Prop 54 didn’t last long.
The bill was approved last year overwhelming, with all right thinking Californians, good government types and newspaper editorialists backing it as a necessary reform. Only a few of us dead-enders – we were accused of being against mom and apple pie – dared speaking against it.
Prop 54 was going to end all the late, dirty dealing. There would be no late rushed bills before a deadline. There would be sunshine and open debate and transparency, because all bills would have to be in print 72 hours before people voted on them.
The transportation deal put the lie to all those claims, effectively showing Prop 54’s failure, less than six months after its passage.
The legislature made several non-transparent deals to win people over. The overall deal included a budget provision to win one Republican vote that wasn’t in print at the time of the vote. And amendments in the Assembly happened just minutes before the vote. Voters who wanted to know what the deal really was – they were in the dark
I can’t say I’m sad about this. Prop 54 put limits on legislators who are already far too limited. The transportation deal, which puts a tiny band-aid on California’s huge transportation problems, is an example of just how limited legislators are. It would be criminal if Prop 54 held up a deal this small and inconsequential (there were bigger reasons to oppose it, like the fact that it included a constitutional amendment and didn’t fix the roads problem it was supposed to address).
The bad news is that California’s reformers never acknowledge error. They just accuse politicians of sabotage. And so no doubt they’ll soon be back to the ballot with a Son of 54 proposal to clean up and clarify Prop 54, so it will have more teeth.
Transparency reform in California means never having to say you’re sorry.