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California Chief Justice Ronald George condemns ballot initiatives

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October 13, 2009

Ronald George

LOS ANGELES, California: Ronald George, the chief justice of the California Supreme Court, condemned California's tradition of ballot initiatives on October 10 in a speech to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[1] George said that the state's voters have "rendered our state government dysfunctional."[1]

In his speech, George paid particular attention to some aspects of the process that he thinks are particularly dysfunctional. Those are:

  • California voters have limited “how elected officials may raise and spend revenue."
  • Voters have placed "California’s lawmakers, and the state itself" in "a fiscal straitjacket by a steep two-thirds-vote requirement" for raising taxes.
  • He said, "Much of this constitutional and statutory structure has been brought about not by legislative fact-gathering and deliberation, but rather by the approval of voter initiative measures, often funded by special interests. These interests are allowed under the law to pay a bounty to signature-gatherers for each signer. Frequent amendments — coupled with the implicit threat of more in the future — have rendered our state government dysfunctional, at least in times of severe economic decline.”[2]
  • George also rebuked the state's voters for approving Proposition 8.

George's remarks came at a time when voters are circulating new petitions to limit the power of the California State Legislature.

See also

Ballotpedia News
* California Supreme Court