Friday, November 16, 2012 The CSAC Bulletin
Democrat Supermajority Achieved in the New Legislature
There are so many ways to dissect the election last week you could spend thousands of words doing so and still not cover all the bases. However, there is one profound change the election has clearly wrought: both houses in the California Legislature will now have a supermajority of Democrats, giving them the ability to raise taxes, qualify referenda and even override the Governor’s veto power– without input or consent from their Republican counterparts. 

Incumbent Republican Assemblyman Chris Norby conceded Wednesday of this week that his challenger in a newly drawn Orange County district, Sharon Quirk-Silva won the votes necessary to fill the seat. That gives the Democrats 54 seats in the lower house. They hold 26 seats in the Senate—with two vacancies that are likely to go to Democrats. 

However, all three Democratic leaders, Governor Brown, Senate President Pro Tem, Darrell Steinberg, and Assembly Speaker John Perez have all said, to varying degrees, that they plan to use this newly-claimed authority carefully. 

Governor Brown was widely quoted in the media the day after the election cautioning his fellow Democrats to be judicious. "The desires will always outrun the available money," said Brown on Wednesday. "And that’s why we have a governor. If you have a machine that tends to get overheated or speed up, the governor is a mechanism to slow it down."

Senate President Pro Tem Steinberg (D-Sacramento) has echoed that caution. "I certainly don't mean to suggest to my colleagues that the first thing we do is go out and raise more taxes," Steinberg told the Associated Press a couple of days after the election. 

Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles) was initially surprised at the supermajority in his house. He has since pledged to continue working with the Republican minority. "We get the best results when we have a true competition for the best ideas," Perez told the Associated Press. "Having a supermajority was never a governing imperative. It's sitting down and doing the hard work."

It is also recognized that the “moderate caucus” will emerge as a significant player in achieving the two-thirds vote in both houses. CSAC staff is discussing the legislative priorities for the Association and strategy for the coming session with these changing dynamics in mind.