Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 7, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

GOVERNING BY INITIATIVE....This isn't really a surprise, but it's bad news anyway. Having failed to get his way with the legislature after five whole days of negotiation, Arnold is planning to simply ignore them and govern by initiative instead:

[His] campaign would take to the ballot possibly more than a half-dozen measures sponsored by Schwarzenegger and various groups aligned with him. Included would be a constitutional amendment for a balanced budget and spending cap, and a package of changes in the state's workers compensation system, according to a Schwarzenegger adviser.

The governor may also promote constitutional amendments making government more open and restricting fund-raising during the budget season; an initiative to change how the state draws legislative and congressional district boundaries, a gambling measure and a referendum on health care.

It's true that the California legislature is pretty dysfunctional, but the California electorate is, if anything, even more dysfunctional. California is already hogtied by way too much day-to-day operating stuff that's mandated by the constitution, and the last thing we need is to make this the default method of governing just because Arnold is pissed off that the legislature hasn't passed his entire wishlist completely intact within his first three weeks.

But I guess there's a bright side: if Arnold really does manage to get all these initiatives on the ballot it might finally bring on a serious case of referendum fatigue among the electorate. Who knows: maybe we'd vote down the lot of 'em and send a message that we're tired of amending the constitution for every pet project that comes down the pike. That might actually make this whole charade worth it.

Kevin Drum 8:26 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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