Rewriting California's Constitution
There is a movement in California to rewrite its State Constitution. What was once considered a gimmick or political ploy is now picking up steam. There is now a legitimate movement within the State of California to scrap its current Constitution and write a new one. The movement is being led by a group called The Bay Area Council, which is a collection of corporate CEOs. The group is working on two ballot measures for 2010. One would allow voters to call a constitutional convention without going through the Legislature. The other would call such a convention to overhaul state and perhaps local government. There have been similar calls in other states in recent years but they all have been rejected.
The new head of steam for this idea comes from California’s Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who indicated that he would back an effort to retool the document to make state and local governments work more efficiently. The Governor stated, “I think that eventually the state of California has to look at a constitutional convention, to really look at the whole thing, the way government works in California.”
This move to rewrite California’s Constitution has been spurred by frustration over yearly budget fights and paralyzing partisan battles. California is currently facing a severe budget crisis that has forced the State to raise taxes, including a hefty raise on the Sales Tax. The State is also currently forcing its workers to take unpaid days off and forcing State agencies to slash its budgets causing a decrease in services. There have been other movements in the Country similar to the one now called for in California, including in Hawaii and Connecticut, but those moves were rejected.
But in California, this move may have a real chance. Voters in California have no problem drastically changing the California Constitution. Since the inception of ballot initiates in California, Californians have voted to add amendments to the Constitution over five hundred times. These constant changes make California’s Constitution one of the most complex in the world.
Interestingly, it is the fact that California constantly adds and removes amendments by ballot that has caused many of the problems California faces today. In California, every time there is an election, there are propositions posed. The propositions range from bond measures for schools, infrastructure and recently, gay marriage. California currently faces a severe financial crisis in large part due the overwhelming number of bond measures that have passed in the last ten years. These bonds are paid out of the general fund and the California Legislature has no discretion. The money must be spent. The California Legislature only has a small amount of discretionary spending and nothing that is dedicated by bond can be cut.
To rewrite the California Constitution is a good idea as long as it deals with the lack of discretionary funds that the Legislature currently has. Opponents claim that the Constitution revision is nothing more than an attempt to raise taxes and further burden Californians. However, the system is broken and starting over may be the best way to address the numerous problems facing California.
Will Rewriting The Constitution Pull California Out Of Its Current Crisis?
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