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Assemblyman: "California Officially a Banana Republic"

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Lost Boys of Sacramento

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NEW FAIRFIELD, CT - JULY 30: A student rests while camping out at the Center for Attention and Related Disorders? (C.A.R.D.) camp at the Great Hollow Wilderness School July 30, 2003 in New Fairfield, Connecticut.

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If you want to understand the depth of the governing dysfunction in California, take a look at the statement from Assemblyman Mike Gatto, a Burbank Democrat.

Gatto, in a statement responding to Controller John Chiang's decision to stop paying legislators, calls his state "a Banana Republic." And he's not talking about the place where you shop.

This isn't exaggeration from some backbencher. Gatto is a young, thoughtful legislator who has been sponsor of some of the session's most significant legislation, on topics from health insurance to initiative reform.

Gatto wrote in the statement: "Our state government right now reminds me of a troop of boys lost in the wilderness.

"The goal is to get back to civilization, but the Governor seems hell-bent on forcing four people to take his chosen path, while John Chiang just wants to sit there and beat up on the unpopular kids.

"It's always been an easy move to bash the disliked - but the truth is that such demagoguery is rapidly becoming cliché, and does nothing to move the state forward. ... I halted a fulfilling private sector career path to enter public service.

"I now have to explain to my wife and daughter that we won't be able to pay the bills because a politician chose to grandstand at our expense.

"California has officially degenerated into a Banana Republic, with one branch of government withholding the pay of another. I wonder if the Controller plans on withholding the pay of judges if he disagrees with one of their decisions."

Gatto makes several great points here. But the most important one may be his point about just how over-the-top legislature bashing has become.

Everyone does it, reflexively. Legislative bashing also has become a way to end any real debate or deflect criticism, if you're a governor or an interest group.

But it is the people who have made the fiscal rules and constitutional provisions under which they must labor. And it is the people who elect them.

If they are failing, it's because we all have failed.

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