Editorial: A California Budget at Last, with a Possible Bonus: Open Primaries

From the Mercury News:

In
the end, Democrats blinked — as much for lack of sleep as the stark
realization that, by further stalling on the state budget, California
would blow up before their weary eyes.

The agreement they reached
with Republican holdout Sen. Abel Maldonado before dawn Thursday was
probably as good as anyone could hope, given the unyielding requirement
for passage by a two-thirds majority. The budget for the next 17 months
will be balanced by spreading the hardship of reduced services and
higher taxes fairly evenly, with notable exceptions, starting with the
evisceration of public transit funding. There will be a few budget
reforms, including more public-private building projects. And at
Maldonado’s insistence, there’s an unexpected opportunity for true
political reform: Californians will decide in June 2010 whether to
switch to an open system of primary elections that will allow voters to
choose whatever candidates they want, regardless of party affiliation.
The two top vote getters would face a runoff.

Political parties
hate open primaries, for they will loosen their grip on the Legislature
while producing more pragmatic and independent legislators. So they and
their supporters — unions allied with Democrats, anti-tax groups behind
Republicans — will campaign against the plan. The past four months of
brinkmanship at the Capitol, with furloughs and a precipitous drop in
California’s credit rating, prove the case for reform.

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