California Chief Justice Ronald George condemns ballot initiatives
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. George said that the state's voters have "rendered our state government dysfunctional."
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.”
- 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.
- Laws governing the initiative process in California
- Joe Mathews wants four changes to California's initiative system