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Bill Would Curb Unfunded Initiative Mandates

Posted on Wednesday, May 18, 2011 10:01am

Legislation intended to reduce what’s commonly called “ballot box budgeting” has cleared a legislative committee.

The legislation would require ballot initiatives that cost money to specify a new funding source. Exceptions would include initiatives involving bonds and those costing less than five million dollars. Democratic Assemblyman Mike Gatto helped write the constitutional amendment. He says it’s designed to get rid of unfunded mandates created by the electorate.

“This measure would simply put in the constitution that there is no more such thing as an unfunded mandate put in place by a ballot measure that puts in place a program without identifying how it’s going to pay for it,” says Gatto.

Critics include taxpayer groups, who point out that lawmakers already have the ability to suspend many voter-approved initiatives. Lew Uhler of the National Tax Limitation Committee, says, “we feel that this is truly an affront to the initiative process and the people’s right to change government through the action and power of the people.”

The bill would require a two-thirds vote of the legislature and approval by voters.

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