Will the Dems use it or blow it? We talk to Sacramento insiders to find out.
After years of budget battles and stymied bills on everything from aqueducts to zoo animals, California just swore in Democrats to more than two-thirds of the seats in both the State Assembly and the State Senate. This means that Governor Jerry Brown’s veto power may be the only thing that can hold back a tide of absolute Democratic control (that, or the Democrats’ famous tendency to implode). Brown may share a lineage with the supermajority, but he has a history of throwing kryptonite at free-spending liberals. We asked several Sacramento insiders to tell us how this new balance of power might play out.
Gavin Newson, Lieutenant Governor
Best-case scenario: We no longer focus on who’s to blame, but on what to do. The state can take national leadership on issues like gun control and immigration policy, in addition to working on our education, infrastructure, and water issues.
Worst-case scenario: Hubris. We cannot permit ourselves to believe that we are endowed with superior thinking that would allow us to dismiss the view of others.
What will the GOP do? I’d love to see less finger-pointing on both sides. This dance takes two.
Tom Ammiano, Veteran Democratic Assembly Member for San Francisco
Best-case scenario: I’d like to see us reverse some of the terrible cuts to social spending on issues like education and healthcare. One way to do that is by closing corporate tax loopholes.
Worst-case scenario: Some of our more moderate members may be reluctant to stick their necks out too far because of their own beliefs or the districts they represent.
What will the GOP do? There are some great new smartphone apps out there.
Phil Ting, Newbie Democratic Assembly Member for San Francisco
Best-case scenario: We should raise revenue and cut expenditures so that we have a budget that isn’t in the red the way it’s been for years now. I’m a big fan of a more streamlined tax code, too.
Worst-case scenario: We can’t convince the voters to raise taxes or cut spending, both of which they’ve consistently said they don’t want to do.
What will the GOP do? I have no idea. I’m still brand-new.
Connie Conway, Republican Minority Leader, State Assembly
Best-case scenario: Some of the Dems who won this year ran with GOP ideas, so I hope they keep listening to our side.
Worst-case scenario: Democrats will raise your taxes even more. Sales and income taxes have already gone up, and they’re talking about weakening Proposition 13 and lowering the threshold to pass local taxes.
What will the GOP do? It’s easy for the spinners to label us the Party of No, but we want to be part of the process. We aren’t crazy.
Thad Kousser, Professor of Political Science, UC San Diego
Best-case scenario: Some long-standing Democratic ideas get enacted, such as a tax on oil production, the elimination of certain tax loopholes, and reform of the initiative process.
Worst-case scenario: There’s a caucus within the Democratic majority who don’t always agree with the liberals and may not want to cast a tough vote if they’re worried about their own futures.
What will the GOP do? If the Dems need one or two more votes, suddenly the GOP becomes very important.