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Trying to Reinvent State Government : Reform: Commission created to streamline bureaucracy urges a single-house Legislature and targets Prop. 13. But legislators, voters must approve changes.

August 22, 1995|BILL STALL | TIMES POLITICAL WRITER

"This is a very bold approach," said Carpenter, who was executive director of the California League of Cities for nearly 20 years and now is a member of the state Personnel Board. "I think this is the greatest opportunity for cleaning up some of the problems in Sacramento."

Carpenter said he believes there is a chance voters would approve the revision if the plan could win approval in the Legislature.

Mark DiCamillo of the Field Poll said the proposed revision is so broad that it could be attacked on many fronts by various special interests in a general election campaign. But he added that the public is so disenchanted with government, many of the suggested reforms would appeal to voters.

"It really becomes a judgment call as to, first, what gets communicated to the public?" DiCamillo said. "How is it framed? What do they think they are voting on? And do the pluses outweigh the minuses?"

Hauck said the state has no choice. It must begin changing the way it does the people's business.

"To not change," he said, "is just to wither away."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Proposed Revisions to State Constitution

Major preliminary recommendations of the California Constitution Revision Commission:

EXECUTIVE

* Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor would run as a ticket.

* The governor would retain all powers of the office when traveling outside the state.

* Offices of superintendent of public instruction, state treasurer and insurance commissioner would be made appointive rather than elective.

LEGISLATURE

* One-house legislature known as the Senate would have 121 members elected to a maximum of three four-year terms.

* Sessions would be limited to six months out of the year.

* Lawmakers would not be able to raise campaign funds while the Legislature is in session.

BUDGET

* California would budget for two years at a time.

* The budget would have to be balanced as adopted, not just when introduced.

* Budget could pass the Legislature by a majority vote rather than the present two-thirds.

* State would be required to maintain a reserve fund equal to 3% of the budget for emergencies and unexpected revenue losses.

* The governor and legislators would forfeit their pay and expenses for any period after June 30 in which a new state budget has not been adopted.

EDUCATION

* Education from kindergarten through 12th grade would have a statewide funding guarantee via a per-pupil block grant.

* Unified school districts would have additional taxing authority, if voters approve.

* Local school boards would be granted more power to make decisions on educational programs.

LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

* The relationship between the state and local governments would be realigned and state-mandated programs reviewed.

* Cities and counties would get more home-rule powers.

* Agencies and governments within a county could consolidate their functions under new "charter community" provisions. They would get enhanced taxing and spending authority, if voters approve.

VOTER INITIATIVES

* A voter initiative that has qualified for the ballot would not be sent to the voters if the Legislature passed a measure that was "substantially the same, and furthers the purposes" of the initiative.

* Initiative constitutional amendments would be placed only on the November general election ballot.

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