It’s difficult to tell whether the recent proposal to amend the Washington State Constitution to fix our savagely broken initiative system is serious or just election-year posturing. I’m all in favor of requiring initiatives to pay for themselves, but if we’re going to go to the trouble of amending the Constitution, let’s talk about the reform that will really fix the initiative system: banning paid signature gatherers.
The problem with our initiative system isn’t “unfunded mandates”–that’s a symptom. The problem is that it’s too easy for organized money to put absolutely terrible policies on the ballot. Banning paid signature gatherers would ensure that only measures with real grassroots support could get on the ballot, and once again make the initiative the people’s check-and-balance it was intended to be.
If you’re interested in more, David Broder, no raging leftist, writes about this at length in Democracy Derailed.