California Studies Association

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Why California can’t be governed; Op-Ed in L.A. Times

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Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine, who cover California politics at, published an op-ed in the L.A. Times on Thurs., June 25, about the six factors they see that make California ungovernable.  They list Prop. 13, budget initiatives, gerrymandering, term limits, boom and bust taxation, and the two-thirds votes required in the Assembly and Senate to pass a budget.  Although this list is not new, the op-ed pulls a lot of pieces together. The writers also end with a note of optimism, in the sense that they believe the public is now demanding, and enacting, measures that will help solve the problem.  From the conclusion of the article:

So what can be done about the dysfunction? In the next few weeks, a blue-ribbon commission is set to recommend sweeping changes in the tax system to stabilize revenue collections. Voters last fall approved Proposition 11, which takes away the Legislature’s power to draw its own districts in favor of an independent commission. Next year, as they elect a new governor, Californians also will vote on a system of “open primary” elections aimed at aiding moderates, and they also will probably decide on one or more initiatives to dump the two-thirds budget vote requirement.

California Forward, a bipartisan good government group financed by major foundations, is crafting proposals to conform government systems and processes to modern management methods. And the business-oriented Bay Area Council is pushing initiatives for a state constitutional convention, the first since 1879, to wipe the slate clean and build a new, rational structure for state government.

“The seriousness of the problem has reached a crescendo,” said Jim Wunderman, CEO of the Bay Area Council. “The public is making a statement, loud and clear, that they expect action.”

For the entire article, click here.

–Frank Gruber


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