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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 house
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.

This 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.

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.

:: ::

Relevant details:

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.

Originally posted to Simplify on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 04:24 AM PST.

Also republished by California politics.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Left coast tips (32+ / 0-)

    Y'know, when it passed I didn't like the way the new nonpartisan redistricting commission was configured (passed as a ballot initiative, with yet another initiative this round that challenged it but failed), but it's actually turned out well, and not just because Dems are winning.

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 04:24:38 AM PST

    •  The State Senate will be 2/3 Democratic (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Simplify, KingofSpades

         Previously it was 25D-15R. We picked up SD-17 (Santa Cruz and Monterey) with Bill Monning, SD-19 (Santa Barbara and part of Ventura) with Hannah-Beth Jackson, and held on to SD-27 (Thousand Oaks to Western SFV) with the great Sen. Fran Pavley in a battleground district. I know that there was one contested race that the GOP won, Berryhill over Galgiani in SD-05, but I think the other victories put the Dems over the top.

          It is hard to add them up because only half of the Senate is up every two years and with redistricting many of the numbers and locations of the districts have changed.  I live in Fran Pavley's old district, which was a safe Dem seat with more LA and less Ventura. Now I am in an even numbered district with Sen. Alex Padilla, a vendido-Dem, for whom I will not be voting. Actually he is termed out in two years so I'll just vote against him when he runs for LA City offices.

           I can't believe that we are getting 2/3 in the Assembly, but that is easier to verify because they are all elected every two years. I think it was a quirky underdog victory in the OC that put us over the top. I'll count seats tomorrow morning when I go to the SOS elections page. I am too tired right now.

      Diehard Swingnut, disgruntled Democrat, age 54, new CA-30

      by Zack from the SFV on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 04:15:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We got the Assembly too! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Simplify, KingofSpades

           I couldn't sleep so I looked it up. The Dems look to have a 54-26 majority which is barely 2/3. The OC race is in AD-65 where the Democratic candidate just barely beat Assm. Chris Norby. Her name is Sharon Quirk-Silva and she was not expected to win.

        Diehard Swingnut, disgruntled Democrat, age 54, new CA-30

        by Zack from the SFV on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 04:47:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  California can be debt free. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    *#1  California state lottery should cost $2.00   .50 cents goes to alternate school budget as promised when lottery first became legal.  .50 cents goes straight to debt.

    # 2  California should retain lost revenue from offshore sports betting.   California should set up sports betting at race tracks and collect millions that could be going to the state rather than other countries.

    #3 California should consider taxing religion.  The reasons for not taxing the church are no longer present.  Religion is now one of the largest businesses in the state.  Religion is one of the largest property owners in the State.  Businesses are using "Religion" as their shield from taxes, and the state is loosing billions in tax revenue, while these "religions continue to bring in millions.  ( Legitimate tax breaks should apply to the original sentiment of the tax code in regards to taxes.)

    #4 California needs to find a way to level the playing field with all of it's residents with how it raises taxes.
    California should lower the state income tax collected through pay checks, and raise the sales tax.  Too many resident's are on a paid by cash system.  

    " With religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 04:44:15 AM PST

  •  This: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badscience, dkosdan
    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.
    Hell to the yeah!  That's home!  Now let's get the fuck to work.  :-)

    "If Mitt takes office, sooner or later, the Zomnies will come for all of us." -Joss Whedon

    by quillsinister on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 04:48:52 AM PST

  •  I've been talking about an oil extraction tax for (8+ / 0-)

    ten years. I've been a school board member for 20 years.

    California budget deficits could be a thing of the past if the Gov and legislature would step up to the plate. Unfortunately, big oil is very generous to politicians.

    Obama 2012, Hillary 2016, Michelle 2024

    by hideinplainsight on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 04:53:33 AM PST

  •  Income? Property? (0+ / 0-)

    Which taxes will go up?

  •  Really? (0+ / 0-)

    Bout time. Now I can go back to California.

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