Use of Facebook and similar social media is ubiquitous these days, since almost three-quarters of adults who use the Internet (and 70% of U.S. businesses) have an account. But a California politician’s blunder earlier this week may serve as a warning for when to use that social media — and when not to.
Rep. Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) was so distracted by posting on Facebook about how he opposed the state’s new budget bill that he apparently voted in the affirmative for that bill by mistake.
That made him the sole Republican to vote for the $117.5 billion spending plan. In fact, it’s the first vote his party has given to a California budget in years.
“My wife is right,” he tweeted a soon time after. “I can’t multitask! Accidentally voted for Budget while Facebooking against AB 93. The perils of social media #CABudget.”
Commentators from across the political spectrum joked that distracting legislators may be the only way to encourage more cross-party cooperation in the heavily blue California legislature. “At long last, we now know how to break down the partisan divide in Sacramento,” Scott Martelle wrote for the Los Angeles Times.
Assembly rules allow legislators to change their votes, so Wilk’s brief and unintentional reach across the aisle won’t show up on the official legislative record. He changed his vote just after the Monday session, drawing applause from his own party and boos from Democrats.
The next day, it was announced that legislative leaders had reached a budget deal with Gov. Jerry Brown for a more modest $115.4 billion.
The governor, a Democrat who has drawn ire from his own party for his relative fiscal conservatism, agreed to increase funding for Medi-Cal (the state’s Medicaid program) to provide health plans for children of undocumented immigrants. But Brown rejected plans that would have increased Medi-Cal payments to doctors and dentists, and stood firm on a welfare cap intended to discourage low-income women from having multiple children.
Still, the new bill is expected to easily pass through the legislature before the new fiscal years begins on July 1 — with or without help from distracted Republicans.