California Proposition 56, Lower Threshold Required to Pass the State Budget (March 2004)

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Proposition 56 was on the March 2, 2004 primary ballot in California as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was defeated.

Proposition 56 was intended to penalize members of the California State Legislature for every day that the state budget is overdue. The proposition would also have lowered the threshold required pass a budget and enact new budget-related taxes to 55% from the 2/3 vote currently required. The 2/3 supermajority was created with the passage of California Proposition 13 in 1978. Proposition 56 was officially known as the Budget Accountability Act.

Donations to pass the measure exceeded $15.8 million, while donations to defeat the measure were in the range of $9.4 million.

Election results

Proposition 56
Defeatedd No4,183,18865.7%
Yes 2,185,868 34.3%

Constitutional changes

If Proposition 56 had been approved, it would have amended Section 12 of Article IV of the California Constitution.

Text of measure

Overview of Proposition 56's provisions, prepared by the LAO


The ballot title was:

State Budget, Related Taxes, and Reserve. Voting Requirements. Penalties.
Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.


The question on the ballot was:

"Should the State Constitution and certain statutes be amended to allow the state legislature to pass the state budget and budget-related tax and appropriation bills with a 55 percent vote, and to make other changes to the budget process?"


The summary of the ballot measure prepared by the California Attorney General said:

  • Permits Legislature to enact budget and budget-related tax and appropriation bills with 55% vote rather than 2/3 vote currently required.
  • Requires that Legislature, Governor permanently lose salary, expenses for each day budget is late.
  • Requires that Legislature stay in session until budget is passed.
  • Requires budget summary in state ballot pamphlet and link to Internet website with legislators' voting records on budget and related taxes.
  • Requires 25% of certain state revenue increases be deposited in reserve fund, which cannot be used to increase spending.

Fiscal impact

See also: Fiscal impact statement

The fiscal estimate provided by the California Legislative Analyst's Office said:

  • This measure would have varying state fiscal impacts from lowering the legislative vote requirement for budget-related spending and tax increases - including changes in spending and potentially significant increases in state tax revenues in some years. Fiscal impacts would depend primarily on the composition and actions of future Legislatures.


The primary financial supporters of Proposition 56 were SEIU/the California State Council of Service Employees at $9 million, and the California Teachers Association at $2.2 million.

The ballot arguments in favor of Proposition 56 were signed by:


The ballot arguments opposing Proposition 56 were signed by:

The California Republican Party gave $750,000 to defeat it.

See also

External links