California is broken. Broken very badly. Our government might be the most disfunctional in the nation. Something, or several things need to be done to set California on a more manageable path. Here's a list of things I think would help us regain our balance.
1. Do Away With The 2/3 Requirement- CA is one of only three states to require a 2/3 majority to pass a budget. This lets a small group of legislators hold the budget hostage till they get what they want. It also increases pork, as individual legislators can ask for spending in their district in exchange for their vote on the budget; this is easier to do with a 2/3 majority, where each and every vote pass a certain point has to be scrounged. Yet another advantage is that it would increase accountability. As it is now, the majority party can blame the minority party for holding the budget hostage. The minority party can point our they're not in power, so aren't responsible. So no one can take full blame for the budget if it's late or a mess.
2. Repeal Term Limits- Term limits for the Legislator has been a great idea in theory, but horrible in practice. It leads to increased short-sightedness in legislators- after all, they're not going to be there in 8 years, so why do they care about the long-term effects of something? It also cycles out the best talent, the people who really know how to get things done, leaving to a more inexperienced, incompetent, legislatures. To say nothing of the musical chairs it causes.
3.Modify Prop. 13- Prop 13, which lowered property taxes, has led to problems that Howard Jarvis probably never considered. A business opened in 1980 still pays property taxes as it was evaluated in 1980. These rates should be updated every decade or so. A coffee shop opened in 1980 still pays lower taxes based on its evaluation thirty years ago, while a coffee shop that opened in 2009 pays taxes based on the current value of the land, driving up their prices and keeping the prices at the first coffee shop artificially low. This needs to be changed.
4. Reform the Initiative Process- California probably has the most abused initiative processes in the nation. Every election we get 10 or more initiatives, often put on the ballot by special interests who don't get what they want from the legislatures. This leads to people voting on issues that they don't always know enough about, often without looking at the broader scope of the issue or the state of things. When Governor Hiram Johnson got the initiative process passed in the state, he intended it as a "gun behind the door" to use in case the power of the legislature needed to be kept in check. It was never meant to be used for special interests to bypass the legislature. Something needs to be done to bring the process back in line for its original intent. I can start another thread to discuss details of this if people like, but the main point is something needs to be done.
5. Remove Autopilot Formulas- Our state constitution is chock full of auto-pilot formulas mandating specific amounts of money get spent on all sorts of programs regardless of the big picture. These programs need to be removed from the constitution, or at least reduced. I've heard it put that the state legislature only controls something like 7% of the budget. We need more flexibility.
Now there's ways to do these changes, such as a constitutional convention, or a initiative packet, but most important is just that something gets done. Thoughts?