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Why Governors Must Raise Money

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Why Governors Must Raise Money

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Analyst says the plan is a start, but doesn't go far enough.

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Gov. Jerry Brown is about to come under criticism -- for an action that is compromising. And necessary.

The governor is raising money. Specifically, he and his allies are raising money to support the tax-hike ballot initiative that he wants voters to approve in November 2012. According to news reports, the initiative committee has raised $1.2 million in a few weeks.

Since that money comes from individuals and interests (Indian gaming tribes, the hospital industry, unions) who stand to gain from the governor's decisions, you can expect to see the governor criticized and scrutinized for compromising the appearance of independence.

That criticism might be fair elsewhere -- but not in California. The state's system of budgeting and governance is so complicated that doing anything of significance, particular in fiscal matters, requires going to the ballot. And going to the ballot costs money. A governor who doesn't raise money isn't doing his job.

Sacramento insiders, in fact, have been privately critical of Brown for precisely that -- being slow to raise money. He has been remarkably slow to do so. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger began raising money for his various ballot measures during the transition period before he took office.

Schwarzenegger was criticized for his fundraising, too. The irony is that much of that criticism came from his political opponents -- including unions and other interests that are going to give money to Brown's ballot measures.

So what if you don't like this kind of fundraising? Hold the criticism, and work to change the California system so that it isn't as complicated -- and doesn't require going to the ballot to make fiscal policy.

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