Will Democratic Voters Help Republican Legislators?

This week’s news is bad for the Democratic legislative leadership, and good for the minority Republican legislators.  First was the news from the state Democratic Party convention, where rank-and-file delegates narrowly refused to endorse several ballot measures in the May 19th special election.  Then, yesterday, was the release of a statewide survey showing that five of the six measures were in serious trouble.

Current voter sentiment on May 19th ballot measures

Current voter sentiment on May 19th ballot measures

Here’s a link to the full news story:   http://www.sacbee.com/topstories/story/1818253.html

It goes almost without saying that most Republicans oppose the measures (except, perhaps, for Prop. 1F) since they didn’t like the Governor’s budget deal with the Democrats.  What’s a little more surprising is that many Democrats also plan to vote no — including several major labor groups (see the next post for more on this).

What these Democratic voters and groups don’t seem to realize is that by rejecting the ballot measures, they leave the budget unbalanced, and therefore throw it back to the legislature.  Once back in the legislature, Republicans will have a “second bite at the apple” in terms of further reducing state spending and eliminating the already-approved tax increases.  That’s because a revised, balanced, budget will still need a 2/3 vote, and Republicans hold more than 1/3 of the legislative seats.  With grassroots Republicans on the warpath, it’s anyone’s guess whether the few hardy Republican legislators who broke with the party to approve the last budget will be willing to do so again, especially since the voters turned thumbs down to that compromise.

The final effect of voter rejection is likely to be one of two things:  either a budget that’s even more favorable to Republicans than the last, or a budget stalemate, followed by state bankruptcy.  One has to ask whether those Democratic groups urging a No vote on May 19th have seriously considered what the consequences of that vote will be.

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