California Democrats passed a $125 billion budget Thursday, the largest in state history, while slipping in a provision to alter the recall process to protect State Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) and their supermajority.
Newman, a freshman from a relatively conservative district, is facing a recall after he voted for Gov. Jerry Brown’s 12-cent gas tax hike earlier this year. Only one Republican joined the two-thirds majority — in exchange for $400 million in pork for his district — but he has reached the maximum allowable terms and is not running again.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported: “Democrats looking to preserve their supermajority in the Legislature approved a state budget Thursday that includes an unusual provision to help one of their own keep his Senate seat, a move that prompted strong opposition from Republicans who accused the majority party of interfering with the will of voters.”
According to the Associated Press, the “changes would give people time to rescind their signatures from recall positions and let lawmakers weigh in on potential costs of holding a recall election.”
The net effect would be to delay the recall process and push any recall election close enough to the next election that existing rules would require the election to be held at the regularly scheduled time.
Preserving a supermajority would allow Democrats retain unlimited power to raise taxes at will.
However, making the change the way they did — “[s]lipp[ing] into a budget-related bill on a veteran’s cemetery,” according to the San Jose Mercury News — Democrats risk earning the ire of veterans statewide.
The “baldly political move” reportedly angered a number of GOP veterans in the legislature:
“It’s just flat out wrong,” said Assemblyman Devon Mathis, a Republican from Visalia, in an interview with the Mercury News. “I’m a combat veteran, and I didn’t get blown up twice in Iraq to come home and see this happen.”
Another veteran tapped into personal tragedy in his speech opposing the provision, according to Mercury News:
“Assemblyman Dante Acosta, a Republican from Santa Clarita — a Gold Star parent whose son was killed in Afghanistan in 2011 — gave a moving speech about his family’s search for a cemetery close to home before urging his colleagues to vote no.”
The political outrage was not limited to Assembly Republicans.
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, (D-Los Angeles) — who recently admitted “half my family is here illegally” — and fellow Democrats “argued that they were stepping in on the behalf of voters who are being duped into believing that the recall petition is a repeal of gas taxes and vehicle fees,” the Chronicle reported.
‘Never in the history of the recall process have we seen such deception, so brash and brazen and obviously coordinated and so specifically dishonest,’ de León reportedly said.
Republican Joel Anderson of Alpine added: “This doesn’t empower people, it strips them of the voice they have.” Newman told Anderson to “f*** off” after his speech, according to liberal columnist Dan Morian of the Sacramento Bee.
Morain also notes that Newman played a security guard in the first Austin Powers movie: