California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill Saturday that would have mandated certain cities in the state to create independent redistricting commissions for local elections.
The bill, Assembly Bill 1248, would have required cities and counties of over 300,000 residents or school or community college districts with 500,000 residents to comply with its provisions.
AB 1248 came as a result of the 2020 redistricting cycle, in which California had allowed temporary independent control over redistricting. According to the California Assembly, allowing independent commissions to make districting decisions led to “better outcomes for communities in terms of fairness, transparency, public engagement, and representation.”
In addition to creating the commissions, the bill outlined regulations that the commissions would have had to follow to ensure fairness in district creation, including requirements that the commission’s members be politically diverse and representative of the community.
Despite the California Senate voting to pass the bill, Governor Newsom exercised his veto power and refused to sign it. In a public statement released on Saturday, Newsom explained his hesitations as being purely monetary.
While I share the author’s goal of ensuring community control over the redistricting process, this bill creates a state-reimbursable mandate in the tens of millions and should therefore be considered in the annual budget process.
In partnership with the Legislature, we enacted a budget that closed a shortfall of more than $30 billion through balanced solutions that avoided deep program cuts and protected education, health care, climate, public safety, and social service programs that are relied on by millions of Californians. This year, however, the Legislature sent me bills outside of this budget process that, if all enacted, would add nearly $19 billion of unaccounted costs in the budget, of which $11 billion would be ongoing.
With our state facing continuing economic risk and revenue uncertainty, it is important to remain disciplined when considering bills with significant fiscal implications, such as this measure.
The school districting bill isn’t the only one that Newsom vetoed on Saturday. In total, Newsom made decisions to either sign or veto over 100 Senate and Assembly bills on the docket for California. For most of the bills that were vetoed, Newsom echoed similar messages, citing budgetary restrictions.