Editorial: Achadjian’s approach disappointing

Early on in his political career, Katcho Achadjian’s thoughtful voting record on the Board of Supervisors earned him the well-deserved title of “man in the middle.” Achadjian decided each issue on its own merit, sometimes voting with his fellow conservatives, and other times with liberals.

We had hoped that he would bring that same independence and moderation to the state Assembly. So far, though, we’ve been disappointed by Achadjian’s unilateral approach to solving California’s financial mess.

He issued a statement Monday, calling on lawmakers and the governor to “focus on further reductions in state spending rather than proposing any extension of the 2009 taxes ”

Frankly, the cuts proposed by Brown seem painful enough, but if Achadjian can find additional places to cut — without totally dismantling safety net programs and further undermining our system of education at every level — well, more power to him.

We believe a more realistic approach is to combine significant budget cuts with reasonable tax or fee hikes. Yet Achadjian had already rejected such an approach long before the governor’s budget was released this week.

Even before his election, the Republican lawmaker signed a “no new tax” pledge, despite having told The Tribune editorial board in May that he would not do so.

“I’d rather not make promises when I don’t know what the future will be, 100 percent, “ Achadjian said then.

But as The Sacramento Bee recently reported, that stance made him a target of ridicule from conservative bloggers and anti-taxers, and Achadjian did sign the pledge.

To be sure, he’s not alone. Only two Republicans in the Legislature have declined to sign. One is Sen. Anthony Cannella of Ceres. The other is state Sen. Sam Blakeslee of San Luis Obispo. Good for them.

Pledging to fight all tax increases before they’re even proposed and analyzed makes about as much sense as pledging to oppose any budget cuts. Such vows serve only to deepen the partisan divide in Sacramento, rather than leading to real discussions and an eventual compromise.

Besides, as Blakeslee’s office points out, his record as an advocate of tax reform and a “staunch defender of the taxpayer” is already known.

That should ultimately speak louder — and carry far more weight with voters — than a signature affixed to some boilerplate pledge form.