The voters of California have put in place two elements of major reform to our election process. The first was taking the redistricting process out of the hands of special interests and career politicians. The second was an attempt to stem the highly partisan elections by giving voters in primaries an opportunity to vote for all the potential candidates. The third and final reform that will clean up the election process is to put a stop to special interests spending hundreds of millions of dollars to taint the elections. That is what Proposition 32 does and why it deserves your support.
Proposition 32 restricts special interests (particularly corporations and unions) from contributing directly to candidates or committees affiliated with the candidates. It also goes on to restrict government contractors of any kind from making contributions to candidates. It is pretty straight forward.
Ask yourself this question – has the state government in California been operating well? The budget of the state has neither been balanced nor on time in a dozen years. Because it is now the law that legislators pass a timely budget or lose their pay, they did that this year for the first time in a decade. But the budget is only balanced with the assumption of the passing of Prop 30 to garner new revenues (from you) and an assumption that certain Californians will have huge profits from their sale of Facebook stock. Is this really a way to run a government?
The local governments are in worse shape. Stockton, Mammoth Lakes and San Bernardino, which have all declared bankruptcy, are just the tip of the iceberg of local governments on the precipice. Many question when an even larger city, like Los Angeles, may have to enter bankruptcy because of being unable to meet its obligations.
The reason for this mess at the state and local level is abundantly clear. It is what has come to be called “Crony Capitalism.” The special interests give huge money to their favored candidates during the election. Then once those politicians get into office they hear a knock on their door. They are reminded of who gave them the money to get into office and asked to return the favor by protecting the projects or salaries or rich benefits of the patron saints. 40% of the legislation passed is written by lobbyists and just handed to the politicians to vote into law. And who ends up paying for these boondoggles? You and I do. But we don’t have a say as the politicians cut backroom deals (often ones they don’t wish to participate in) against our interests.
Think about it -- government contractors win a contract and they can turn around and give a contribution to the very politicians who gave them the contract. Sometimes they are so brazen that they make the contributions before the vote because they know no one is really watching them. The press that used to look over their shoulders has gone out of business in this new age of electronic journalism. The only newspaper watching the state legislature is the Sacramento Bee, and they don’t have the resources to keep an eye on all of them and the governor. It is no wonder that the taxpayers are the losers in this entire process.
You may have seen ads against Prop 32. If you notice who supports those ads, it is the very special interests that are breaking the financial backs of our governments. They want to protect their gravy trains which come out of your hard-earned paycheck. They will tell you they are out helping you, but they are only lining their own pockets.
After over a decade of financial disaster, it is time for the residents of California to take back control of their government. We have taken the steps to stop politicians from protecting their seats from redistricting and stopped the wildly partisan election process. Now we need to take the final step to stop the graft and corruption that is bringing our government to its knees financially. Vote Yes on Prop 32 and change the course of California.
Mr. Bialosky was a presidential appointee to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council.