The California Democracy Act


Via The California Progress Report

By Duane Campbell

Over  2000 union faculty, students and their supporters rallied at the California State Capitol in Sacramento today in support of adequate funding for public education, both k-12 and higher education. The rally was one of more than 40 events across the state asking people to Stand up for Education. Faculty and students came from U.C. Davis, Santa Cruz, and Berkeley, as well as CSU Sacramento, Chico, and local community colleges.

George Lakoff, well known for his works on framing issues argued for signing petitions for the California Democracy Act which would reduce the requirement to pass a state budget from the current 2/3 vote to a simple majority.

Lakoff asserted that the  demonstrations will mean little unless the California Democracy Act gets on the ballot by April 12 and passes in the November election. That is the only way that revenue can be raised to fund California’s needs, including education. Lakoff criticized leaders of the California Democratic Party for not getting enthusiastically behind the initiative.

The California Democracy Act is simple. It changes just two words in the Constitution: “two-thirds” becomes “a majority” in two places. That’s all. The initiative is one sentence long: “All legislative action on revenue and budget must be determined by a majority vote.” It’s simple democracy. And because it is a ballot initiative, a simple majority can bring democracy by eliminating the two-thirds vote requirements. The initiative has until April 12 to gather over 600,000 signatures of registered voters.

At present the campaign is far behind. Lakoff argued that an on-line campaign which would  ‘go viral” was needed to push the initiative over the required signatures.

Students, faculty, workers and public education supporters protested  deep cuts to education funding on March 4, 2010. The California Faculty Association (NEA) is one of the organizations that participated in  mobilization. CFA represents the faculty on the 23 campuses of the California State University. Public education and public services need adequate funding to meet the urgent needs of people in California and the U.S.

The  2008-2020  economic crisis has forced the cutting of higher education, of k-12 education, and of social welfare systems. What caused this crisis ? It was caused by the greed and avarice of the financial class and aided by y the politicians of both major political parties.

In 2007- 2008  major banks and corporations looted the economy creating an international meltdown. Now, they have been rewarded with bail out money.  The crisis was not caused by students, teachers, public employees  nor recipients of social security. Now we have cuts in parks,  in universities, in nurses, libraries and police protection. School children did not create this crisis. Foster care children did not create this crisis.

The  protracted economic decline has had a devastating impact on the California budget- and the budgets of 42 other states. Revenues have continued to plunge and legislatures  have been forced to make a series of deep cuts to virtually all of the state’s programs, including the university systems.

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Duane Campbell is a Professor of Bilingual/Multicultural Education at Calif. State University-Sacramento and the author of Choosing Democracy; a practical guide to multicultural education. (Merrill/Pren Hall.2004). Duane is the Sacramento County coordinator of the Majority Rule Campaign and author of the Choosing Democracy blog.

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