California Hail Marys


The New York Times makes a wholly unconvincing case that the fiscal/governance meltdown in California will produce radical and positive new innovation, in the form of, uh, open primaries?

In approving the budget early Thursday, California lawmakers also agreed to place on the ballot a proposed constitutional amendment that would do away with partisan primaries in favor of an open-primary system in which the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, would face off in a general election. […]

Some of this is not new. Californians have tried in the past to remake the primary system, as recently as 2004, and failed. But state and federal dynamics have shifted in just the last year in ways that could favor the initiative.

The dysfunctional budget process here, largely a byproduct of extreme partisan gridlock, brought California widespread shame when lawmakers delivered the latest budget in the state's history last fall and then, unable to agree on how to close the deficits they had created, went on to nearly bankrupt the state. Further, President Obama's brand of post-partisan, across-the-aisle politics has proved appealing to voters and been emulated, at least in rhetoric, among other politicians.

Objective! Anyway, for a real radical new proposal hatched by financial desperation, look at Baghdad by the Bay:

An assemblyman from San Francisco announced legislation Monday to…make California the first state in the nation to tax and regulate recreational marijuana in the same manner as alcohol. […]

"I know the jokes are going to be coming, but this is not a frivolous issue," said Ammiano, a Democrat elected in November after more than a dozen years as a San Francisco supervisor. "California always takes the lead -- on gay marriage, the sanctuary movement, medical marijuana." […]

By some estimates, California's pot crop is a $14-billion industry, putting it above vegetables ($5.7 billion) and grapes ($2.6 billion). If so, that could mean upward of $1 billion in tax revenue for the state each year.