Part-time is half-baked

California state government is nothing if not consistent. The Legislature has become dysfunctional because its members are shackled by term limits and a lack of discretionary funding in the budget due in part to the plethora of voter-passed initiatives. Adding to the dysfunction, the body is now more politically polarized than ever because of gerrymandered districts; the moderate voice has all but disappeared.

Because of these safe districts, there is little incentive for compromise, which makes it even harder to get anything of significance accomplished. And when it does happen, it comes under extreme pressure, and we end up with things like the worker’s comp reform bill: 96 pages and 31,000 words approved long before the ink was dry and any legislator, including its many authors, had a chance to fully read let alone truly understand the implications of the legislation.

So now Governor Schwarzenegger wants to make the legislators’ jobs part-time? That may sound appealing to average working folks, who see their state representatives as little more than elitists living high on the hog at taxpayers’ expense.

But if a full-time Legislature is so inept, what could we expect from part-timers? The state is too big, the issues too complex and what’s at stake too important to go that route. Like it or not, state government serves a much-needed purpose. If anything, we should increase the number of legislators so their districts are smaller and they can serve their constituents better, not decrease their working hours. Move to Texas if you want part-time legislation.