Schools? Health? Economy? Not As Important as Redistricting

There's a new political disease in California. It's a form of obsession. Call it redistricting obsession.

The nature of the disease? You think that the drawing of honest districts, by the new redistricting commission, will make an enormous difference in the politics of California, and clean things up. And because you tnink that, you think redistricting is more important than budget decisions, schools, health care, prisons or other items.

It appears that the Citizens Redistricting Commission members have this disease. Last week, the LA Times' columnist George Skelton reported on how the comission's existence has made it harder to reach a budget deal in the legislature. How's that? Because when the legislature drew its own districts, the majority party had some leverage over the minority party. And any leverage is valuable in a budget system that requires the minority party to sign off on new revenues or fees (because of the supermajority rules that apply to revenues).

Maria Blanco, a commission member, acknowledged as much, but suggested that giving the legislature tools to reach a budget agreement is not as important as an honest redistricting. It is "not worth the tradeoff," said Blanco. "Maybe it makes things work in Sacramento. But it doesn't necessarily work for people outside of Sacramento."

This sort of thinking ought to make heads explode. The point of any political reform is for the government to work more effectively. Redistricting reform fails to deliver in two ways. First, with the way the state is configured and the legislature is sized, the reform is certain not to make significant changes in the quality of representation in Sacramento. And second, it makes the necessary horsetrading more difficult.

But it is honest, and politcally purer than what we had before. If only political purity was something with which you could fund schools.

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