More time in office, more time for corruption
One can't help but find it dubious that the main proponents of Proposition 93 incumbent politicians and their special-interest lobbyist allies make the argument that this initiative would somehow curb politicians from running for office and engaging in fundraising.
"Stop me before I run again," seems to be their cry. Too bad it isn't true.
The fact is that the current term limits law hasn't created a bunch of office-jumping politicians. It's done just the opposite.
According to a report on term limits from the nonpartisan and independent Center for Governmental Studies, only 10% of California legislators serve both the maximum terms allowed in the state Assembly (three terms of two years each) and the maximum terms allowed in the state Senate (two terms of four years each).
Most legislators serve their time in one chamber and are then termed out. That's why Proposition 93 would actually dramatically increase terms for most state legislators because it doubles the terms in the Assembly (from six years to 12) and increases by 50% the terms in the state Senate (from eight years to 12).
That's worth repeating. Proposition 93 would not reduce terms for most legislators, but it would increase them, contrary to how it is being deceptively marketed to the electorate. The irony is that Proposition 93 means incumbents would be able to stay in office longer. Consequently, that means more campaigning and more fundraising by incumbent legislators because of their additional terms. (Of course, given the gerrymandering of districts by the Legislature, almost all of these races are not truly competitive. Somehow, that doesn't limit fundraising.)
California's term limits law also has succeeded in curbing the monopoly of and potential abuse of power by career politicians.
Editorial boards across the state have opposed Proposition 93 and criticized one of the biggest drawbacks to this cynical ballot measure that it is anything but reform and is instead a self-serving vehicle by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D-Los Angeles) and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland) to remain in office for years to come.
Term-limits advocates and the analysis by the Center for Governmental Studies support the view that the longer a politician holds office, the greater the potential for abuses of power and ethical controversies.
One thing that terms limits has done is open up the political system and create opportunities for new people particularly women and minorities with fresh ideas to seek and hold office in California. This is a healthy and positive dynamic for our state and for our Legislature. Passing Proposition 93 would be a major step backward.
California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner was elected in 2006 and is chairman of the No on Proposition 93 campaign.
Don't leave big problems to newcomers