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California's Promise Essay

1882 words - 8 pages

In the 1960’s California experienced reverence through the reputation of being a promising great state. The increasing population as well as the massive publicity, contributed in highlighting this notion. However, in 2011, California no longer holds the same reputation in the eyes of its residents. With a current state deficit of $25.4 Billion, many Californians believe that the state is hopeless and can no longer regain to its past stardom. Famed Historian, Kevin Starr argues that California has lost its promise entirely; however, California has not lost its promise entirely for the fact that California is still the eighth largest economy in the world. California is able to function even with a dysfunctional government and institutional structure. California still has the potential to recover its reputation as a great promising state. By tackling the state’s dilemma, we are able to understand why and how California lost its greatness. Once we analyze the core problems of the state, such as the initiative process, the state legislature, and misrepresentation of the public, we will have a better understanding of how to tackle the issue.
First, an obvious problem of the state is the usage of the initiative process. Originally, it gave “Californians the power to propose constitutional amendments and law that fellow citizens will vote on without the legislature’s involvement (Van Vechten, 20).” However, today, special interest groups have used this process abusively. In fact, initiative campaigns became an industry of its own in California. According to Mathews and Mark, “in 1996, annual spending on initiative campaigns in California topped $140 million (Mathews and Mark, 68).” Special interests groups that are financially well off use the initiative process as a means of affecting policy in California. Through the creation of an initiative campaign industry, it made it easier for special interest groups to have their proposed policy on the election ballot. Although majority of initiatives do not pass, when the public hears an issue of concern, the issue begins to mobilize support; thus making the initiative a concern for many Californians. Because the proposition was able to mobilize the public the 2nd time it was introduced, it was labeled as a public concern when it fact it was a special interest concern.
The initiative process has truly affected the policy that California implements. In a sense of urgency, the Californian public sees initiatives, referendums, and propositions as means of public reform in the government. Professor Van Vechten states that initiatives and referendum have consequential impact on the social, fiscal, and political status quo of California. We see the effect of successful proposition in the daily lives of Californians. Proposition 13 is one the most drastic proposition that had a consequential effect on the state of California. By placing a cap on property tax limit, a source of revenue for California was...

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