Tuesday, October 6, 2009

California Green Party Proposals

The Green Party of California is considering adding a plank to its platform outlining proposed State of California reforms. While the Green Party is powerless except, in a few cases, at local levels, it does illustrate the kind of thinking people are doing about the mess called Government in this state. The failed budget process has been at the front of the news, and much of the Green proposal addresses budget issues.

The Green Party is proposing a "pay-as-we-go" system, meaning no more bond issues. Bonds are a way of borrowing money. Fees for placing them, and interest, greatly add to the cost of projects funded by the bonds. One reason there is so little money for necessities this year is that so much money is being used to make payments on bonds from the past. Bonds are often passed using the initiative/referendum process. Voters don't think about how an individual bond impacts the budget. They tend to vote for things they think are necessary or nice, like prisons, hospitals, and transportation projects. Bonds, if not abolished entirely, need to be part of a central budgeting process that does not over-estimate future taxpayer revenues.

A unicameral legislature of 360 members is proposed. I like the idea of a unicameral legislature with enough members to keep the number of consituents per member manageable. The Green Party proposal wants only 8 geographic regions. Within each region it proposes 45 members, half (23?) elected by by geographic district and half (22?) elected by proportional representation among political parties. This would pretty much assure that the Green Party would get some seats in the legislature. It sounds complicated, but it is a system similar to that used in most nations in Europe (and around the globe); voters get used to it quickly. It helps ensure that minority views get represented.

The Green Party would allow budgets to be passed by a 55% majority. In the short run this would let the tax-and-steal Democrats to run wild, but at least budgets could be balanced and passed in a timely manner.

A reserve fund would be established so that as the economy, and taxes collected, fluctuated, the state's annual budget could remain on an even keel. This has been proposed by many reformers.

The proposal also calls for "an extra 10% tax on state lottery winners." I find this to be a ridiculous way to raise small sums of money. The lottery already has an effective tax rate of over 50%, when you consider what the state gets in lottery receipts versus what it pays out to winners. Then the winners get to pay both state and federal income tax.

The Green Party wants to stop building prisons. I agree; we have a rate of incarceration that looks more like Stalin's gulag than like a healthy democracy. We may never be able to close our prisons, but we do need to use better methods to discourage crime. Young people need better guidance, and we need to make honest work more attractive than criminal methods of fund raising. More important, California needs to stop acting like every time someone has a little fun, a crime has been committed. Behavior should be treated as criminal only when someone is hurt.

The focus of law enforcement and the courts should be on career criminals and criminal organizations, including those operating under the mask of legal corporations.


Green Party of California site
my Green Party pages at IIIPublishing.com