The head of a regional business group said Thursday that a constitutional convention is the best way to reform California's government so that it can better address the key issues faced by the state.
Jim Wunderman, the president and chief executive of the Bay Area Council, said at a hearing in the Alameda County Board of Supervisors chambers that changes must be made because California's government has become "an international laughing stock."
Wunderman said gridlock in Sacramento has kept state leaders from tackling issues including budget problems, a poor educational system, traffic congestion, overcrowded prisons and a water system that he said is "on the brink of collapse."
Joining Wunderman, Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty said the system must be changed "for our children" so that they don't face crippling budget deficits.
Haggerty said cutbacks in state funding have forced county officials to make $1 billion in budget cuts since 2000, which has drastically reduced the county's capacity to provide services to residents.
Supervisor Nate Miley said the result is that "our residents grapple with drastic cuts in services that impact their quality of life."
Repair California, a group also headed by Wunderman that is leading the push for the convention, has created a timeline that calls for submitting language for two statewide initiatives to the attorney general's office on Sept. 25. One would give the people the right to call a constitutional convention and the other would call the convention and set the process, according to the group's Web site.
Organizers would then gather 2 million signatures for the measures and submit those on April 16, 2010. The measures would go on the ballot in November 2010.
If they pass, a constitutional convention would be held in 2011. The reforms proposed by the convention would then go before state voters in November 2012.