This editorial appeared in The Sacramento Bee.
Ever since Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor, this early advocate of sunshine has relied on darkness to close a budget deal.
The governor has routinely orchestrated "Big Five" meetings that include the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate and Assembly. All five promise to keep the horse-trading secret, ostensibly to prevent outside interests from seizing on a single item and torpedoing the larger budget deal.
Such closed-door sessions might be tolerable if they came at the end of public process, and were used only to sew up loose threads. They'd be easier to accept if they regularly produced fiscally sound deals that were free of gimmicks and special-interest favors.
But that's not what happens. Last year's Big Five sessions produced a budget that was months late and out of balance before the ink dried. It was slammed through the Legislature in less than 24 hours. Like automatons, legislators voted for bills and budget provisions they hadn't read, unwilling to buck their caucus leaders.
The same pattern is happening again.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Sacramento Bee.