03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Shake the System

You can't build a new house on a cracked foundation. If we're going to put California back on the leading edge, we have to fix our broken system.

Right now, our government is an opaque system of special interest-driven constitutional amendments, archaic legislative rules, and complex ballot initiatives that have created systemic gridlock.

California, the country's most populous state, is governed by a constitution written 120 years ago and yet is already burdened by the weight of more than 500 amendments. Our constitution is eight times longer than the U.S. Constitution.

The product of this convoluted system is a government no longer agile enough to handle a changing economy. This makes the system vulnerable to boom and bust cycles that are becoming more and more frequent.

We are saddled with constraints on budget flexibility and structural deficits before any discretionary spending is even considered. We are on the verge of putting ourselves in a state of perpetual debt with no real way out or ability to invest in our future.

Already this has meant drastic cuts to higher education - once the symbol of California as a land of opportunity. Misplaced budget priorities have also led to deep slashing of vital social services, health care and needed infrastructure investments.

We have allowed California to reach this point. And it is our collective responsibility to fix it.

We have to tear down that foundation and build a new one. It is up to us. I want you to join me in supporting a California constitutional convention and help participate in shaping it.

This is a tremendous opportunity to create real, long-term reform.

Let's repeal the two-thirds vote requirement to pass a budget so a few members of the minority party can't hold up the budget process and California won't have to issue IOUs. Let's consider instituting a more robust rainy day fund, so we save when times are good for those times when things aren't so good. We need to think about a multi-year budget cycle, something that will force the legislature to take a longer view when considering priorities. And it's time to give more local control to counties and municipalities - after all, they know what is best for their communities, and they should have more discretion on how to spend funds.

There is nothing that is stopping us from building a new foundation.

Today, we released a new online ad and started a "wiki" policy group on about a constitutional convention. I have written my thoughts on issues we need to address and a series of questions a constitutional convention should consider.

My hope is that you will visit the group and participate in the discussion. We will be partnering with the folks at for an interactive town hall about a constitutional convention, hosting a "Twitter talk" and holding discussions on the group page.

In a few weeks, after this interactive public comment period, we will release our proposal for a constitutional convention.

If we want to change California, we need to change the system. And that means not just new ideas, but new ways of creating and organizing ideas in the modern world. I hope you will take a few minutes over the coming weeks and participate in this policy "wiki."

Let's build a new foundation that is going to allow us to make our schools the best in the world again, allow us to provide all citizens with healthcare, and allow us to bring the cutting-edge jobs of the future to California.