Not that he ever made it to the West Coast, but Thomas Jefferson was California dreaming when he remarked, “God forbid we should ever be 20 years without … a rebellion.” Jefferson was referring to Shays’ Rebellion – a series of anti-tax protests by farmers in 1786 and 1787.
On November 8, 2016 Californians will once again have the opportunity to not only elect (or re-elect) local, state, and federal representatives, but also to directly participate in generating public policy. While California’s initiative system is often romanticized, its inflexibility often leads California down a path ripe with unintended consequences and few options for fixing past mistakes.
In the 2016 June Primary, 81 percent of local tax and bond measures were passed by the California electorate. That, of course, would seem to make a pretty significant statement about the mood of these voters have in regards to incurring future debt and establishing additional local taxes. This November, they will have two chances to reassert fiscal prudence and make a significant statement about long-term debt.
Coming out of the Great Recession that ravaged the state budget, Governor Jerry Brown and the state's teachers’ unions joined forces to successfully push Proposition 30, a 2012 ballot initiative labeled, "Temporary Taxes to Fund Education.”
Democracy, Winston Churchill once said, is the worst form of government except for all the other forms that have ever been tried. In California, we carry that a step further: direct democracy is the worst form of democracy, except for the other kind. This has been particularly true in the area of criminal justice.