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The California Fix

A California constitutional convention for all

Reformers pushing for a state constitutional convention will have to converse with conservatives if they hope to advance their cause.

August 23, 2009

There have been positive signs. Passionate and thoughtful conservatives have participated in forums and salons on fixing the state and have offered terms of engagement. You won't hear Proposition 13's most ardent defenders agree that it is on the table or, for now, entertain even the idea of a "split roll" in which taxes on commercial property rise with the market. But how about fixing the rules that allow businesses to use stock swaps to hide property transfers without triggering reassessment? Some Proposition 13 supporters have gotten on board with that idea, just as some liberals and government-reform groups are willing to countenance the supermajority required to approve tax hikes.

Repair California has taken its town halls to the Central Valley and to the Sierra. On Sept. 2, it will host an event in Irvine featuring former Gov. Pete Wilson and co-sponsored by the influential conservative blog Flashreport and organizations such as the Lincoln Club of Orange County. Many conservatives remain skeptical -- but they too are increasingly open to the possibility that a thoughtful convention could benefit this troubled state. Liberals and good-government groups must show them that they embrace the idea of a convention as a conversation and a chance for compromise -- and not as a stalking horse for their long-standing agenda.

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