When the Legislature hit the magical 2/3 mark after the November 2012 election, a lot of progressives started dreaming big. Prop 30 just passed, and a statement had been made for a progressive vision of California. A majority of Californians had just voted to raise their taxes. Whether thanks to the strong field campaign around Prop 32 or through changing demographics of a presidential election, the Democrats gained big on the Legislative front.
But muddying these waters was a lot of mixed messaging. Gov. Brown had at least signaled that he thought Prop 30 was the only tax revenue measure that we should pass for a while, and some of the Democratic legislators had more or less said the same thing.
On the other side, the dreams were building for those who focused less on the immediate political future and more on the long term progressive vision. Progressive leaders were looking at Prop 13 reform, oil severance taxes, minimum wage increases and more. A lot of powder has been kept dry over the past few years with the constant budget fight, and with that superminority concern out of the way, some looked to really mount the pressure. And to be clear, they have mounted a lot of pressure. I've seen enough of these discussions between progressive leaders and legislators to know that the pressure on them is real.
"The supermajority is something that you have to use it or lose it," said Rick Jacobs, head of the 750,000-member Courage Campaign, which has been at the liberal vanguard of several grassroots and online campaigns. "It is time to be bold. What is anybody afraid of?" (SF Chronicle)
To some extent, this is about two competing theories of politics. One says that you have a limited supply of "capital." Under this model, you can only expect to do so much progress on the legislative front. Gov. Brown is pushing for a gradual and slow movement that prioritizes consensus and getting buy in from as many as possible. On the other hand, progressives tend to favor an idea of politics that promotes efficiency. You get into it what you put in kind of thing. Voters will respect action, even if they don't get every component right away.
But for now, Speaker Perez and Sen. Steinberg seem to be of the same mind as the Governor. They're taking it slow for the time being. Steinberg has said that he doesn't plan on [touching Prop 13 this year, and Speaker Perez thinks this is just the beginning of a larger fight.
Even though Democrats could override Brown's veto with their two-thirds majority, "a lot of Democrats from more conservative areas don't want to vote to raise taxes because they know it would kill them in their districts," said Steve Maviglio, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker John Pérez.
Plus, say Democratic leaders, it is still relatively early in the legislative calendar. Budget negotiations are just beginning.
"C'mon, it's only the second inning. There's a lot of time left in the session," said Maviglio. "We're moving forward on a lot of bills that are friendly to labor and progressives.
"I would tell some of the people who are saying these things to just relax," Maviglio said.(SF Chronicle)
Now, perhaps that last sentence could be more eloquently phrased, but Mr. Maviglio speaks of building a long term progressive supermajority in the Legislature. It's a laudable goal by any Democratic perspective, but getting everybody on the same page isn't necessarily the easiest task, even within the same party.
This piece first appeared in calitics.com