What’s California legislature for, anyway? | NevadaAppeal.com

What’s California legislature for, anyway?

Nevada Appeal editorial board

In the race to balance California’s budget, we wonder if anyone has suggested disbanding the state legislature entirely. That would save a lot of money.

Apparently it’s not needed anymore. At least that seems to be a logical extension of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s move to go directly to voters with three initiatives in a special Nov. 8 election.

This is not how state government is supposed to work. In California, though, it’s become accepted practice if you don’t get your way through the normal channels – and you have enough money – then you can mount a campaign for an initiative and go directly to the voters.

It is, you may recall, how Californians got rid of Gov. Gray Davis and got Gov. Schwarzenegger instead.

The initiatives would take political redistricting out of the hands of the legislature, place a modest spending restraint on the state and increase to five years the time needed before a teacher is tenured.

The blame is being placed on Democrats in Sacramento, who have stalled these proposals. It seems California residents haven’t managed to vote them out of office fast enough for Republican Schwarzenegger, so he’s planning an end run (which will cost taxpayers about $45 million.)

“Schwarzenegger is taking a big political risk, but even if he fails, life will go on,” wrote Sacramento Bee columnist Daniel Weintraub. “Rather than sitting still, frozen in partisan gridlock, he has thrown some ideas out there and asked the voters to endorse them. If they would rather stick with the status quo, or go in a different direction, that’s information that he and everyone else in California need to know.

It’s difficult to argue against a direct vote of the people on any issue. But if that’s the kind of government Californians want, perhaps that’s the issue Schwarzenegger should take to the polls.

Despite the criticism we level regularly at the Nevada Legislature, we still prefer a system of representative democracy in which we elect three equal and balanced branches of state government – executive, legislative and judicial. And if we don’t like the job they’re doing, we vote them out.