It may be that by the time you read this California will have passed another budget and all the legislators will have gone home to schmooze their constituents and try to convince them they really did what was best for the state. If the Republicans (joined by seemingly born-again Republican Arnold Shwartzennegger) have in fact held the line against additional tax increases, they can legitimately lay claim to having done the will of the people, as evidenced by our May 15 Proposition vote. Of course Democrats will also lay claim to having done the same but will be bemoaning the cuts to ‘essential’ services and will be seeking new ways to curry favor from their public union handlers. The SEIU, CTA & CNA will be hard at work during the out-session coming up with new ways to spend your money.
However, as I write this, our legislature is in ‘special session’ (is that like special ed?) until they can figure out a way to convince us they actually have passed a responsible budget and one that they will not have to re-visit before the ink is even dry on this one – as they had to do last year. During this special session, our Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries, disgusted at what he has been exposed to during his brief tenure in Sacramento, had introduced a series of bills designed to reduce California’s ongoing budget deficit, saving taxpayers dollars and reforming or eliminating a number of state agencies or programs.
Given the Democrats stranglehold on the process, Jeffries bills stand about as much chance as a snowball in hell of ever seeing the light of day but it’s a valiant effort. You may also recall that Jeffries introduced ACA8 about 6 months ago to bring transparency to the governing/budget process by requiring 72 hour notice of a bill’s contents and a minimum 24 hour access to a print version of a bill prior to a vote. This bill to eliminate backroom deals has been stalled in a back room now for 6 months. Transparency in government, especially in our public union controlled state, only goes so far apparently.
The bills, which Jeffries introduced on July 16, include:
ACAX4.1 – 2 year budget. This constitutional amendment mandates the Legislature adopt a 2 year budget and, in the process, focus only on the budget for the first year and allow other legislative business to be take up in the 2nd year. This will lead to a longer term perspective, help reduce the budgetary peaks and valleys and help eliminate the guesswork for agencies that depend on state funding
ACAX4.2 -Part-time Legislature. This constitutional amendment will save the state significant amounts of money and spare people from thousands of well intentioned but unnecessary bills introduced by legislators every year looking to make a name for themselves. This effort is currently the focus of a John & Ken effort and appeared to be endorsed by no less that Gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown when he spoke with us in June. He indicated that in the 25 years since he was in the governors office, no less than 75,000 new bills have been passed and questioned whether we really needed that many new rules and regulations and if we’re really better off with them or if we maybe could have survived alright without the added impositions.Maybe if our legislators spent less time in Sacramento pretending to work and actually spent time working in their district they would come to understand we don’t need all this BS.
ABX4.32 – State Parks. Instead of simply closing our state parks in an effort to save money, any interested city, county or special district should be offered the ability to lease or assume management of proximate parks.
ABX4.33 CDCR Fire Protection. This bill would require the Dept or Corrections to seek proposals from cities, counties and special districts located within or immediately adjacent to a prison to contract out for fire protection, eliminating an additional layer of fire protection and an opportunity to save money.
ABX4.34 – State Vehicles. Taxpayers should no longer pay for state employees to drive state owned vehicles home. Exceptions will be made for emergency personnel. Gov. Arnold has recently jumped on this bandwagon stating that he will take all excess vehicles from agencies and sell them. It’s a good first step.
ABX4.35 – Cal-Trans Routes. Would require Cal-trans to immediately negotiate the transfer of any state route located within a city boundary to that city if they are willing to accept the route. This would not include freeway but would address issues like the lengthy battles fought by Temecula for control over 79 South and Elsinore for control of the Ortega access. These measures will save the state millions in roadway maintenance funds while allowing local government to better manage and maintain roadways within their boundary.
ABX4.36 – Lieutenant Governor Consolidation. What the hell is a Lieutenant Governor and what has he ever done for you? That seems to be the question as this bill would abolish the largely ceremonial office of Lieutenant Governor. and consolidate it’s few real duties into the Secretary of State’s office. Elimination of this office will save the state millions every year to support a position that never existed in many states or has been eliminated in others.
Well, as I said, these bills will never see the light of day in the Democrat controlled legislature, but they are all good ideas and represent some real attempt at the kind of long-term structural reform that will be necessary if our state is ever to get back on track. As it exists today, it is arguable that we are truly ungovernable – but if we feel enough pain, if we get tired of being taxed and taxed again for frivolous programs, if we get tired of paying our teachers and their union more than any other state in the country in spite of our languishing education accomplishment, maybe the time will come when serious consideration of these reforms can occur. Probably not in my life time but someday. Thanks Kevin.