Experts Expound

Experts Expound

“The state’s fiscal mess is getting worse and, amid partisan rhetoric, nothing is happening. What exactly is wrong in Sacramento?”

Per diem pay for legislators.

The former Speaker of the Assembly just used the revolving door unlike anyone in Legislative history …and then claims he didn’t know the position was paid.  Right, and Samuelian was actually looking for the Farm Bureau.

Umm…hello…we’re spending too much money.

It would be easier and take far less space to say what is right in Sacramento — or would that be correct, politically?

There is no public consensus on a budget solution. There is not a 2/3 vote to increase taxes. There is not a 2/3 vote to cut spending. No one will like voting for whatever solution eventually emerges….

The problems are different for Republicans and Democrats.  The gerrymandered Republican districts produce legislators vulnerable to conservative, anti-government activists.  The Democrats face no problems from their ill-informed gerrymandered districts but have forgotten they are the bosses of the special interests, not the other way around.  It is particularly acute for labor and environmental interests, which have virtual veto power over the Democratic leadership on budget issues.

There is not the kind of creative thinking that there needs to be. For instance, revising the whole tax structure to a flat tax would work wonders for the government but they are afraid. It is working so well in Eastern bloc countries that some of them have lowered the rate. It also makes things fair. If we continue to do things the way we have always done them we can only expect the same result we’ve always had. Change is good. Change happens.

The problem is not that the legislators are cynical calculators of political advantage.  The problem is that Republicans and Democrats have sincere and principled differences about the role of state government.

You want to think Republicans are squirreled away with their staff, striving to honestly deal with the state's fiscal morass without violating their ideology. But it's getting harder to give them the benefit of the doubt. Publicly, they seem detached from reality, their behavior punctuated by flights of rhetorical jibberish — by definition, a kind of collective insanity. Unfortunately, they hold the cards.

Even the most liberal of legislators struggle to do the right thing in the face of pressure from labor to do their bidding.

Collegiality has broken down completely. No one trusts one another. The various interest groups and even legislators themselves don’t define a win as collaborating on good public policy, but on how well they screw their opponents. In short, Sacramento is effed up.

Same thing that’s been wrong the past 20 years or so. Fanatical Republicans, who believe it’s in their self-interest to make government fail, are making sure it does.

Repeal the two-thirds vote requirement and this mess goes away.

Too few moderates; too many extremists (on both the left and right).

If the governor and legislators truly represent the will of the voters they represent, then there is nothing wrong in Sacramento. The voters are getting the government they chose at the ballot box. By rewarding the simplicity of “no cuts” or “no taxes” over tough solutions, true leadership has become a sure way to lose an election in California. Prop. 11 will just amplify this phenomenon.

Partisan rhetoric — and blitheful disregard of any personal responsibility for the mess or the need to solve it.

Business as usual and partisan gridlock and posturing won’t work. They have yet to realize it. Hands are tied with propositions and formulaic spending and no one knows what to do. They need to get serious and consider all options. Leadership would be nice.

Andrew Acosta, A.G. Block, Elizabeth Ashford, Mark Bogetich, Barry Brokaw, Morgan Crinklaw, J Dale Debber, Peter DeMarco, Jim Evans, Kathy Fairbanks, Jeff Fuller, Rex Frazier, Ken Gibson, Evan Goldberg, Deborah Gonzalez, Sandy Harrison, Bob Hertzberg, Jason Kinney, Mike Madrid, Nicole Mahrt, Steve Maviglio,  Adam Mendelsohn, Barbara O’Connor, Bill Packer, Kassy Perry, Jack Pitney, Adam Probolsky, Tony Quinn, Matt Rexroad, Matt Ross, Roger Salazar, Dan Schnur, Will Shuck, Ralph Simoni, Sam Sorich, Ray Sotero, Garry South, Kevin Spillane, Rich Zeiger.

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