Is California’s Broken Government Beyond Repair?

May 16, 2009

(ChattahBox)—A recent article in The Economist’s print edition claims California has reached the point where it’s an ungovernable state, which requires drastic action to fix it, such as writing a completely new state constitution to address the realities of governing the largest state in the union in the twenty-first century.

The article notes that California’s financially bankrupt and deadlocked government has reached crisis levels, from a deadly storm of out of control voter initiatives and referendums, combined with a legislature that can’t pass a simple state budget.

The problems with governance in the diverse State of California are legion and getting worse. With the entire nation experiencing tough economic times, most state governments have stepped up to the plate and made the hard decisions to keep the everyday services in place that citizens depend on. That’s not the case with California’s government.

The recession has served to expose all that’s wrong with California’s way of governing, which barely functions in good times. The deepening recession has brought the state’s government to a standstill, placing basic services like, fire fighting and police protection in real peril.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has already announced that the state’s finances are so dire; he plans to release thousands of criminals from prisons before their sentences are up, to save money.

The voters are about to vote on May 19, on a set of ballot measures to keep the state afloat financially, which were needed because the lawmakers once again, were unable to pass a state budget in February.

Governor Schwarzenegger informed the lawmakers that even if all the ballot measures pass, the state would still be $15.4 billion in debt, as opposed to $21.3 billion if they fail. And the crazy part is, many voters plan to vote against the ballot measures, ensuring deep and drastic cuts in essential services.

The Economist laid out its case explaining how the state of California reached such crisis levels, bringing governance to a standstill. The fault partly lies in California’s unique laws requiring a two-thirds majority in both houses to pass not only budgets, but tax increases as well, virtually ensuring complete dysfunction, with nothing ever getting passed.

To top off the problems in the legislature, California also has befallen to an out of control voter initiative and referendum system that has been hijacked by big money lobbyists and special interest groups.

If that weren’t enough, the problems don’t stop there. California’s partisan gerrymandering of voter districts, ensures that only the extremists from both parties are elected, resulting in an absence of necessary moderates in the legislature who can broker deals between the two parties.

Many voters have tuned most of the government noise out and no longer bother going to the polls to vote, making California one of the top states with the lowest voter turnouts, year after year.

The debate is raging in the beleaguered state between those who propose incremental changes and reform to fix California’s broken system and others who call for a complete overhaul of the constitution starting from scratch.

The powerful Bay Area Council has called for a constitutional convention to rewrite the state’s constitution from top to bottom; a measure Governor Schwarzenegger supports.

Whatever happens, one thing is for sure; the State of California is in for some very tough times and the situation is expected to significantly worsen before it improves.


3 Responses to “Is California’s Broken Government Beyond Repair?”

  1. Brittancus on May 16th, 2009 6:09 pm

    The invasion of illegal immigrants into the state of California, has much to do with the monolithic budget meltdown. Learn the truth from City councilor Andronovich stated that $ 11. billion can be attributed to every illegal alien, who breaks into America, get a free lunch on the taxpayers in Los Angeles county. That’s just Los Angeles? What about the rest of the state? How about the taxes extracted from every American, throughout AMERICA? My concern and thousands of other citizens and legal residents is how many—ILLEGAL ALIENS—are voting in elections, when no governmental ID is needed to prove immigration status. Simply recognize that California is a—SANCTUARY STATE—and by removing millions of illegal immigrants and their families will assist on balancing the budget.

    So vote—NO–on all propositions as you are supporting parasite businesses that hire illegal cheap labor. The Liberal Assembly in Sacramento has allowed foreign labor to settle here and now the Piper must be paid. Taxpayers are unknowingly paying billions of dollars in State benefits to underwrite education, health care, housing and other benefits and now has the highest taxes in the nation? If we don’t draw the line now–the politicians will keep drawing more and more blood from us, in the form of raised taxes. Demand a permanent E-Verify workplace extraction tool now. Learn more at NUMBERSUSA, JUDICIALWATCH.

  2. Pacificvs on May 19th, 2009 3:40 pm

    Having some sort of legislative check on runaway spending is common sense. The 2/3 budget rule, however, is the law of the land and it failed to prevent the current crisis. And there exists a good argument that it made it worse: because the budget agreements are always delayed while legislators try to find the votes necessary to pass it, the delays cause expensive halts in services and delays in projects which is more expensive than just paying up front.

    In reality, the 2/3 rule is either useless or destructive. Useless in that it was unable to prevent the current crisis, destructive in that it actually results in more spending. Anyway you dice it, the 2/3 rule is bizarre: only two other states have such a rule. California should join the majority of states and adopt proven ways to limit spending instead of grasping to this discredited approach.

  3. Wilma Broer on December 13th, 2009 1:01 pm

    i am an architect, born in Canada now working/.living in the Netherlands:
    our motto is you ‘are able’ to pay high taxes only if you are rich.

    the opposite value system is American:
    -if there is one thing that i find astonishing is the ‘American pride’ about paying low taxes. I would think it very embarrasing to know that a pickup truck goes and finds cheap (illegal)building labour, or that many homes are kept clean by Mexican mothers (who have their own children to take care of). The American economy has become one with the immegrants, and is now dependent upon them.
    Paying taxes helps even out the differences between rich and poor. So long that amercans are proud (and happy) paying little taxes, there will never be any movement forward. along with a minimum wage where one can actually pay all the bills.
    if you asked me, America is a very sad country. No wonder there are so many rich people in a country that is broke. the mentality there sucks big time!

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