Monday, June 18, 2012

California's Dysfunctional Government

This is not an exaggeration:
June 5 was the first election that used the “top two” primary system, a form of open primary designed specifically to elect more candidates who resemble former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who helped advance the idea. He was one of least effective and least principled Republicans to attain higher office in recent years, so let this serve as a warning about what is to come.

The election also took place under new districts drawn under a supposedly apolitical redistricting system.

After the smoke cleared, we find these results: Top two has obliterated minor parties, and assured that the ideas they bring in the general election, will not get a fair hearing. In many legislative races, the general election will pit two members of the party against each other, which is part of the system’s design. Top two is supposed to promote greater choice, but voters will have fewer choices.

Top two is supposed to reduce the influence of big money, but record amounts were spent in the primary cycle. It will only increase the power of moneyed interests. Now candidates will need to run in two open, general elections, rather than in a narrow primary and then in a general, in what typically is a safe seat. That takes a lot more money to win than it did before. Who do you think will provide it?

Redistricting was supposed to take the politics out of politics, but media reports proved that Republicans improperly vetted the redistricting commission members, allowing on the panel agenda-driven lefties.

Between the two “reforms,” it’s clear what will happen: Democrats are likely to gain a rock-solid two-thirds majority in both houses of the Legislature, where they can then have the power to raise taxes at will. Another “moderate” reform has also gone into effect—the elimination of the two-thirds vote requirement to pass state budgets. We can already see what has happened as a result of that change. In this cycle, Republicans don’t have a say in the process, because Democrats no longer need to rely on their votes to pass their budgets.

I’m not sure how giving only one party and its most extreme elements unchecked power to pass budgets is in any way a moderate idea.

There is nothing "moderate" about California's government.

Update: Don't trust Reason?  How about the San Francisco Chronicle?
In 2010, the California electorate approved Proposition 25, which required that lawmakers lose their pay if they fail to pass a budget by June 15, and also made it easier for the Legislature to approve a spending plan by lowering the vote threshold from two-thirds to a simple majority.

That enabled Democrats last year and on Friday to pass a spending plan without a single Republican vote. Although last year members of the minority party were a key part of budget talks, this year their involvement was almost nonexistent.

That's because last year Gov. Jerry Brown wanted lawmakers to place a tax measure on the ballot, which required a two-thirds majority vote that could not be achieved without some Republican support. GOP lawmakers, however, refused to give Brown the votes he needed. So this year, the governor bypassed the Legislature and opted for an initiative, collecting voter signatures to place the tax increase on the ballot.
Thus, GOP leaders essentially became irrelevant in budget negotiations and were excluded as Democratic lawmakers and Brown worked to hammer out details of the new spending plan. Every Republican lawmaker voted against the plan, and it passed anyway.

Critics say the change in law has resulted in an opaque, secretive budget process, but one thing is clear: Gone are the days of budget deadlocks dragging into the fall. Majority Democrats no longer have to court a handful of GOP legislators for their votes, votes that were often obtained in exchange for concessions unrelated to the budget. 
At best we've exchanged one problem for another.  At worst--well, you know.

1 comment:

MikeAT said...

Louisiana has had this for decades. One of the results was in 1991 you had the choice of the crook Edwards and the Klansman Duke.

The outgoing governor said "Go into the voting booth, hold your nose and vote for Edwin Edwards."