Secretary of State Debra Bowen Monday announced that George Lakoff, the proponent of a new initiative that would change the legislative vote requirement necessary to pass the state budget, can start collecting petition signatures for his measure.
Bowen prepared the legal title and summary that are required to appear on initiative petitions. With that now done, Lakoff and supporters can begin their work.
Lakoff, an American cognitive linguist and professor of linguistics at the UC Berkeley, must collect signatures of 694,354 registered voters, the number equal to 8 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2006 gubernatorial election. in order to qualify it for the ballot. He has 150 days to circulate petitions for this measure, meaning the signatures must be collected by October 12.
The measure Lakoff is circulating is titled: "Changes legislative vote requirement to paass a budget, approve spending bills or raise taxes from two-thirds to a simple majority.
The Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance said there would be no known fiscal impact on state and local governments by lowering the legislative vote requirement.
Currently, a two-thirds super-majority is needed in the state legislature to pass any budget or revenue increases.
But Lakoff has said this means that a one-third plus one vote, or 34 percent, of the state legislature can control all legislative decisions. California is the only state with such a rule in place.
Lakoff is hoping that his initiative will gain widespreada support now that the state's $20-billion budget deficit is seeing the effects of a two-thirds' stalemate in the legislature. With public programs and schools being shut down or underfunded, he believes the public is finally taking notice of minority rule in Sacramento.
"This is an issue about democracy and most people don't know it," said Lakoff, who is also a Democratic Party consultant in a recent article in AfterNet. "That is the reason we have a budget crisis, which in the end is really a crisis of democracy."
Lakoff, the initiative proponent, can be reached at (510) 848-7465, according to the Secretary of State's office.