From Breitbart, California ponders changes in constitution

Once dismissed as a hokey gimmick, support for a proposed constitutional convention has been building in the nation’s most populous state. Even Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has indicated he would back an effort to retool the document to make state government function more smoothly.

Opponents of the step say it’s just a ruse to raise taxes and could expose the constitution to a host of ideological and special interest-driven changes.

What do they want to change?

Backers of the constitutional convention want to put a proposal on the November 2010 ballot that would narrowly focus the convention on budget reform and a few other specific matters. Divisive social issues like gay marriage would be excluded.

At issue is the requirement that a two-thirds vote of the California Legislature is needed to pass the state’s budget and tax increases. California is one of just a handful of states requiring such a supermajority, and most years it leads to a weeks-long budget impasse. Convention backers want to drop the two-thirds majority rule to 55 percent.

In addition to budget reform, backers want to change the constitution to allow nonpartisan or “open” primaries in hopes that more moderates will be elected to the Legislature. They’re also proposing that the constitution allow local governments to collect and spend tax revenues, rather than have them centrally controlled by the state.

Connecticut, Hawaii and Illinois voters rejected constitutional conventions in 2008. If California voters have any sense, they will, too.  California has a history of offering ballot initiatives to its voters–in fact, voters have to agree to many of the current budget provisions next month in order for them to take effect.  Why not offer these ideas as amendments and let the voters decide on them as they have for years?  Some of the ideas sound good, like changing the primaries and decentralizing the control of tax revenues.  Making it easier to raise taxes does not, which is probably why backers want to make it a package deal.

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