Initiatives—The System Is Broken
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November 06, 2008, 10:27 AM
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Every year in California, we get to vote on about a dozen initiatives, most of which we voters are completely clueless about. I`m not talking about the much publicized gay marriage one — everybody is entitled to an opinion on that. It`s all the bond issues. Shall we issue $10 billion in bonds for a supertrain from LA to SF? How about $7 billion to removes asbestos from LA schools? (I think they both passed. I`m too depressed to look them up.)

Sure, why not? They`re bonds, right, not taxes? So we won`t have to pay them. I guess, theoretically, we`re supposed to pay them sometime, but no doubt we`ll just flip the state to a greater fool before that happens.

Obviously, the initiative system is broken. The state is completely broke, with a predicted illegal shortfall of $25 billion next year in the state budget. Yet voters are continuing to take on debt with no idea how it will be paid. This is the state that sank the world economy. We`re too childish to have that kind of spending power.

The way to fix it is to put a dollar limit on spending mandates for initiatives, such as $100 million, say. Then you could still have initiatives about important issues such as racial preferences or redistricting, but big ticket items would have to be hashed out as part of the budget process by the legislature.