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David Latt

David Latt

Posted: May 21, 2009 10:30 AM

The Governator Gets It Wrong Again


No, no, no, Governor, with all due respect, the special election results DO NOT validate your position. The voters DO NOT want you to slash and burn your way through state services with your famously dull 10%-to-all-departments axe.

With the propositions defeated, what conclusions can be drawn about what the people want? Pundits and politicians are cherry picking the election results, looking for details they think support their own parochial views. The real question is, why did the Governor and legislature use the referendum process to solve the budget impasse?

Putting complex budget questions to a popular vote acknowledged the dysfunction of the legislative process. With a requirement that 2/3 of the legislature approve the budget, the minority party can obstruct reasonable compromises and bring the process of running the state to a screeching halt.

In truth, what Californians have just witnessed is nothing unique. The dysfunctional process happens every year. The economic downturn has exacerbated the scale of the problems but the system has failed to function as it fails to function every year.

The minority uses the 2/3s requirement to justify their refusal to engage with the Democratic majority. They stand at the back of the room, arms folded, angry expressions on their faces, willing the process to grind to a halt. They assume their position of power even though they lack a voter mandate. They pretend to a moral authority that is entirely self-proclaimed. They vindictively strike out at their own members who dare to break ranks and attempt constructive dialogue.

The party of weakness uses the 2/3s provision to give themselves a bully pulpit with which to punish the state.

In theory, a Republican governor could have helped the process. His minority party could have felt empowered which could have led to their actually being engaged in the budgeting process. In theory, a popular personality like Schwarzenegger could have used his movie star charisma to bring people together. In theory...well, theories didn't amount to much in this case.

What California got was more egotistical posturing and blustering. And now the Governator stands ready to swing his mighty axe, saying he's ready to do the people's bidding. Does he really believe that the people want him to slash his way through public safety programs and deny support to schools and health care?

California deserves better.

California is a great state, with incredible resources. We need elected officials who are willing to stay out of the pundit glare and do the honestly difficult work of governance. We need a system that doesn't empower an embittered minority to prevent intelligent consideration of complex issues.

California needs to end the 2/3s requirement as soon as possible.

And the Governor...he needs to stop giving interviews, stop traveling out of state, and stop acting like a politician and actually do the honest work of governing by bringing together disparate factions and creating sensible solutions.