Dems launch Majority Rule petition

A petition drive to help put a constitutional change on the ballot to change the current 2/3 rule for revenue and budget measures in the California State Legislature has begun.


WHEREAS, the state of California requires a 2/3’s vote of the legislature to pass all revenue related legislation;

WHEREAS, this has resulted in rule by a minority of the legislature that has consistently blocked the will of the majority of the citizens of the state of California, delayed annual enactment of revenue related legislation to support the state budget, reduced the credit rating of the state, and forced the state to rely on borrowing which burdens future generations of California citizens;

WHEREAS, the 2/3’s rule has resulted in a fiscal catastrophe for the state of California, has caused undue harm to the health and welfare of its citizens, and undermined democratic rule;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the California Democratic Party Central Committee supports amending the constitution of the state of California to allow a simple majority of the Legislature to pass revenue related legislation; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the California Democratic Party Central Committee will distribute copies of this resolution to the California Senate and Assembly, other California County Democratic Central Committees, as well as Democratic clubs, and work to support legislation that will overturn the 2/3’s vote requirement.

This resolution was drafted by Sally Sweetser Delegate 11th Assembly, member of the Diablo Valley Democratic Club and Ellis Goldberg Delegate 15th Assembly, President of the TriValley Democratic Club.


Sponsor: Ellis Goldberg,, 925/831-8355, 15th AD
Alternate: Sally Sweetser,, 925/335-2647, 11th AD

Organizers say this is the beginning of a multi stage process. A resolution will be drafted by lawyers and submitted to the Attorney General for approval. After AG approval the resolution is posted on the Secretary of State’s website. A 150 day period is allowed for gathering 700,000 signatures in order to qualify to get the resolution on the ballot. Once qualified for the ballot the campaign heats up for about 60 days. Then there is an election. Election are typically in November of May/June. November 2010 election will include Governor, Senator, all Congress, all Assembly some state senate and local offices plus ballot measures. May/June elections are less exciting but will be the earliest opportunity to end the pain that the 2/3 rule is the root cause of.

The attempt is being made for a grassroots level drive that will include as many organizations as are willing to join in. The local Democratic Clubs are holding a Pre-Petition open organization meeting 3PM-5PM at the Democratic Community Center 2737 Clayton Road, Concord, CA across from the Bart station.

Further information on the effort can be found at:

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  1. says

    Sally Sweetser says,

    “To Benjamin Franklin, the United States was set up as a democracy, which is defined as government exercised either directly by the people or through elected representatives, and rule by the majority (see dictionary). This is basic high
    school civics and should be known by all.”

    I’m not sure what high school civics class you took, but Ben Franklin (and all of the other founding fathers for that matter) were concerned about majority rule and rejected a democracy.

    For example:
    Outside Independence Hall when the Constitutional Convention of 1787 ended, Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

    Democracy was viewed as it should be… Mob rule!


  2. Sally Sweetser says

    [This] article by Edi Birsan (Dems launch Majority Rule petition) caused quit a stir. As part of the group lobbying for a majority vote on the budget and revenue, I thought I would respond. The initiative states that ╲All legislative actions on revenue and budget must be determined by majority vote.╡

    To Benjamin Franklin, the United States was set up as a democracy, which is defined as government exercised either directly by the people or through elected representatives, and rule by the majority (see dictionary). This is basic high school civics and should be known by all. I guess the California education system is worse than I thought.

    It was nice to read that David N. moved to Texas. I lived there for 20 years but seem to have a better grasp of Texas state finance. There is strong support in California for an oil severance tax, or royalty. Texas has such a tax along with all the other, except California, oil producing states in the nation. In fact California is the only oil producing area in the world, which includes Nigeria, the United Kingdom, Norway, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Russia to name a few, that gives away its oil for free. Whenever it is proposed that we tax oil, the shrieking of No Taxes is heard throughout the land. This act would add to our coffers without affecting the average citizen.

    In addition, the shrieking makes it impossible to change the revenue structure of the state in order to make it more equitable or to respond to a changing economy. Part of the reason that we have had such a reduction in revenue over the past 2 years is our reliance on the state income tax. Revenue would be more stable if we could shift to an oil severance tax and lower the state income rates. But with minority rule and the hysteria it encourages, this will never be. In fact, Texas uses its money from the oil tax to fund higher education.

    Texas does not have Prop 13 to undermine revenue from property taxes. All property is assessed at 100% of market value and nobody is forced to the streets. And local revenues support local programs with commercial property paying a higher percentage of the total than residential property. But then California is a high cost state and much of the cost can be attributed to high property values. The median home price in California is currently $329,900 while the same in Texas is $184,800 ( I noticed when we moved out here that our income was higher, but our disposable income was lower. This phenomenon is result of the higher housing and transportation costs in California, not state taxes, which can be deducted from your federal taxes.

    And I hear a lot of whining about the high pay for state employees. State employees, as well as everyone else, are paid lower. Besides being a right-to-work state, Texans are not really against illegal immigration. I know this surprised the Republican Party when Pres. Bush was more accommodating to illegal immigrants. It keeps the pay down. You will never see a demonstration on the border against Mexican labor in Texas. If California residents want low salaries for state employees, they are going to have to accept a lower standard of living for everyone.

    The main issue is that democracy is our form of government, and because of the 2/3 rule, we are governed by the tyranny of the minority. Changing the vote requirement to a majority for budget and revenue will ensure that Californiaâ•˙s budget can meet the stateâ•˙s needs and be passed on time. There was a time in Californiaâ•˙s history when we had a common vision for the state. Public funds were used to create a world class education system, transportation network, water distribution system, public parks and to support a middle class life style. The state is now ungovernable and that has eroded our quality of life. The state is unable to respond to changes in revenue, there is a fiscally unsound reliance on borrowing and ballot box budgeting, and we are faced with a reduction in basic services.

    The fact is that government is a necessary condition for a strong economy and workable state. I hope that all those threatening to move to Texas, or wherever, understand that you will pay for whatever services the state provides. Nothing is free. We need to restructure the state financing system to accommodate new and more stable sources of revenue. For those shrieking to the wind, please leave. It will make it easier for the rest of us.

    • says

      Sally, your tome reads like a decaf no-fat latte, i.e. a whole lot of nothing. Besides the usual complaints about whiners, shriekers, and poor Texans, you mention a time when everything was so groovy in California: schools, water, transportation, parks, quality of life. What’s so different now? Why is the state so ungovernable? There was a 2/3 majority rule then, too. The only real difference I see is massive illegal immigration and the radicalization of the public employee unions (now 57% of state workforce) by far left union leadership; the same forces that are agitating to wipe out any checks on budget making. Hmmm.

      BTW Restructuring state finances has nothing really to do with a 2/3 majority. So let’s not confuse the two issues. And your attempt to blame costs on transportation and housing instead of government policy and taxation is completely divorced from reality.

      Finally, without shrieking, please prove to use how reducing overall labor costs for state government employees must equal a lower standard of living for everyone? I’d love to hear that one.

      And you are one of the chief lobbyists or Alternates for this petition? OMG.

  3. Benjamin Franklin says

    “When the people find they can vote themselves money,
    that will herald the end of the republic.”

    Alexis de Tocqueville wrote something similar: “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”

    California is a republic, not a democracy, Edi.

  4. Profile photo of Edi Birsan says

    One of the better aspects of majority rule in the budget is that also allows for easier shifts in the budget both ways. This way excessive moves to the left or the right can be moderated rather than the current system of grotesque blackmail or hold up by a minority. Think of it in reverse- how tolerant would the Republicans be if they were a majority and the Democrats were holding back changes in the budget?
    Majority rule on budget items allows for a reasonable shift and counter shift both ways.

  5. David N says

    If you really want to screw up California, then pass this amendment. Tax rates will get cranked up and the taxpaying middle class and upper classes will leave in droves. I left in 2006 when my wife and I were paying $1000/month in state income taxes. We went to Texas. Best move I ever made.