Dear Megan Fox,
On behalf of California’s community of political journalists, pundits, and other drooling nerds, let me express our excitement – our sheer giddiness really – at your entrance into the debate about how best to reform California’s broken governing system.
As this terrific video shows, you have strong views about the impact of the state’s dysfunctional budget system on our schools. You make the idea of budget reform very sexy, which is so hard to do that, well, it’s never been done before.
That said, I might suggest – in the most humble and worshipful way possible – that you may be laying the blame for the cuts to school budgets, and the resulting teacher layoffs, in the wrong place. You target Gov. Schwarzenegger, who you suggest has slashed education programs almost single-handedly. “Call, write and annoy the governor until he cries for his mommy,” you say in the video.
Two things. One, the governor’s mother Aurelia died more than a decade ago. Two – no matter what you’ve been hearing from that failed-TV-actor boyfriend of yours (now that you’re a player in California politics, it’s time to get a higher-class political partner, Megan) -- neither the governor nor the state legislature for that matter are responsible for these cuts.
In California’s system, the governor and the legislators like your maid or the personal assistant. When it comes to budgets, they are little more than glorified janitors, assigned the unpleasant task of cleaning up the fiscal messes created by California’s broken constitution. One of the most problematic rules, Prop 98, governs education spending and is so famously difficult to understand that its author built a profitable concern explaining it to people. And you thought Transformers was a successful franchise!
So who is to blame? In short: your audience. The public. The voters themselves have approved at the ballot nearly all of the tax restrictions and spending mandates that make the budget so difficult to balance. Voters themselves, of course, don’t understand that -- and they don’t seem willing to help. In last year’s special election, when the governor and the legislature asked voters to approve tax increases and education funding changes to protect schools from more cuts, the voters turned them down.
Which is why it’s so great that you’re adopting a public profile on these issues. If you could explain all this to voters – and convince your younger fans to start voting – you would do the California schools a tremendous public service.
Of course, the policy involved here is very complicated. I’d be happy to take time out of my busy schedule to walk through the details personally. It may take us a while, at least a weekend, and we should find some place quiet where the two of us won’t be disturbed.
Yours in reform,