California’s budget has a lot of challenges. If you’ve made it this far, you have an idea of the complex dynamics of a California state budget. Solving it isn’t going to be simple. And it has to be worked out within a legislative process, among legislators from all the different districts of one of the most diverse populations on the planet. (Remember all those immigrants?) If that doesn’t raise your eyebrows, consider this: it takes two thirds of these lucky politicians to pass the budgets. Is it any wonder that in recent years the state budget hasn’t passed until months after the fiscal year is over?
This year’s budget passed early – thanks to the hard work of Arnold and other Sacramento leaders — but it includes higher taxes, certain to be painful. Already our friends at the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association are running ads on the radio. Pundits like Hanson are claiming we’re committing “suicide.” But I’m encouraged, all the same. Instead of spending all year figuring out how to pay the bills for the next year, now our legislators can look at some systemic problems, and make real change.
I have two suggestions to get us started:
- Let’s put a 2/3 majority requirement on all ballot initiatives. It’s just too easy for We The Short-Sighted People to implement long-term financial constraints and obligations, like Proposition 13’s constitutional property tax limits and the innumerable bond interest payments. We The People should have the same high barriers as our legislators have when they work to pass a state budget for the upcoming year.
- Let’s put an end to term limits. There are no term limits on We The People, the armchair legislators passing all these initiatives. There are no term limits on the special interest groups that put the initiatives on the ballots. Why do we do this to our professional lawmakers? Perhaps it’s my bias, coming from a state who had the same senator in Congress for more than 40 years, but I like my government representatives to have a long-term view. It takes a long time to understand all the dynamics at work in California – just look at how long this blog entry has taken, and I’m just a regular citizen. We need to be able to re-elect folks that have figured out how to do a good job running this state. Removing term limits isn’t coronation – we can still vote them out of office when someone better comes along.
Solving California’s budget is a hard, complicated problem. Let’s keep it in the hands of the people we can hold accountable. With the right cooks in the kitchen, I’m certain we can change California’s budget recipe from a shocking disaster to successful innovation. Combining the best ideas and people, from our native and immigrant population, we’re sure to eventually get the recipe right.