Monday, August 30, 2004

California should not have a part-time legislature.

Why you're right:

1. Full-time legislatures are more independent. If being a state senator or representative is a part-time job, elected officials are forced to find other employment to make ends meet. This inevitably creates conflicts between the interests of their employers – on whom they are financially dependent – and the interests of their constituents.

2. California is a big state. Each member of the state senate represents 875,000 people – more than a member of the federal House of Representatives. Each state assembly member represents 440,000 people. This diverse state also has complex problems. A wide spectrum of people working full time is needed to find solutions to the varied problems. (Boston Herald)

3. A part-time legislature would magnify the impact of lobbyists. Currently, corporations and other special interests are forced to divide their lobbying budget between the legislature and the executive branch. By shifting power to the executive branch – which would be the only game in town much of the year – lobbyists would be able to concentrate most of their resources in the Governor's office. (Boston Herald)

Why they're wrong:

Calling for a part-time legislature is a staple of conservatives who want smaller government. But there are no assurances that a part-time legislature would lead to smaller government. The things that determine the size of government – like the budget – have to be accomplished regardless of how long the legislature is in session. A part-time legislature merely would mean people have less time to make important decisions. As a result, you might end up with government that is not only bigger but also less effective.