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TOWN HALL MEETING FOR CALIF GOVT REFORM
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by P T Tuttle
on Nov 19, 2009
State senator Mark DeSalnier hosted a town hall meeting at the Danville Veterans Hall last night to discuss efforts being made to promote "State Government Reform". The meeting was attended by about 125 people. Audience comments were tepid and there were no sparks, although the meeting was shut down at 9:20pm after only about 30 minutes of audience comments following 1 1/2 hours of presentations by the senator and his panelists. Nevertheless it was a good review of our dysfunctional state government by the senator, and he is to be commended for holding the meeting, educating our citizens, and for trying to do something about the deplorable state of affairs in Sacramento - rank partisanship on both sides, lazy politicians, ineffective budgeting and fiscal management, insolvency, and no end in sight. The panelists were from California Forward ( a self-proclaimed "non-partisan" group - actually run by Democrats - promoting getting rid of the 2/3 vote required to pass a budget - a position greatly favored by - you guessed it - Democrats), Repair California (a more non-partisan group advocating holding a consitutional convention - the 1st since 1878 - to figure out how to fix these problems), and John Elwood, a UC professor - who said he is a liberal and a Democrat. Clearly this was not a "non-partisan" presentation. And there was a guy passing around a petition or sign-up sheet supporting majority vote only for the budget. The professor essentially blamed Republicans by saying they have a "theocracy" dictating no taxes of any kind. He could have also said the Democrats have a "religion" of spending money no matter what - but he didn't. But later he admitted that if the 2/3 vote requirement is eliminated, which he supports, the Democrats will indeed tax and spend like crazy until finally, the citizens will be up in arms and will vote them out of office. Gee, that sounds like a good solution to our problems. Let's wait until all hell breaks loose, then we can vote the bastards out. Crazy. What no one said is that the 2/3 vote requirement is the only thing that is keeping the Democrats (who have controlled the legislature for over two decades)from taxing and spending us even further into oblivion - and that is why the Republicans, and independents too, don't want to give it up. My solution: agree to a majority vote on the budget, as long as there are the following conditions - a) the budget must be balanced every two years & all annual expenses and revenues must be specifically identified, b) taxes still cannot be increased without a 2/3 vote, c) use a two year rolling budget together with a five year rolling fiscal projection, which should be updated annually, d) over the next three years, expenses should be cut 10% across the board to help get us back to solvency, e) there should be a spending cap on every budget so that expenses cannot go up more than the rate of inflation, f) there should be a "sunset" on all govt entitlement programs after ten years - ie, to keep them going they would have to be reviewed for fiscal soundness and effectiveness, and then voted back into existence. The consitutional convention should look at changing to a unicameral (one body) legislature (that would cut a lot of costs and BS out of Sacramento), implementing a resolution procedure similar to Chapter XI which would allow for rescinding all government contracts (eg, state employee pension plans) that cannot be sustainably funded, eliminating or heavily restricting the access of paid lobbyists and paid activists, and significantly reducing the amount of money that can be received by politicians, directly or indirectly, from lobbyists, PACs and special interests. Install a one-time 8 year term limit for all legislators (not retroactive so as to support existing politicians in office). Just some of my ideas - get involved, help fix our State!