The election is over, but the fallout from Tuesday's vote is still becoming clear. That's especially true in Sacramento, where Democrats seem to have won two-third majorities in both the State Assembly and Senate. Host Scott Shafer talks about what comes next for Governor Jerry Brown and the Legislature with John Myers, political editor for KXTV in Sacramento.
SCOTT SHAFER: Is it fair to say that after the passage of Prop. 30, the most important unexpected thing to happen Tuesday might be that supermajority that Democrats seem to have won?
JOHN MYERS: I think so Scott. Keep in mind a couple of things. First of all, no party has had a supermajority of the Legislature since 1933 so we really are talking about something that Californians have not seen in a couple of generations. And second of all, unlike a lot of states where the majority party in their statehouses get all the tools in the tool box of state government , California has split that up a lot because of our voter registration patterns to where it’s a two-thirds vote for taxes, a two-thirds vote to put measures on the ballot and other things. This supermajority will change that I think. You know some people believe this could be a tipping point at least in how the state governs itself whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican. It is a big shift in who gets to pull the levers.
SHAFER: And does that mean the state government may become more functional or less dysfunctional?
MYERS: Well, certainly one thing it will do I think is it will show the voters who’s in charge. I mean I do think that the two-thirds supermajority when you haven’t been able to have it as one party, -- especially when it took that to pass the budget and that has changed now -- has driven deals that really don’t have anybody’s fingerprints on them in terms of what it means about a Democratic priority, or if it was a Republican priority. You know there have been deals cut in the back, they were side deals to get one vote here, one legislator here, I think this will show the priorities at least of Democrats and I do think it puts the Democrats on the “hot spot” that if they can’t stand up to that measure of power then maybe the voters would look unkindly in two years.
SHAFER: I talked to Tom Del Baccaro, the outgoing chair of the Republican Party in California, and he acknowledged the obvious, which is that Republicans need to do a better job of reaching out to Latinos, to women and to younger voters -- but he also had this to say about where that super majority leaves the state: “One party rule is never good. The Democrats have had their sway for the better part of two decades in the state and we have policies that have lead to 20 percent under-employment and massive deficits.” John, where does this leave the Republican Party?
MYERS: I think it leaves them searching for a lot of answers as to what to do next. One thing I think in listening to Chairman Del Baccaro’s statements is that he talks about how things are bad in California now and, well, that means they were bad when Republicans actually had the voice that they apparently don’t have in the supermajority. I think Republicans have got to determine what their message is, who their constituency is. I know there’s a lot of internal debate about whether they need to be broadening out and maybe moderating their tone or whether they just need to communicate better. But clearly there are wide swaths of the electorate in California they are not reaching. They’re not reaching Latinos, they’re not reaching young voters and the demographic changes that we’ve seen in the population of California, we’re finally starting to see them in the electorate in this past election. That’s going to be something Republicans have got to think about.
SHAFER: You mentioned higher taxes, which the Democrats could pass on their own, although I don’t know that would get past Governor Jerry Brown. But I’m wondering are there other issues where the governor and, say moderate Democrats, could team up with Republicans to get things done that maybe they wouldn’t have got done with just Democrats before?
MYERS: I do think one of the places to watch is in the notion of regulatory reform, and the one that we’ve talked the last few years is CEQA -- the state’s landmark environmental quality act. There are a number of -- we would call them moderate Democrats -- business-centric Democrats, and the governor himself, who’ve talked about that the landmark environnental law, is maybe not being used in the right way. Some people file CEQA lawsuits just to stop a project for no good reason -- at least that’s the argument. You’ve talked about that but that’s been a high hurdle to get through the Legislature, especially because of the more liberal parts of the Democratic Party. Perhaps there’s some coalition building there. So if you’re a Republican legislator moving into Sacramento in the next few months, you know if you find these issues that you can bridge the gap and work on these coalitions you still have a voice.
SHAFER: I did talk with former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg about how Democrats should deal with Republicans now that they don’t need them to pass much of anything and here’s what he had to say: “Be gracious, bring in the Republicans. They have ideas and don’t keep them out of the room. Whether it is in budget discussions or any discussions bring them to the table and keep them there.” John Myers, do you think that will be the inclination of Speaker Perez and the majority leader, Darrell Steinberg?
MYERS: I think at the beginning we’re definitely hearing that. I talked to Speaker Perez on Wednesday and he said it’s not just about herding the cats of his 54 Democratic members in the Assembly -- the two-thirds -- but it’s also about figuring out what to do with the Republicans. How can he listen to them? He wants to be cognizant of not making this a Democratic vs. Republican issue. But having said that, I think there are substantial issues Democrats can do on their own now and it is not just taxes. You’re right the governor says tax increases are a vote of the people, but what about tax credits? What about fees? What about rule waivers that allow legislation to come up very quickly for a vote. These are things that used to take Republican agreement in the statehouse and now Democrats can do it on their own.