02 July 2009

Dump the California Constitution

So, the state of California ran out of money on Tuesday and is now issuing IOUs to pay its bills. I've lived here for nine years now and I can't remember a year in which California was not having budget problems. They were never as big as they are right now, but the problems incredibly led to the recall of Gov. Gray Davis in 2003 and have kept Gov. Schwarzenegger's approval ratings in the toilet, causing him to bow out of what was an expected 2010 U.S. Senate race against Barbara Boxer.

Yes, spending needs to be controlled. Yes, taxes need to be raised. But with California's dreadful rule requiring a 2/3 vote of the legislature on budget matters (by constitutional amendment, mind you), and neither Republicans or Democrats willing to move from their respective positions, it is no wonder the state didn't go belly up years ago.

The governor and both houses of the legislature will keep running through this tiresome loop of hoop-jumping, California's citizens will keep bitching and moaning over the inability of the state government to get anything done, and they will all keep voting the imbeciles back into office.

The only way to fix the problem is to scrap the current over-amended state constitution, conduct a constitutional convention, and write a brand new document. The new constitution should give each branch of the legislature the ability to vote on budget matters with a simple majority. To give the minority party a voice at the table, a provision should be made to grant filibuster power in the state senate, and a line-item veto to the governor. More importantly, a new state constitution should require that it take more than a simple majority statewide ballot vote to amend it. A new state document should require amendments be placed with a 2/3 vote of both houses of the legislature and either 2/3 (66.66%) or 3/5 (60%) of the vote on a statewide ballot.

The current constitution has been amended over 500 times. At some point (I'd say around amendment # 100 or so), the document simply seized to exist in its original form.

So why not throw it out and write a new one?