Group calls for overhaul of budget process

September 16, 2008 7:37:42 PM PDT
The record budget impasse has one Bay Area public policy organization calling for a massive overhaul of the budget process, but there are questions if the two thirds requirement will be dropped.

The budget stalemate has put the child care for children from low income and single parent families in jeopardy. SJB Child Development Centers have 1,400 children in San Jose and haven't gotten any state money since July first. The centers are using lines of credit and reserves just to stay open.

"It's extremely frustrating to understand how we are going to survive and exist and sustain ourselves based on the fact we don't have money to operate," says Kent Williams, CEO of SJB Child Development Centers.

The Bay Area Council says the state has proven itself to be dysfunctional and says drastic times call for drastic action.

Jim Wunderman is president and CEO of the Bay Area Council. The business organization represents more than 275 of the Bay Area's largest employers. The council wants massive reform by holding a California constitutional convention.

"There comes a time when you just have to recognize when the government isn't working properly, that you need to do something about it and a constitutional convention is a way to fix it," says Wunderman, with the Bay Area Council.

Wunderman says the top priorities of a constitutional convention would include: removing the two thirds vote requirement needed to pass a state budget, adopting a two year budget cycle, addressing the initiative process and allowing for more education money in exchange for important reforms.

Democrats say the biggest hurdle to getting a budget passed is on that list.

"This two thirds budget requirement that California has is really a stumbling block. We go through it year, after year, after year," says State Senator Joe Simitian (D) of Palo Alto.

Republicans have shown little interest in giving up that voting power and GOP leaders were not available to us for comment. One assembly aide did say such a change would leave taxpayers with no protection, but for those who depend on a state budget passed on time, a constitutional convention is at least an idea worth discussing.

"I think there are some very positive components to this particular solution, but I think anything has to be better than a budget that doesn't get passed until October," says Williams.

Ironically, if the legislature wants a constitutional convention, it would take a two thirds vote.

To tell your legislator what you think about the state budget mess, go to the Taking Action link below. Just type in your address and we'll provide you with phone numbers and email links to your representatives.

ABC7News: Taking Action


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