The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

December 6, 2010
On spending, watch what lawmakers do, not what they say

It's worth noting the painful irony today for California taxpayers.

The new Legislature began a special session called by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to fill the $6 billion hole in the current state budget.

At the same time, mail balloting started for the special election Jan. 4 in the 1st Senate District.

Lawmakers flubbed a chance to save cash-strapped counties some real money by not allowing mail-only balloting for the race, which is not likely to be competitive because it is a Republican stronghold.

Instead, election registrars will have to open polling places just like they did Nov. 2, even though a tiny fraction of the electorate will turn out.

On Nov. 2, no candidate won a clear majority in the battle to replace Dave Cox, a Fair Oaks Republican who died last July. Assemblyman Ted Gaines of Roseville was the top vote-getter with 34 percent and finished first among Republican candidates to advance to Jan. 4, when he'll face Democrat Ken Cooley, mayor of Rancho Cordova.

Voters can be forgiven if that election slipped their minds during the holiday rush. It wouldn't be a shocker if many forget about the balloting on Jan. 4, as well, especially if the weather is bad.

Mail-only balloting could have saved Sacramento County about $250,000 and El Dorado County some $55,000. But no one in the Legislature would carry the bill, even though the two counties in the district with the fewest voters already do all their elections by mail and a large proportion of voters in other counties mail in their ballots.

It's ridiculous - and it's a reminder for taxpayers to be very skeptical whenever lawmakers claim they're all about saving money.

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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