For me and many people, the big news this weekend was the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. For me and a small number of legislators and Capitol watchers, the news was the delay of the California state budget.
California is only one of three states that has a two-thirds vote requirement to pass a state budget, trailer bill, or tax legislation. As a result, we now have a situation where 14 legislators out of 120 are holding up the passage of a budget. The full Assembly has passed a budget that, whatever its flaws, has the support of the Governor, the Assembly Democrats, the Assembly Republicans, and the Senate Democrats, and possibly one Senate Republican. But since we need two thirds of both the Assembly and Senate, we need two Senate Republicans to vote for the budget.
Health and human services are nearly a third of the state budget, and is often held hostage in these negotiations. This has been true more in previous years, but every budget matters to health care. We’ll see tomorrow what budget or policy change they are able to get, as they impose the tyranny of the minority.
There’s a reason health advocates have consistently supported reforms for the budget process, including lessening the two-thirds vote requirement. Here’s to a budget that comes out before the new Harry Potter book hits the big screen.