California Lawmakers Work Hard on Holiday Week

Who says state lawmakers don't work hard?

On this Fourth of July week, with many Californians off on vacation (at least judging by the uncharacteristically light LA traffic your blogger experienced on the way to work), our lawmakers are working very, very hard.

Indeed, as the Sacramento Bee noted recently, the term Big Five -- usually used to describe the governor and the four top legislative leaders in the Capitol -- means something different this week. The legislature is expecting to take action on five big issues.

This Big Five consists of major legislation to make it harder for lenders to foreclose; changes to the pension system for public workers; postponing a giant water bond from this fall's election until 2014; a reorganization plan offered by Gov. Jerry Brown; and going forward with a new plan for high-speed rail.

It's good to see such productivity. It's not so good that important decisions are being made on complex matters in a short period of time -- before the legislature leaves Sacramento for a month. One should be worried in particular about rushing forward on a complex high-speed rail plan without sufficient debate (and financing for a $68 billion-plus project).

That, of course, is the way we Californians often do business -- in a hurry, just as we're about to rush off. Indeed, much of what is wrong in the California governing system is the result of haste, particularly the haste to change the constitution.

Whatever happens this week on these big five issues, the legislature will be off on its own vacation next week. Even if the rest of us are back to work.

 Lead Prop Zero blogger Joe Mathews is California editor at Zocalo Public Square, a fellow at Arizona State University’s Center for Social Cohesion, and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (University of California, 2010).

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