Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Let the voters decide the California budget, through a pendulum-arbitration-style vote

Jonathan Zasloff has a great idea for addressing California's budget crisis: each of the two main political parties presents a budget to the voters, with an honest description by the Legislative Analyst's office, and the voters get to choose one. There's some hand-wringing in the comments about how this could be established, but a constitutional amendment voter initiative seems like the way to do it to me.

This sounds much like pendulum arbitration, which tends to force each side to be reasonable - if it's not reasonable, then the other side wins. Voters have enacted so many limits on legislative budgeting (and I'm guilty of voting for some of them) that we might as well force voters to take responsibility for this.

My one hesitation is that the passage of Proposition 25 means only a majority and not two-thirds of the legislature is needed to pass a budget. Maybe that will start fixing things. OTOH, this is a way to put taxes and budgets on the same level, instead of requiring a two-thirds vote.

More generally, I think progressives need to get over the fact that conservatives sometimes win voter initiatives, and just get out there and fight for good ones, like Proposition 25 and medical marijuana have proven to be.

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