In California, a blue wave and progressive governor: So why are so many leftist plans going under?

CALMATTERS: An unprecedented haul of tax dollars generated by a roaring economy. A governor who campaigned on a big-ticket policy agenda of long-time lefty favorites, including universal childcare and state-funded healthcare for all. A Legislature so thoroughly packed with Democrats it gives rise to a new term—”giga-majority.”

Californians could be forgiven for expecting it all to add up to a liberal bonanza, a gusher of policies that the Democratic Party’s base has been clamoring to enact for decades.

But as the new super-blue Legislature sends Gov. Gavin Newsom his first state budget and the Capitol passes the halfway point for making new laws this year, the progressive policies that are advancing amount to less of a torrent than a trickle.

California may look pretty far to the left from a national perspective, but state-wise, lawmakers have already killed or downsized major items on the progressive wish list. They rejected bills to rein in charter school growth, curb oil production, expand data privacy rights and regulate e-cigarettes. They drastically scaled back ambitious agendas to protect renters and limit soda consumption. Though they approved some big progressive goals—giving workers more paid time off to care for a new baby, boosting government funding for healthcare and childcare—those policies have been whittled down from their original versions, making them more incremental than revolutionary.

If voters expected last year’s blue wave to upend policymaking-as-usual in Sacramento, it seems, at least for now, that the old rules still apply. Why? Moderating forces are still at work: swing-district Democrats remain tax-wary, lobbying and campaign money still wield a lot of influence, and virtually no one wants to burn through the state’s $21 billion budget surplus or its nearly $16 billion rainy day fund.

“There was a lot of talk that with a supermajority and a very progressive governor, things were going to go crazy. But when you’re sitting in that spot and looking at what’s going on, you have to hold the line,” said Dana Williamson, a Democratic political consultant who worked closely with former Gov. Jerry Brown.

“It’s also not as easy as everyone thinks to get a two-thirds vote, even when you have a supermajority.”

Democrats now hold about 75 percent of the Legislature’s seats and most bills need only a simple majority to pass. But some measures—notably, any tax increases—must be approved by two-thirds of both houses. Legislative leaders have historically been strategic about using the supermajority, saving it only for high-priority votes. Even then, getting to two-thirds usually involves a lot of negotiation and heartburn because swing-district Democrats are leery of casting votes that their constituents could see as too liberal.  read more

9 Comments on In California, a blue wave and progressive governor: So why are so many leftist plans going under?

  1. How do you have a $21 billion surplus and a $16 billion rainy day fund and be $1 trillion in the hole for unfunded liabilities?

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  2. Hey, give them a chance; their big leftist plans will be accomplished soon enough, but first they have to confiscate all the guns, One step at a time!

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  3. Talked a bit with a friend in Kali last night and still he thinks Kali is so very awesome and superior to all other states.

    Me: Too many Kalis are coming to Texas because they can’t afford your high taxes.

    Him: Oh? You don’t like all the taxes we pay to the U.S. gov? We pay a lot for your benefit!

    Me: No, keep your people. Stop making it impossible for them to stay there.

    He’s a good man, but with people like him seeing only what they want to see, it’s not even close to being obvious for them.

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