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Sacramento demonstrates perils of a supermajority with slew of harmful bills

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One-party rule is a recipe for dysfunction. An absence of serious political competition fosters a culture of groupthink, stifles substantive policy debate and makes it easier for embedded special interests to take control of our government.

Last week, we saw the harmful consequences of the Democratic supermajorities in the California Assembly and California Senate, where not a single Republican vote is needed to get anything done and only a few powerful lawmakers can call all of the shots.

The California Legislature signed off on two ballot measures taking aim at critical taxpayer protections under Proposition 13. ACA 1 and ACA 13 seek to make it easier for local governments to raise taxes and harder for taxpayers to defend themselves.

According to surveys from the Public Policy Institute of California, 70% of Californians believe they pay more in taxes than they should, 57% believe the state and local tax system isn’t fair and 91% believe the state wastes “some” (46%) or “a lot” (45%) of the taxes we pay.

And yet, the Democratic supermajority decided measures that will make it easier for taxes to be raised had to be a top priority in this legislative session. This includes a number of so-called “moderate” Democrats, from Assemblymember Blanca Rubio to James Ramos to Sabrina Cervantes to state senators like Richard Roth and Tom Umberg.

The supermajority also advanced Senate Bill 799, from Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-Burbank, which proposes to pay unemployment benefits to employed-but-striking workers. This is despite the fact that California’s unemployment insurance system is already deeply indebted to the federal government and that striking, employed workers are not the intended beneficiaries of a system designed to help specifically unemployed workers.

There’s Senate Bill 627, introduced by Sen. Lola Smallwood-Cuevas, D-Los Angeles, which, as explained by CalMatters, “would require retail and service chains, such as restaurants, to use seniority when deciding which workers to retain or transfer when closing outlets.” This bill seeks to punish and micromanage employers by denying them the ability to retain employees based on skill.

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There was also the approval of several state public sector employee contracts full of raises, bonuses and other giveaways, with little oversight.

“This is an alarming lack of transparency and accountability,” Sen. Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks, said on the Senate floor as the Legislature rushed to approve new contracts. “This means we’ll be voting on spending hundreds of millions of dollars without even one hearing at which we can take public testimony, hear the LAO’s evaluation and ask questions.”

And that’s exactly what they did, including giving away a lucrative contract to the state prison guard union that will cost the state $1 billion in additional expenses over the next three years despite warnings from the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

The abysmal quality of governance will continue as long as California voters prioritize party over principles, promises over results.

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