Editor’s Note: Frequent Fox and Hounds contributor, Joe Mathews, will give his unique perspective on all eleven November ballot measures over the course of the next month. He will take them in the order they appear on the ballot.
Some initiatives are ungenerous. They have only one good idea. Prop 31 has a half-dozen of them.
Prop 31 takes a series of proven accounting rules for state budgets – and applies them all.
Cynics would say this is too much. That putting multiple rules in might have unintended consequences. That the state already has too many budget rules. Some of these critics even say that Prop 31 is monstrously long and complicated – longer than the U.S. constitution.
These cynics and critics are forgetting the simple adage. If one good rule is good, then six good rules is better.
Even better is six different ballot initiatives wrapped up in one.
That’s Prop 31. And here’s another thing people are forgetting: surprises are fun.
Prop 31 would be full of surprises. How would all these new budget rules interact with the broken budget system? Who knows? No one, but the answer is sure to be surprising. And what’s wrong with surprises?
A surprise is better than bad news, and all we’ve got in California governance is bad news.
Another part of the measure allows local governments to band together and solve problems, even if it means exempting themselves from some rules.
Now, it’s true that California’s local governments are the source of much of the over-spending, unsustainable employee compensation, and corruption in the state. So why give them more freedom?
Because those problems are all the result of governments operating on their own. But if you put a bunch of problematic governments together and let them cooperate, they’ll solve each other’s problems.