The term limit mess

You mean that state lawmakers haven't a clue about how to handle the budget? You mean they're taking their cues from lobbyists because they'll need financial support to run for some other office? You mean there's too much inexperience in Sacramento? Like, what a surprise!!!!! As details of the budget plan start to emerge, the ineptitude is likely to become painfully obvious - and much of it comes down to the unintended consequences of term limits. From the LAT:

Over and over, legislators with designs on higher office balked at measures that could be used in campaigns against them. Legislative leaders, inexperienced in their jobs, repeatedly found they could not deliver the votes of their caucuses. Term limits have made this batch of lawmakers among the most inexperienced in decades, and many legislators, their attention focused on their next elected office, spent the night watching the moves of real or prospective opponents in upcoming primaries.


In the past, legislative leaders such as Democrats Willie Brown and John Burton and Republican Jim Brulte had considerably more leverage over members. Today's leaders, however, are termed out before they can consolidate power. As a result, they routinely turn to one of the few weapons they have left: sleep deprivation. Overnight lockdown sessions are becoming the norm with budgets. Meetings start before bills have been vetted by the Legislature's legal staff, leaving lawmakers to wait in the dead of night to see the specific language they are being asked to vote on.

Thank you voters of California for helping create the current mess with passage of Proposition 140, which limited the number of terms in both the Assembly and Senate. In recent weeks there has been talk of reform but I wouldn't hold my breath. From California Progress Report:

Term limits reform in California is hardly a new idea. California State Senate President Pro Tem John Burton (D-San Francisco) supported an effort in 2002 to reduce the severity of proposition 140 by putting Proposition 45 on the March 2002 ballot. Proposition 45 would have allowed state legislators to serve for four years beyond the limits allowed by prop 140. Voters rejected Prop. 45 by a margin of 58-42.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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