Four Statewide Offices Should Be Permanently Axed

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office just released a report on how the $100 billion state budget surplus just went poof! There could be a $25 billion deficit for the 2023-24 fiscal year.

Time to clean out some waste in government by eliminating four unneeded statewide offices. Any functions they have can be transferred to the governor’s office in three cases, and to the controller in the case of the treasurer.

First, lieutenant governor. Five states don’t have this post. In Arizona and Oregon, if the governor is incapacitated or is promoted by the voters to U.S. president, the secretary of state takes over. In Maine, New Hampshire and Wyoming, it’s the state senate president. These states do just fine without the otherwise irrelevant lieutenant governor post.

Second, state superintendent of public instruction. Only 12 states make this an elected position. In California, it’s a wholly owned subsidiary of the California Teachers Association. According to Vote Smart, incumbent Tony Thurmond received $2.4 million in contributions, half from public employee unions. His opponent, Lance Christensen, received a total of just $150,000 from small donors. Christensen would have turned the post into a bully pulpit for parents and students, but was wiped out by union money. Instead of such futile battles, just make it an appointed position.

Third, the insurance commissioner. Only 11 states elect this position. The candidates for the job were so inadequate this year the editorial board of this newspaper declined to give any endorsement. Incumbent Ricardo Lara was involved in a pay-to-play scandal and challenger Robert Howell, the board noted, “said he made the decision to run for insurance commissioner because he was ‘looking around for a place to throw my hat in the ring,’ and it looked like a good opportunity.” He also admitted he knew little about insurance.

The position was created in 1988 with the narrow passage by 51.1% of Proposition 103. I remember it well. It was a project of activist Harvey Rosenfield, a follower of Ralph Nader, and now the head of Consumer Watchdog, an organization that has been hounding Lara for his ethical problems.  The reforms obviously didn’t work, so this post ought to be folded back into the governor’s portfolio. Then if something goes wrong, he’ll get the blame and maybe fix it.

Fourth, state treasurer. The job is appointed in 12 states and doesn’t even exist in two large states, New York and Texas. This job mainly oversees the state’s investment portfolio. Reforms in this industry in recent years have standardized investments. No need for a separate position. It could be folded into the controller’s position, which works in Texas.

I’m also tempted to remove the controller’s position from the ballot. Outgoing incumbent Betty Yee hasn’t even been able to compose a new Annual Comprehensive Financial Report for the state since June 30, 2020. And Malia Cohen, just elected to the post, shows no sign of having much interest in doing much better. Although perhaps she will surprise us.

In the end, it’s good to keep the controller as a watchdog post. Lanhee Chen would have used the job to investigate state finances for waste, fraud and abuse. He came closest of all Republicans to winning his election with 44.5%. If state finances implode during the coming recession, in four years Chen might stand a chance.

By removing these four positions from the ballot, voters could concentrate on the remaining posts: governor; controller-treasurer; secretary of state, which should be separate because it safeguards elections; and attorney general, whose separate position is supposed to guarantee a fair justice system.

Another reason for consolidating these positions is the dominance of the Democratic Party. If we’re ever to get back to even a little competition from Republicans, they need to be able to concentrate their energies on fewer races.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Comments

  1. Alvin Holliman says

    I agree entirely, but the state will be bankrupt before that happens, and even then will only get back on its feet if a Republican President and Congress takes control of good ole CA under those circumstances – our beautiful state is just too far gone politically..

  2. Robin Itzler - Patriot Neighbors says

    Not sure any of this matters since the Democrats will keep expanding the fraudulent election campaign activities. Democrats will just keep counting votes until their candidate wins. It happened in 2020 and also in 2022 – see Arizona for more details. And the GOP Leadership is spineless as usual because they are happy and content to be the UniParty.

  3. Amen, Alvin but there is always HOPE!

  4. I would add another, at least a partial elimination. The Secretary of State needs to lose al connections with elections. Look at Hobbs in Arizona likely getting all the inside information she needs to “cheat” her way to the governor’s office. The state is at a standstill over ethics and corruption.

    We need a rotating commission of county political committees tasked to plan, execute and certify all state elections. Each member has an equal voice, regardless of the population of their respective counties. They need subpoena powers of a grand jury to solve any corruption issues and should report to the State Supreme Court for any prosecutions. the State AG is not a player as politics would enter into any issue.

    Let’s have free and fair elections. Return to paper ballots, severely limit mail ballots, no harvesting of ballots and a truth in campaigning laws. No slanderous lies or you chance removal if you win. Limit spending to a per capita limit in lower races, congress and below.

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