Saturday, May 23, 2009

Wanna Solve The Crisis Of Governing In California? Return To A Part-Time Legislatue

In 1966, the same year that a retired actor named Ronald Reagan was elected governor in a Republican landslide year, the voters of California passed legislation that forever changed the way that California was governed.
The legislation was Proposition 1A and it was on the same general election ballot that Mr. Reagan was on with a still popular Democrat governor, Edmund "Pat" Brown, father of Moonbeam Jerry Brown. Why, both men supported this measure. It was an act of increasing government by then Assembly Speaker Jesse "Big Daddy" Unruh.
What was Prop 1A?
It was the act that made the California legislature a full-time legislature.
Previously the state legislature met in even-numbered years to consider general legislation and odd-numbered years to deal with the budget. And it was limited in duration.
But, Prop 1A changed that to a legislature that could meet all it wanted and consider any legislation within the two-year period between elections.
And that is not all.
It let the state legislators determine their own salaries and compensation. So long as it was by a two-thirds vote of both the state assembly and senate.
And that, my friends, was the beginning of the end of sane governance in California.
The irony is that the voters were promised that there would be better, less corrupt and more "professional" legislators.
That has worked out real well.
We have a bunch of two-year old babies in suits that do not want to deal with reality in the current state budget fiasco. These dolts prefer to blame us, the voters, for creating the budget mess in the first place.
Again, really?!
I do not think that the voters negotiated unrealistic contracts with state employee unions.
I do not think that the voters keep inefficient boards and commissions in which former politicians are paid outrageous salaries to do little, if any work.
I do not think that the voters are to blame for a state government that does not encourage efficiency over increasing state employees and lining the political pockets.
I do not think that the voters are to blame who want people to not stay in the same seat until they die. Voters wanted term limits because they wanted to have a chance at electing new people to seats in the assembly and senate.
So, the question is this.
What has a full-time legislature done for us, the citizens of California?
Gotten us into one helluva mess and not wanting to do some painful, yet necessary cuts and reforms that could alleviate this in the future.
Note this about our state legislature.
They are the highest paid state legislators in the United States.
A member of the state legislature makes $116,208 a year plus $170 per Diem. And, if one is a leader such as a party leader, tack on another $16,964 a year. The governor makes $212,179 a year. So, if a legislator in the state assembly stays for three, two-year terms, a total of six years, they can make, not counting the $170 per Diem, $697,248. And if one is a two-term state senator, that comes out to $929,664.
In the private sector, these dolts would have been fired long ago for waste and inefficiency.
Here is a solution.
Revert back to the part-time legislature. The legislature meets in even-years for four months to consider general legislation. In odd-years, three months to consider a two-year budget, not an annual budget. Cut the salaries of the legislators to $50,000 a year and $75 per Diem. Allow the elected officials to work in their given professions the rest of the year. As long as there is not a conflict of interest in legislation before either house. Oh, and if they can not pass the budget on time, dock their pay.
We seem to forget that these people work for us. It is not the other way around. We have the power to get effective change if we only get together to demand it. We did this past Tuesday. We did with the vote to have term-limits. We did with Prop 13. Now, it is very important to seek real, long and lasting reform that will make these clowns in suits actually do their duty when they are elected. Reverting back to a part-time legislature will make these people more accountable to the people because they would be out of the ivory tower that Sacramento has become. Imagine that these people could legislate part of the year and actually live under their laws like the rest of us the remainder of the year.
It is time for us, the people, to take back our state.
It is time to bring back the part-time legislature.

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