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PROP
25
State budget can be passed with a simple majority vote

The Legislature’s vote requirement to send the annual budget bill to the Governor would be lowered from two-thirds to a majority of each house of the Legislature.

Official Election Results:

Yes: 5,262,052 [55.1%]
No: 4,292,648 [44.9%]

Pro / Con

PRO 

Supporters say that Proposition 25 would reform California’s broken state budget process. They claim it would hold legislators accountable for late budgets by stopping their pay and benefits every day the budget is late. Supporters also say Proposition 25 would end budget gridlock by allowing a majority of legislators to pass the budget. They emphasize that it would not lower the two-thirds vote required to raise taxes.

Supporters

End Budget Gridlock [Website archived in Online Campaign Literature Archive]

California Coalition for Leadership and Accountability[Website no longer available]

CON 

Opponents say that politicians and special interests are promoting Proposition 25 to make it easier for politicians to raise taxes and restrict voters' constitutional right to reject bad laws. Opponents claim that Proposition 25 wouldn’t punish politicians, who would just increase their lavish expense accounts.

Opponents

Stop Hidden Taxes

Polling

Polling

Field Poll # 2365, October 31, 2010
“The Yes side remains in the lead on Prop. 25. Currently 48% are voting Yes while 31% are opposed. This seventeen-point lead is similar to a sixteen point lead in September.”

USC/Los Angeles Times Frequency Questionnaire, October 13-20, 2010 [Archived in the Internet Archive]
“Proposition 25 would change the legislative vote requirement to pass budget and budget-related legislation from two-thirds to a simple majority. It would retain the two-thirds vote requirement for taxes. Members of the legislature would permanently forfeit daily salary and expenses until a budget bill passes. If the election were held today, would you vote yes or no on Proposition 25?”

Reuters: Political Polling in California: Wave 2, October 2-4, 2010
"Would you vote in favor or against Proposition 25?”

PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and their Government, October 2010
“Proposition 25 is called the ‘Changes Legislative Vote Requirement to Pass Budget and Budget-related Legislation from Two-Thirds to a Simple Majority. Retains Two-Thirds Vote Requirement for Taxes. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.’ If the election were held today, would you vote yes or no on Proposition 25?”

PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and their Government, September 2010
“Proposition 25 is called the ‘Changes Legislative Vote Requirement to Pass Budget and Budget-related Legislation from Two-Thirds to a Simple Majority. Retains Two-Thirds Vote Requirement for Taxes. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.’ If the election were held today, would you vote yes or no on Proposition 25?”

Field Poll # 2356, September 26, 2010
“By a 46% to 30% margin, likely voters remain supportive of Proposition 25, the initiative to allow the state legislature to pass budgets with a simple majority vote..”

In-Depth

In-Depth

The Budget Vote and the Two-Thirds Requirement

The California Constitution includes the following provisions about the budget process:

  • The Governor shall submit a budget to the Legislature within the first 10 days of the calendar year.
  • The Legislature shall pass a budget bill by midnight on June 15.
  • Appropriations from the state's General Fund for any purpose other than public schools must be passed by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.
  • Measures passed for the purpose of increasing state tax revenues must be passed by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.
  • The Governor may reduce or eliminate any appropriation, while approving other portions of a bill, by means of a line-item veto.

The two-thirds vote requirement for appropriations was added to the state's Constitution in 1933, as a result of the passage of Proposition 1, known as the Riley-Stewart Tax Plan. Until then, appropriations from the General Fund (in the form of the Budget Act) were treated like any other legislation and needed a simple majority to pass. State Controller Ray Riley and Senator Frank Stewart were concerned about the growth of government expenditures. Proposition 1 set a spending limit of 5 percent in any two-year period, excluding K-12 education. If the budget grew by less than 5 percent a simple majority was sufficient for passage; however, if spending grew by more than 5 percent a two-thirds vote was required.

The 5 percent spending-limit trigger persisted until it was removed by the passage of Proposition 16 in 1962. Purporting to "eliminate obsolete and superseded provisions" in the state Constitution, this measure deleted the spending-limit portion of the Riley-Stewart Act and left in the two-thirds vote requirement for all appropriations other than those for public education.

California is one of only three states that require a two-thirds vote, or "supermajority" to pass most General Fund spending. The other two are Arkansas and Rhode Island. Five states have a variety of supermajority vote requirements: Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, and Nebraska.

Reform Proposals and Proposition 25

Since 1980, the Legislature has met its June 15 deadline for passing the Budget Photo by David Monniaux, Wikimedia.orgAct only five times. A number of commissions and task forces have reviewed the budget process, and several have recommended changing the two-thirds vote requirement. The most recent reform effort was Proposition 56 in 2004. This measure would have changed the vote requirement to 55 percent for both budget adoption and for raising taxes. Proposition 56 was defeated by 66 percent of the voters.

What Proposition 25 Would and Wouldn't Do

Proposition 25 would lower the vote requirement necessary for each house of the Legislature to pass a budget bill from two-thirds to a majority (50 percent plus 1). The lower vote requirement would also apply to trailer bills that appropriate funds and are identified by the Legislature "as related to the budget in the budget bill." The constitutional provisions of Proposition 25 do not address the two-thirds vote requirement for increasing state tax revenues, and the measure states that its intent is not to change that requirement regarding state taxes.

Proposition 25 would also prohibit members of the Legislature from collecting any salary or reimbursements in any year when the Legislature has failed to meet its June 15 deadline for sending a budget bill to the Governor. This prohibition would remain in effect from June 15 until the day the budget is presented to the Governor, and the prohibited salaries and expenses could not be paid to legislators at a later date.

Voter Resources

Voter Resources

Official CA Documents

Official Voter Information Guide

Campaign Finance Information

Cal-Access General
Committees formed to support or oppose the ballot measure

Cal-Access Ballot Measure Summary Data Search 
Select General 02 November 2010 and Proposition 025.
Cal-Access provides financial information supplied by state candidates, donors, lobbyists, and others.

Nonpartisan Analyses

Ballotpedia

Pros & Cons (League of Women Voters)

Reports and Studies

Proposition 25: Will a “Majority Vote Budget” Help Solve California’s Budget Problems? California Budget Project Budget Brief, September 2010.

Multimedia

Multimedia

Supporters

Opponents

Non-partisan

Endorsements

Endorsements
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