California’s increasingly precarious financial predicament will require major reforms of a wide variety, agreed state leaders and former elected officials who spoke to the Contra Costa Council this morning during its annual CCUSA conference in Concord.
They blamed — not in equal parts — term limits, the two-thirds voting threshhold for budgets and taxes, campaign finance reform, partisan primaries, polemic politics in Sacramento and the Legislature’s inability to focus on solutions that work.
Ex=Business, Transportatoin and Housing Secretary Sunne Wright McPeak even went so far as to diss her former boss, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, calling his decision to roll back the vehicle license fee a terrible one that has helped contribute to at least $6 billion of the state’s structural deficit. McPeak has in the past been very circumspect in her comments about the governor and the three years she worked for him.
Asked how she woudl fix the $41 billion state budget gap, McPeak told the audience she would take three years in order to avoid irreparable damage to schools and social services. But she would hike the sales tax for two or three years and reinstate the vehicle license fee and permanently dedicate it to city and county governments.
McPeak called it a distraction to focus on the two-thirds requirement in the legislature to pass a budget or a tax hike.
“I don’t want ot get to a bad budget faster,” she said.
Instead, McPeak said she would shift the state’s full attention to growing the economy as a means to restore public funds in conjunction with a full analysis of existing state programs’ effectiveness.
Former Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown’s reform ideas included an end to term limits and called it absurd that the two-thirds voting requirements have been imposed by a majority vote given the fact that these rules would never receive a two-thirds vote.
As for campaign finance, he called for a repeal of much of what he referred to as “so-called” reforms.
“In my time in public office, there were no such things as independent expenditures, he said. ” I was the independent expenditure. The public is entitled ot know who gave money and how much and how it was spent. These modern campaign reforms are bullshit. It conceals what is really happening and never really know the source of the money.”
Click through to next page for recommendations offered by anothe speaker, former Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla of Pittsburg.
Former Democratic Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla of Pittsburg, who often ran afoul of his party’s leadership when he partnered with other moderates, had these suggestions:
Establish open primaries in order to allow moderate candidates into office that are not beholden to special interests to get re-elected.
Revert to pre-Proposition 13 distribution of dollars in order to allow local governments more control of how tax dollars are spent.
Create a commission to evaluate the effectiveness of state programs.
Move to a part-time legislature and restrict members to 15 or 20 bills per session.
Consolidate costly duplicative local government entities including overlapping city and school district and water district agencies hat “we can no longer afford.”