John Smithton, Sacramento Times
Thursday, November 8, 2012
LOS ANGELES - Democrats, after gaining a two-thirds majority in both the
California Assembly and Senate following Tuesday's election, will be
bringing several new laws forward, all without the need for Republican
The most striking of these is a bill which would restrict wealthy California
wage earners from leaving the state without facing a large penalty
assessment on their real estate and financial assets.
Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown quickly cautioned that he would take any such
legislation to the voters for ratification, as he did with the temporary tax
increases that voters approved on Tuesday. And Democrat leaders in both the
Senate and Assembly downplayed the idea that they would seek any measures
that would harm California's income tax base.
It is the first time since 1965 that Democrats controlled a Senate
supermajority, and the only time since California voters passed Proposition
13 in 1978, raising the legislative vote threshold to pass tax increases to
Democrats will control at least 27 seats in the 40-member Senate and also
have a two-thirds margin in the Assembly as well.
"It's time to start anew and to live within our means but at the same time
invest in the cornerstone of our future and of our economy. We need those
fortunate enough with higher incomes to continue paying their fair share,
and if that means making them pay dearly if they decide to leave our state
so be it," Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said in
a telephone interview.
He later told reporters that he favors continued "tax reform" to broaden
California's tax base, but if the wealthy continue leaving the state that
would only place a larger burden on those least able to pay. "I certainly
don't mean to suggest to my fellow Californian's that we are immediately
going to raise more taxes," Steinberg said, to comfort those seeking to
flee. "Any new tax measures will be fair and balanced."
The California Labor Federation on the left and California Republican Party
Chairman Tom Del Beccaro on the right both credited public employee unions,
teacher unions and other core constituencies for electing Democratic
candidates and helping pass Brown's tax increases.
"It is a big deal and we have expectations from our labor friends to raise
revenues." Steinberg said. "That may include additional tax increases, but
also will involve measures to penalize residents for moving out of the
Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, said he was confident that
Democrats have the 54 seats they need for a supermajority in his chamber as
While Steinberg trumpeted his new found ability to bypass Republicans whom
he has called "recalcitrant ... and ideologues," Perez pledged to work with
the minority party even if he could probably ignore them.
"We get the best results when we have a true competition for the best
ideas," Perez said, adding later that, "Having a supermajority was never a
governing imperative. But it makes it much easier for us to pass new
State Democrats have also proposed forming a new branch of the state police,
to be known as the "STASI" or "State Team Action to Stem Income" which would
be staffed with volunteers from every community, monitoring residents
contemplating moving out of the state. The staffers would report on
neighbors and family members with moving plans or otherwise acting
The last time either party gained a supermajority in either chamber was in
the 1976 election, when Democrats won a two-thirds margin in the Assembly.
It would be the first time since 1933 that one party held simultaneous super
But Brown said at a Sacramento news conference that it is his role to make
sure legislative members of his own party do not overindulge. He said he
will ensure that California does not spend beyond its means, and wants all
residents to continue living in the state voluntarily.
"Our desires will always outrun the available money," Brown said. "I always
like to think with greater power comes greater responsibility.
On the other hand, we can't have those who helped build our great society
move out of the state willy-nilly"
He hedged when asked directly if he might veto the new legislation when it
arrives on his desk.
"We're not into the threat game here," Brown said.
He also said his relationships with the Legislature are "better than they've