Of all the many incredible claims made in support of SB 562 – the so-called “single payer” health care bill that doesn’t actually establish a single-payer system – is this one:

Single-payer can be established without a vote of the people.

If only that were true.

But this is California, where doing almost anything butts up against previous ballot initiatives, the state constitution, or some combination of both.

Single-payer hits both. It would inevitably bump up against Proposition 98, the school funding formula put into the state constitution by voters in 1988 (and modified two years later by voters). Prop 98, by governing roughly half the budget, ends up governing the whole thing.

The Gann Limit on spending also would be impacted by a big run-up in spending.

And since voters have done so much on taxation by ballot initiative, most tax changes require some kind of vote.

Then there are the politics. Could you politically insist on making such changes – and get the buy-in of the federal government – without getting approval of California voters?

I’m sympathetic to the idea of a real single-payer system (that is something with actual cost controls and systemic design, all of which SB 562 is missing). And I’m not a fan of Prop 98, the Gann limit, or all the votes on tax and budget policy (which have had an overall ratchet effect, ratcheting down revenues while ratcheting up spending). And I wish we had a new constitution without all these whips and chains.

But this is the constitution we have. And backers of SB 562 have been very supportive of Gov. Jerry Brown, who has led the resistance to a constitutional rewrite (and has instead added to our constitution budget complexity).

So backers bumping up against a system they’ve helped defend. They seem to think they can create some workaround that avoids the constitution and funding for school programs.

Next time, maybe Democrats should let them create a legal fiction. So the courts – and the voters – can explain them exactly how California works. Or more precisely, doesn’t.