Friday Feedback: Don’t Take Budget Mess to the People

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Every Friday the LA Progressive features a comment that was particularly noteworthy. This week we are featuring a comment submitted by Linda Doran, writing in response to “Ending the Annual Budget Impasse Ritual” by Richard M. Mathews.

Linda writes:

The intent behind this suggestion is laudable, but in my opinion, the threat of taking the budget to the people in the event of a disagreement would only exasperate the situation further. We already have a situation in which a minority party can prevent passage of a budget. Allowing the minority to delay the process further, repeatedly take center stage, and change the subject rather than taking care of the business at hand would be unconscionable. This kind of behavior results in a sabotage of government that reminds me of the Weimar Republic’s inability to govern prior to the rise of the Nazi Party.

As residents, we suffer the consequences each time the California Legislature is unable to achieve a two-thirds majority to pass a budget. Dragging the process out further by using, or threatening to use, the initiative process with its multiple ballot measures, countermeasures, and legal challenges to all the measures is not a solution.

The intent behind the referendum system is to give the people recourse when they perceive the Legislature as being unresponsive to their needs, not to give the Legislature recourse when its members can’t do their job. As voters, we delegate the responsibility of governing to our elected officials. We rely on them to gather as much information as possible, negotiate agreements, and vote responsibly based on what they perceive to be best. One of the benefits of having a legislature is that we don’t have a public free-for-all every time a decision has to be made.

What we need in California is a system that neither allows a minority to hold everyone else hostage nor allows legislators to cop out of the process, which is what the current system permits minority members to do whenever they don’t get their way. What we need is a simple majority to pass a budget. That requires a change to the state Constitution, which requires — you guessed it — a ballot measure, by the people, of the people, and for the people.

Thanks for reading.

From Ending the Annual Budget Impasse Ritual, 2009/03/01 at 9:51 A

Published by the LA Progressive on March 6, 2009
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