California’s Gov. Schwarzenegger says he wants to undo or modify three voter-approved measures. Ah, if only our timid Ted had the cajones of the Governator.
So far Kulongoski isn’t willing to even consider raising the low budget for schools by modifying outrageous tax breaks for corporations and wealthy people, much less fiddle with the even more outrageous recently-passed Measure 37.
While we were in West Hollywood last weekend the Los Angeles Times ran an article called “Gov.s Trust is Limited.” Schwarzenegger is looking to make changes to Proposition 42 (requires sales tax on gasoline to be used to build roads and fix freeways), Proposition 98 (sets up a formula for the state schools budget), and Proposition 58 (budget-balancing measure passed just last year).
And why shouldn’t he? Regarding Prop 98, the article quotes a Schwarzenegger spokesman: “There was not necessarily a mistake made by the voters. The governor is just asking, ‘Did you clearly understand the intent of Prop. 98?’ He’s going back to the people and asking them, ‘Do you want to fix it?’”
Good for the Governator. He realizes that voter-approved initiatives such as Measure 37 don’t get the sort of detailed consideration that legislatively-approved laws do (in theory, at least). It took much effort by lots of knowledgeable people to frame Oregon’s pioneering land use laws. A single initiative crudely written by a few property rights zealots now threatens to undo those laws.
It makes sense to modify Measure 37 as soon as possible, in this legislative session. Already it is becoming apparent that this measure isn’t going to benefit the “little people” who were prominently featured in pro-Measure 37 ads nearly as much as it will line the pockets of those who want to pave over productive farmland with subdivisions.
Oregonians didn’t realize what they were getting when they voted for Measure 37. I wish Kulongoski was gutsy enough to tell the voters of this state what Schwarzenegger is telling Californians: “I want you to look more closely at what you passed into law.”
The Times piece quotes a scholar who has edited a book on initiatives: “They [initiatives] end up mandating inflexible rules for a process that to be successful must always be flexible. That is the problem: These things are bad ideas that sound good.”
Bad ideas shouldn’t become permanent laws. We need a Governator willing to take a stand on reforming bad ideas like Measure 37.