All posts by malb

Will progressives defeat Prop 93 in a fit of pique?

The latest Field poll reveals that Prop 93 is trailing in the Bay Area. That seems to mean that many progressives, disgusted with Speaker Nunez and President Pro Tem Perata are willing to throw away the best chance to reform term limits we have had since that pernicious “reform” was enacted in 1990.  There is much to complain about where Nunez and Perata are concerned, and yes, this does help them remain in office.  But are we really so childish that we are willing to eschew a much-needed reform of a very bad public policy, one that prevents legislators from remaining in office long enough to become effective at their job, simply because it also benefits two corrupt politicians?  

Progressives will cement the current system of term limits for the forseeable future if they defeat Prop 93 out of frustration with two individuals.  Unless we get behind Prop 93, we are likely to regret it when we lament the defeat of public financing of elections and meaningful health insurance reform, to name just a few items on our agenda.

One Progressive’s View of Prop 93

(This post (and the comment in the Arnold 93 diary) is from Mal Burnstein, who currently serves as the NorCal Co-chair of the Progressive Caucus of the CDP. His beliefs are, of course, his own rather than from any group that he is affiliated with.   – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

Some of my progressive friends have come out against Prop 93, arguing that because it is really designed to save the jobs of some current legislators, it must be flawed.  In my opinion that is a very short sighted way of looking at things, and it risks swamping the public policy baby with the self-interest bath water.  The argument for Prop 93 is really very simple, to wit:

(Edited by Brian for space, see the extended).

 Term limits bad

           Prop 93 weakens term limits.

           Therefore, Prop 93 good (despite the blatent self-interest of some who are responsible for it being on the ballot).  The bottom line is that it leaves better public policy than we have now.  We need to look beyond the small down-side and recognize the benefits to all of us of legislators who have a chance to learn their job and have the time to accomplish their legislative goals.

Of course, if you support term limits – an anti-democratic method of telling people who they can and can’t vote for – then I suppose you oppose Prop 93.  And we simply agree to disagree.  But if you recognize the pernicious effects of term limits, Prop 93 is a way to loosen their iron grip and allow legislators to gain sufficient experience and longevity in their job to be able to accomplish something.  For example, Loni Hancock, assembly member for the 14th AD, is termed out this year.  She is the legislative author of clean money.  If we lose her fervor, knowledge and experience in working that legislation, how will it ever become law?  Sheila Kuehl is now termed out of the senate.  If we don’t have her in the senate, who can effectively fight for single payer health insurance?  Do we really want to leave the legislative process to staff and lobbyists?

With respect, I think for progressives it should be an easy decision.