California voters love their state’s process for placing initiatives and referendums on the ballot.
Legislators? Most take a much dimmer view. This year they’ve been blaming voters for spending the state into bankruptcy through the initiative. Additionally — and please hold your laughter — they claim that initiatives have tied the hands of legislators who would otherwise have better managed the state’s finances.
Enter Bob Stern of the Center for Governmental Studies. At a recent public hearing of the Senate and Assembly Select Committees on Improving State Government, Stern told legislators, “Most of the ballot-box budgeting has come from you.”
Stern was referring to a Center study that looked at all ballot measures over the last 20 years that required additional spending. Stern found that three out of four measures costing money were put on the ballot by legislators, not through the citizen initiative. He also found that the legislature’s own ballot measures cost the state $10 billion, while citizen initiatives cost only $2 billion.
Of course, an even bigger issue is the wild spending spree by California politicians with no ballot box input from voters at all. While state tax revenues have increased a whopping 167 percent over the last two decades, government spending shot up 181 percent.
Voters aren’t perfect, but anyone with a lick of common sense knows the answer to controlling government spending isn’t to free the politicians from voter restraint.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.