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent or corrupt junta, to the regular deliberations and decisions of a respectable majority.”As for who can take credit for this potentially momentous win:
"Let's be very clear," Pérez said. "This is something that nobody expected to be possible."Actually, some California liberals roundly criticized Speaker Pérez during the "top two" "primaries" for expending campaign resources on incumbent Dems at the expense of a better chance at 2/3, even in cases of Dem-on-Dem battles. So, this could've been an easier and surer fight than it was.
Speaking of "top two" in that particular race, the four candidates got (PDF) 25.8%, 25.6%, 24.4%, and 24.3%. This better divines the intent of the voters how? Ranked-choice voting or proportional representation, please.
About one of the potentially ousted Republicans:
Democratic candidates led their GOP opponents in two swing Assembly districts early Wednesday morning, and an upset was brewing in a race between Fullerton Mayor Sharon Quirk-Silva and GOP Assemblyman Chris Norby.Of all the Republicans to go, it's actually too bad that it's Asm. Norby — he's the one principled libertarian in the legislature. Even Obama has said that, in contrast to Republicans generally, at least you can argue with a libertarian.
In a schizophrenic move with two initiatives on the same 2010 ballot, California voters rescinded the 2/3 supermajority required to pass a budget but added a 2/3 supermajority to pass fees (as distinct from taxes).
Ironically, Prop. 13 passed as a ballot initiative with a majority but less than 2/3 of the popular vote. Funny enough, Jerry Brown was governor at the time. Even more history:
If Democrats take both houses by a supermajority, it would be the first time a party has done that since 1933, Steinberg said.
12:33 PM PT: David Dayen at Firedoglake credits the introduction of online voter registration for the extra push over the top.