Republicans are nothing, if not responsible. In the late ’90’s, I became an advocate for majority vote budgets because of that character trait in Republicans. My Republican colleagues in the Legislature would always say they had to do the responsible thing in the lean budget years, and vote for tax increases, because “we had to have a budget,” and that budget needed a two thirds vote. Of course, in the budget’s salad days, Republicans loved the two thirds vote because it meant they got some of the pork. We never restrained spending in the good years with the two thirds vote because of the lure of pork, and we never stopped taxes in the bad years because of the need to be “responsible.” It was the worst of both worlds.
So I voted for a majority vote budget. Boy, was that ever controversial. Everybody said I was selling out Republicans. I was being anti-Republican. How could I do such a thing? I of course had no real dog in that hunt, so rather than take the heat, I just stayed quiet. No one was pushing on the matter, I had no friends that wanted it. I just thought it was good policy, because Republicans were getting none of the so-called benefits of the two thirds vote budget, and were getting all the heat whenever they tried to hold out using that rule.
That is why this year is so much fun for me. Democrats hollered for years “if we only had a majority vote budget.” I joined in the chorus for a while, for different reasons, but because I thought the policy would ultimately benefit Republicans. Most of my Republican friends accused me of selling out Republican values. It turns out it was the best thing for Republicans.
They can now require the Democrats to reduce spending. They can put out their own plan, and vote against the Democrat plan, and not hold up the budget. True, in the coming green days of large surges in revenue, they won’t get any pork, but so what? A vote against the budget then will reinforce the Republican values of responsibility in spending, and there will be no temptations on anyone to stick their nose in the trough like the Democrats.
Democrats have no one to blame but themselves for this budget not being on time. They can whine about the Republicans not voting for tax or fee increases, but they have no excuses. They have to pass a budget, on their own.
Now, I know a lot of you think that the Legislators pay should be cut off, but I am not one of those. I think my Republican colleagues are doing their job, and should get paid for holding out on tax increases. If any of them now are like I was when I was there, they can’t afford to have their pay cut off, and they shouldn’t be tempted to vote for a tax increase to keep the paycheck coming. Many of you are asking them to go home to their families and say “hey, I know there is no food on the table, but I’m standing on principle.” That, quite frankly, is unreasonable, and the most effective lobbyist for most Republican legislators is the one they spend their highest quality time with, that is, their families. You cannot ask them to sacrifice their family’s well being (most of you wouldn’t if you were in their position).
So, let them make the Democrats use tricks to keep the paychecks flowing, complain about how rotten the Democrats are for using those tricks, but don’t sue them. Don’t make them choose between their families and taxes. Cheer them on for doing the great work of the people, standing in the way of taxes, and forcing the Democrats to reduce spending.
This is why I love majority vote budgets. Democrats bear all the responsibility for the foolish decisions they have made in the past. They wanted it, they got it. Now they are paying for it.