Prop Zero
The Starting Point for Commentary and Coverage of California Politics

Proposition 26: Too Much Democracy?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Can we ever have too much democracy? That just might be the case with Proposition 26, officially called the "Stop the Hidden Taxes Initiative," which appears on the Nov. 2 ballot.

    If Proposition 26 passes, a two-thirds vote in the legislature would be required for adding any new revenue source to the state budget. Not only would this include those sources already in place--sales taxes, income taxes, and bank and corporation taxes--but the myriad others the legislature tinkers with all the time. Hunting licenses, state park admission fees, and state building permits would be among the hundreds of items requiring a two-thirds vote by the state legislature every time a change was in the offing.

    But there's more.

    Proposition 26 also would require all local governments to organize a vote of the people before imposing or changing any fees different from the status quo. Imagine parking meter rates, dog tags, jay-walking citations, and solar panel permits all requiring a vote of the people every time local lected officials in a local city or county want to adjust revenue streams. When would there be time to actually govern?

    When the Framers established the Constitution, they adopted a concept known as representative democracy. That means that the people would select officials to govern via the vote, with the understanding that the people would have opportunities to replace those officials who lost support of the electorate for any reason at the next scheduled election.

    Proposition 26 changes the meaning of representative democracy to pure democracy. Under this proposal, virtually every move of any government would be subject to approval by the voters. That may sound good in theory, but if you think people are troubled by constant voting now, just imagine what will happen with a constant stream of votes.

    Maybe sometimes there can be too much of a good thing...