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American West Briefing Tour: New America Foundation senior fellow Mark Paul provides jaw dropping statistics

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September 22, 2011

American West.jpg

By Al Ortiz

Ballopedia Travel Journal

SACRAMENTO, California: What a way to start the day. Not only were we treated to a beautiful breakfast of frittatas and plum tarts, but we were also privileged to listen to a revealing presentation of California's recent ballot measure history by Mark Paul.

Paul, senior fellow at New America Foundation, and co-author of the book "California Crackup," exposed information about ballot propositions in California that awed those of us at his table. In a power point presentation, Paul showed that the annual cost of approved ballot measures from 1988 to 2006, both legislatively referred and citizen-initiated, makes up $21 billion of the state budget.

On the way to Mark Paul's home

That's approximately one quarter of the budget, according to Paul. Needless to say, a political bombshell was dropped on all of us. What was more eye-opening is that direct democracy wasn't completely the subject of this presentation, unlike previous ones we have attended.

Refreshingly, however, Paul had some solutions of his own, including the idea that general obligation bonds should be self-financed. However, the most talked about solution at the tasteful breakfast was the "pay-as-you-go rule" for ballot measures. This means that in the ballot wording, sponsors should reveal how they would pay for their proposal's project.

In my opinion, this was one of the most productive meetings we have had on the trip thus far. Paul's thorough knowledge and organized visuals of California's history in not only ballot initiatives, but all legislative referrals, added another unique dimension to our learning process of the state's democracy as a whole.

Now, sitting at the airport in Sacramento, even with so many food courts around, I still can't help but think about that delectable breakfast. The tour must go on, though. Our group shifts to Phoenix, where we have a dinner scheduled with one of the leaders in the Russell Pearce recall effort. Here's where I think the tour is going to heat up, and not just in temperature.

  • Current City: Sacramento
  • Next City: Phoenix (Today)

What else to look for today

  • Los Pinos Mexican Restaurant: Dinner and discussion
Learn more about the tour and its participants here.

Follow the tour!

See also