Great Moments in Conservative Thought

Devin Nunes, Congressman from the CA 21st, has an interesting proposal today in the Fresno Bee. Among other proposals (automatic tax refunds for budget surpluses and a cap on spending increases), he has two that are particularly striking:

Thus, the first act of the people must be the establishment of a part-time, nonpartisan citizen legislature — a model which has proven effective in states like Texas (part-time) and Nebraska (part-time and nonpartisan).

What could possibly be more beneficial to good governance than increasing the influence of lobbyists by making the legislature even less professional? Term limits already have the effect of forcing lawmakers out of office just as they finally get enough experience to legislate. I’m sure they’ll adapt even faster when they’re trying to hold down another job. We have a professional civil service and a professional military, but clearly drafting laws is something people can do in their spare time.

The next proposal is better.

End budget stalemates. If free of tax increases, the governor’s budget should become law when the Legislature has failed to pass its own budget by the constitutional deadline. This reform would end the continual government shutdowns resulting from partisan gridlock.

How deliciously anti-democratic. Of course, it won’t work. This rule, given the two-third rule, would give almost all budgetary authority to the Governor, providing taxes aren’t increased. If the majority and the Governor are from the same party, then the majority can choose not to pass a budget and avoid negotiating with the minority. If the minority and the Governor are from the same party, then the minority can act as it does now. And, of course, what if the Governor vetos every budget passed by the legislature, until the deadline passes?

It fills me with confidence that one of our nation’s congressmen has such a firm grasp of the balance of powers.

Of course, this doesn’t really matter, since the big problem with California is that it isn’t business friendly.

Consequently, when we diagnose the extent of our state’s clogged commercial arteries, it is useful to examine why states like Idaho, Utah and Wyoming still have unemployment rates around 5% at a time when California is suffering an unemployment rate of 9% and rising. Why have so many businesses left California to other states?

I’m not an economist, but at first glance my guess would be that California’s economy was more dependent on new housing construction, and thus correspondingly more jobs were lost when the housing bubble burst. Equally, the writers’ strike weakened businesses across the Los Angeles metro area before the rest of the state headed toward recession. The state’s largest metro area was softened up before the real problems began. However, no need for speculation when for comparison we can look to Nevada – a state that is hardly hostile to business – and its 8% unemployment.

California’s willingness to spend, heavily, in infrastructure and education are two of the reasons that so many businesses come to the state in the first place. If they want a mobile, healthy, and educated workforce, then taxes and regulation are just part of the cost of doing business. And, frankly, it seems like a price business has been willing to pay.

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Published in: on January 12, 2009 at 11:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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