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Is Anyone Running California?

Day 84 without a budget in California.

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Photo by: scazon
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We have a $19 billion budget hole that needs to be filled.

The Governor has been too sick to hold budget talks with legislative leaders.

The state is falling apart.

I guess.

I haven't really noticed.

Certainly you've noticed if you're one of the 144,000 state workers dealing with three-day-a-month furloughs, or if you're a driver trying to renew your license at the DMV on a Friday, or if you're a school official or vendor waiting for a delayed payment. Not fun.

For 99 percent of California's 38 million residents, however, it's pretty much business as usual. Unemployment is high, houses are empty, the sun still shines.

Here's my question. If things seem basically the same when legislators are working as when they're not...why have a full-time legislature?

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This is the era of downsizing.

Simpler times call for simpler measures.

Some Californians tried, but failed, to get an initiative on the November ballot to transform the state legislature into a part-time institution. Texas has a legislature that meets every two years and the state still manages to function. Ok, Texas is facing an estimated $21 billion deficit next year. Heck, we get that all the time in California.

Converting to a part-time legislature wouldn't save much money--we're only talking 120 people (and their staffs). The point is to make state government smaller at the top, maybe even nimbler. Slash the pay of an Assemblyman or State Senator, and maybe he or she will go out and get a job in the real world.

While we're at it, do we really need to have a full-time Lt. Governor...

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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