Voters call for on-time budget

California set the record for the latest budget in state history with its 2010 budget, which arrived 100 days after its supposed deadline.

All the waiting seems to have gotten under the skin of voters as it looks as if Proposition 25, also dubbed the On-Time Budget Act, will pass with relative ease as 54.9% of voters have given the legislation their stamp of approval.

La Cañada Mayor Don Voss opted not to disclose whether he supported the bill, since the city hasn't officially taken a stance on the matter, but admitted an on-time budget would be nice.

"Obviously, I think everyone would agree that it would be great to get the state budget passed on time," Voss said.

Proposition 25 gets rid of the two-thirds majority needed to pass a state budget or budget-related legislation, requiring just a simple majority, while retaining a two-thirds vote to raise taxes.

"We have to get our budget done each year, and we do, by June 30," Voss said. "The state doesn't feel the same urgency."

The bill looks to create urgency for California lawmakers to pass a budget. Under the legislation, lawmakers would permanently forfeit daily salary and expenses until a state budget is accepted. Currently, pay is withheld every day the budget is late, but back pay can be collected once it's passed.

City budgets are dependent on federal dollars. This creates a problem when cities are planning a budget without knowing how much funding Sacramento will afford them until the state adopts a budget.

School districts that rely on government funding have the same problem cities do when waiting for a state budget.

"I think it would be beneficial for school districts because it would, one hopes, reduce the amount of time we have to wait before we have some certainty," La Cañada Unified School District Superintendent Jim Stratton said. "I think it could only be good."

Cindy Wilcox, LCUSD board member, said a budget passed with a simple majority could be good for public education.

"It's a good thing to have a budget with a visible majority," Wilcox said. "It's more likely to reflect the mainstream voters. Education is a very high priority for voters, so I think it will stay at or near the top of the voters' lists."

Perhaps the legislation will bring change to Sacramento, Stratton said.

"There have basically been no attempts to do any structural reshaping of how public education is really funded," Stratton said. "I'm hoping this might actually propel some bolder thinking in Sacramento."

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