Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Big Five, Big Mistake (Tom McClintock's article)
State Senator Tom McClintock ^ | Feb. 3rd. 2005 | Tom McClintock

Posted on 02/04/2005 10:18:24 PM PST by GOPXtreme20

Big Five, Big Mistake

by Senator Tom McClintock

Date: February 3, 2005

Publication Type: Column Print Version

Of all the factors contributing to California’s fiscal woes, one of the most fundamental and pervasive is the collapse of the constitutional process by which the state budget is developed in the first place. Ever since the Magna Carta, it has been a settled principle of governance that the authority that requests funds should not be the same one that approves them. This is the heart of our separation of powers, and the most important single mechanism to check the excesses and abuses that occur whenever mere mortals are spending other people’s money.

Following this principle, California’s constitution sets forth a precise procedure for adopting an annual spending plan. As chief executive of the state, the governor submits his request for funds on January 10th of each year. Once he has done so, it is exclusively the legislature’s responsibility to review his request meticulously, openly and independently. On June 15th, the legislature is required to return the budget to the governor, who then re-enters the constitutional process by exercising his power to reduce or eliminate any item that he believes is excessive, checked once again by the legislature’s authority to override vetoes.

During this five-month period of independent legislative consideration, subcommittees that specialize in specific areas of the budget are supposed to revise it item-by-item, while the public is afforded direct input into the expenditure of their money. The subcommittees then deliver their work to the budget committees of each house, which, in turn address the over-arching questions of state finance.

Thus refined, the budget is then debated, amended, and finalized in both houses where all legislators are accorded a voice and a vote on behalf of their constituents. Once each house has independently acted on the budget, a conference committee is convened to resolve the differences between the two houses before the final budget is ratified and returned to the governor.

Over the past 15 years, this constitutional review has been gradually replaced with an extra-constitutional device called the “Big Five,” consisting of the governor and the four legislative leaders.

Last year, the legislature’s consideration of the budget literally collapsed at the subcommittee level with neither house even producing a version of its own. Rather, all significant issues were deferred to the “Big Five,” which met behind closed doors, agreed to a budget, and then delivered it to the legislature for a take-it-or-leave-it vote without public input or serious deliberation.

This brave new system of budgeting short-circuits the checks and balances that have evolved over centuries of legislative practice. The executive not only requests the funds, but also becomes part of the quinquevirate that approves them. By entering the budget negotiations, the governor surrenders his line item veto in deference to the settlement to which he is a party. Instead of the incisive critique by the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the final spending plan is often pieced together with wildly unrealistic assumptions that are exposed only after the budget is adopted.

The “Big Five” began replacing the constitutional structure about the same time that term limits took effect. Before term limits, the legislature had a much stronger institutional identity and tradition that made the surrender of basic constitutional prerogatives unthinkable. Term limits removed that stability and we must now look to other devices to restore it without impeding the free and necessary communication between the executive and legislative branches.

One solution would be a series of internal deadlines for each house to complete each stage of its deliberations. These deadlines could be naturally enhanced by restoring the majority vote for adoption of the budget (the practice in 47 other states) and naturally enforced by prescribing certain budgetary defaults in the event a house fails to act.

This would compel timely progress in advance of the June 15th deadline and remove the “Big Five” as a crucible for drafting the budget at the back end.

In his State of the State Address, Gov. Schwarzenegger recognized that there is something fundamentally wrong with a system that produces chronically late and unbalanced spending plans, and there are many reforms that would help. But the most obvious one is to restore the constitutional process that had produced reasonably balanced and reasonably punctual state budgets for 140 years.

--------------------------------------------------------

Senator McClintock represents the 19th district in the California Legislature. His website address is www.sen.ca.gov/mcclintock.


TOPICS: US: California
KEYWORDS: calbudget; calgov2002; california; mcclintock; schwarzenegger; tommclintock

1 posted on 02/04/2005 10:18:26 PM PST by GOPXtreme20
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: GOPXtreme20
Wow! 2 Articles on Free Republic by Sen. McClintock were posted within 54 seconds.
2 posted on 02/04/2005 10:20:24 PM PST by AVNevis (You are never too young to stand up for America)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GOPXtreme20

Yikes! Anything that starts with a reference to the Magna Carta is bound to lead to balderdash!


3 posted on 02/04/2005 10:26:02 PM PST by CBart95
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GOPXtreme20

BUMP


4 posted on 02/04/2005 10:31:23 PM PST by SweetCaroline (Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and lean yourself upon him... Psalm 37:7)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NormsRevenge; farmfriend; SierraWasp; FairOpinion; DoughtyOne; Carry_Okie; Amerigomag; ...

Ping.


5 posted on 02/04/2005 11:53:10 PM PST by calcowgirl
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Seadog Bytes
This is the heart of our separation of powers, and the most important single mechanism to check the excesses and abuses that occur whenever mere mortals are spending other people’s money.

He's singing your tune!

6 posted on 02/05/2005 12:10:34 AM PST by calcowgirl
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AVNevis

As long as he is never elected, that's fine with me.


7 posted on 02/05/2005 12:12:45 AM PST by A CA Guy (God Bless America, God bless and keep safe our fighting men and women.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: calcowgirl

I don't think California can balance its budget. Don't we still have $50 billion in debt?

My answer is to auction off the contents of Hearst Castle to the Euros....although all those old church interiors, etc probably wouldn't fetch much over there.


8 posted on 02/05/2005 12:13:10 AM PST by BurbankKarl
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: CBart95
Yikes! Anything that starts with a reference to the Magna Carta is bound to lead to balderdash!

And bad Latin. There ain't no such word as "quinquevirate". If you really want to be that pretentions, it's quintumvirate. Typical of the New York Slimes to indeed get that pretentious - and equally typical that they get it wrong.

9 posted on 02/05/2005 12:14:54 AM PST by John Locke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: John Locke
Typical of the New York Slimes to indeed get that pretentious - and equally typical that they get it wrong.

??

10 posted on 02/05/2005 12:38:23 AM PST by Lancey Howard
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: CBart95
Yikes! Anything that starts with a reference to the Magna Carta is bound to lead to balderdash!

LOL, yeah usually. Fortunately, McClintock doesn't deal in "balderdash". This was a nice article that will hopefully serve to remind some California legislators what their job is.

11 posted on 02/05/2005 12:41:30 AM PST by Lancey Howard
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: GOPXtreme20

Sounds like California has adopted the corrupt Illinois legislative budget process. A coupld of big hitters in a back room...


12 posted on 02/05/2005 2:11:13 AM PST by EternalVigilance (Freedom. Brought to you by the grace of God and the Red, White and Blue...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: A CA Guy
What's your problem with McClintock? Not too "moderate" for you, eh? I have a big problem with so-called moderates and social liberals taking over the California Republican Party and this very disturbing trend needs to stop now before it is too late. I have one simple question to ask to all of the McClintock haters out there: Are you going to vote for a very liberal Democrat John Garamendi over Tom McClintock for the Lt. Governor race in 2006?
13 posted on 02/05/2005 2:29:03 AM PST by GOPXtreme20
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: GOPXtreme20

McClintock will kick Arnies butt and should run against him in the primaries. Arnold doesn't know his arse from a hole in the ground when it comes to hardball politics.


14 posted on 02/05/2005 2:34:26 AM PST by John Lenin (Don't let them fool you)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: John Lenin
No, he won't. Since Arnold raised money for Tom McClintock, Tom's a loyal party foot soldier. He won't run against a sitting governor. My guess is he'll either run for State Treasurer or for State Controller in 2006.

Denny Crane: "There are two places to find the truth. First God and then Fox News."

15 posted on 02/05/2005 4:42:51 AM PST by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: goldstategop

Tom is running for Lt Governor in 2006. He already has a committee sending out fund requests which I have on my desk to contribute to...


16 posted on 02/05/2005 6:42:29 AM PST by tubebender (Can someone remind me what my Near Years resolutions were...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: GOPXtreme20
The “Big Five” began replacing the constitutional structure about the same time that term limits took effect. Before term limits, the legislature had a much stronger institutional identity and tradition that made the surrender of basic constitutional prerogatives unthinkable. Term limits removed that stability and we must now look to other devices to restore it without impeding the free and necessary communication between the executive and legislative branches.

This is the crux. No matter how bad the legislature was, term limits made it worse. Instead of ensconsed and corrupt professional politicians, we got a batch of ignorant put-ups, beholden only to the interests who funded their run, and often not caring about re-election, therefore both clueless and not accountable to the people.

There was an excellent discussion of term length and re-election in Federalist 53.

17 posted on 02/05/2005 7:47:11 AM PST by Carry_Okie (The fourth estate is the fifth column.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: John Lenin
McClintock will kick Arnies butt and should run against him in the primaries. Arnold doesn't know his arse from a hole in the ground when it comes to hardball politics.

Yes, of course, sure, uh-huh...

Good article and I wasn't surprised it was the OC dummie who first beget the McClintock attack. TMcC is a good man, who is capable of distinguishing between running against someone in the primaries and attacking them. Unfortunately, in the present era the first isn't effective without the second. To use a good McClintock article to wind up the anti-Arnie crowd is divisive. Let's Come Together, Imagine that.

18 posted on 02/05/2005 8:09:47 AM PST by 68 grunt (3/1 India, 3rd, 68-69, 0311)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: goldstategop
Tom's a loyal party foot soldier.

No he's a realist. He has never been a "foot solider" nor has he ever been blindly "loyal" he'll speak out when common sense demands it.

He has opened a committee for Lieutenant Governor and those are his plans in 2006, period.

19 posted on 02/05/2005 8:14:59 AM PST by ElkGroveDan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: GOPXtreme20

"...the public is afforded direct input into the expenditure of their money."

yeah, right!

many are stuck on the clogged freeways, talking on their cell phones, and rear-ending the vehicles ahead of them.

when they get home, their concerns are: sex, eating, alcohol, drugs, hollywood movies, sports, shopping, and gambling.

meanwhile, at the local californios library some bolshevik has ordered books in spanish, cambodian, vietnamese, chinese, etc., and books you want to read are NOT available.

si.


20 posted on 02/05/2005 8:19:28 AM PST by ken21 (most news today is either stupid or evil.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GOPXtreme20

Through the initiative process, I'd like to see a law passed that would require the Legislature and Senate submit a budget to the Governor by June 15th. Failing that, the Legislature and Senate seats would be vacated. Special elections would be held within weeks and a new interim session called at once, to pick up where the previous incompetants had left off.

Sounds rather harsh, but I'm guessing future business would be handled in a timely manner.


21 posted on 02/05/2005 8:52:54 AM PST by DoughtyOne (US socialist liberalism would be dead without the help of politicians who claim to be conservative.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: A CA Guy; calcowgirl; DoughtyOne; farmfriend; NormsRevenge; Amerigomag; FairOpinion; Carry_Okie

Brother! Are you ever obsessed by terminal prejudas!!!


22 posted on 02/05/2005 9:00:25 AM PST by SierraWasp (al-Najr, 38, after casting a ballot for the first time in his life. "I get to say I'm human now.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: 68 grunt
Good article and I wasn't surprised it was the OC dummie who first beget the McClintock attack. TMcC is a good man, who is capable of distinguishing between running against someone in the primaries and attacking them. Unfortunately, in the present era the first isn't effective without the second. To use a good McClintock article to wind up the anti-Arnie crowd is divisive. Let's Come Together, Imagine that.

Well said former adversary.

23 posted on 02/05/2005 10:31:05 AM PST by PeoplesRep_of_LA (I can't believe I voted for this Cheap Labor Activist)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: ElkGroveDan
"He has opened a committee for Lieutenant Governor and those are his plans in 2006, period."

If Arnold or Fienstien decide not to run for reelection, do you think he would run for one of those offices. I do and hope that he would.
24 posted on 02/05/2005 10:34:44 AM PST by AVNevis (You are never too young to stand up for America)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: ken21

That is an accurate analysis IMO.


25 posted on 02/05/2005 10:53:57 AM PST by Canticle_of_Deborah
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: 68 grunt

Arnie is self destructing, all hat, no cattle.


26 posted on 02/05/2005 12:14:00 PM PST by John Lenin (Don't let them fool you)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: John Lenin

You're self-exposing, all mouth, no brain.


27 posted on 02/05/2005 12:26:46 PM PST by 68 grunt (3/1 India, 3rd, 68-69, 0311)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: 68 grunt

Speaking for yourself ?


28 posted on 02/05/2005 12:37:24 PM PST by John Lenin (Don't let them fool you)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: Canticle_of_Deborah

gracias!


29 posted on 02/05/2005 2:02:21 PM PST by ken21 (most news today is either stupid or evil.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson