Saturday, May 16, 2009
Win or (more likely) lose, the day after the props' election—May 20—will see state reform debates explode again.
This piece from The Economist looks at the bad, the getting less ugly, and cites two current paths to change, quick vs. incremental—and how to protect a constitutional convention against an extremist breakdown:
California: The Ungovernable State
... To address these concerns, the Bay Area Council, which has become the driving force behind the [new constitution] scheme, has put forth two ideas. First, delegates to the convention should be chosen through the general jury pool to ensure that the whole population, as opposed to partisans or voters, is represented. Second, the scope of the constitutional convention would be explicitly limited to governance issues and the budget mechanism and would exclude all others.
This should enable reform in the most vital and interconnected areas. These are: reducing the two-thirds requirement for budgets and taxes; mandating two-year as opposed to annual budgets; giving local governments more access to local revenues; creating less partisan districts and primary elections; disciplining the process of direct democracy with new rules about signature collection; and introducing a “sunset” commission, as Texas has, that would gradually retire overlapping jurisdictions and offices to achieve something more manageable.
The plan is to introduce voter initiatives in next year’s ballot calling for a constitutional convention, to have the convention the following year, and to put the new constitution on a ballot in 2012, when it would take effect. In the meantime both the incrementalists, such as California Forward, and the wholesale reformers, such as the Bay Area Council, are backing the propositions on next week’s ballot. Even if they succeed, this would only temporarily reduce the urgency for radical reform; failure would cause intolerable pain.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Governor' budget cuts schools, borrows billions
Five days before voters decide the fate of his budget-related ballot measures, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Thursday unveiled plans to close a huge budget deficit with deeper cuts in education and health programs and by borrowing billions more dollars.