California state Sen. Robert Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga) holds his head in his hands during a budget negotiating session of the state Senate on Feb. 17, 2009 in Sacramento.
The California state Legislature spends much of its time each year NOT passing a budget. The budget fight consumes time and attention -- at a time when the state has serious structural problems with its governing system that have not been addressed. And here's the kicker: under the state's constitution, the legislature has the power to make constitutional revisions -- either itself, through a commission, or by calling a constitutional convention.
In Tuesday's LA Times, Mark Paul and I, who co-authored a book about how to fix California, suggest that the legislature re-order its priorities in 2011. Borrowing from an idea offered by the consultant Richie Ross (and blessed somewhat by Gov.-elect Jerry Brown), we suggest that the legislature simply kick the decision about the budget to the voters next year. That is, have the legislative Democrats and Republicans put their own budget proposals on the ballot in a special election -- and instead use their time to work on constitutional revision.
Our view: At the very least, the Legislature would waste less time on a budget process that's broken -- and put on the agenda actual fixes for California's systemic flaws. What do you think?