After the overwhelming defeat of the ill-conceived budget-balancing propositions in the May 19 election, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers seem finally to be aware that half-baked measures aren’t the answer.

That’s a beginning toward restoring sanity to the budget process and, indeed, the entire legislative process in Sacramento. To that end, we think our elected representatives could make use of a structured set of additional steps.

Therefore, with all due credit to the many organizations that base their work on a 12-step program, we offer the following adaptation, a 12-Step Program for Sacramento, the first step of which already has been taken.

Step 1: Admit we were powerless in the budget debacle and that our work had become unmanageable.

Step 2: Believe that a populace greater than ourselves restored us to sanity.

Step 3: Decide to pay complete attention to the voters who honored us by sending us to Sacramento to begin with.

Step 4: Take a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Step 5: Admit to ourselves and anyone who asks the exact nature of our missteps.

Step 6: Be entirely ready to move in a different direction.

Step 7: Humbly ask the people of California for forgiveness and for their further advice.

Step 8: Make a list of everything we did during the budget negotiations that didn’t work and be willing to make amends for each thing.

Step 9: Make direct amends for those mistakes.

Step 10: Continue to take inventory of our personal legislative programs and, when we are wrong, promptly admit it.

Step 11: Seek to improve our conscious contact with the voters, asking only for their will and generating the fortitude to carry it out

Step 12: Having had a political awakening as the result of these steps, carry this message to each of our fellow legislators and practice these principles in all our affairs.

This is a tall order for men and women who invariably have some measure of ego involved in their work. But a tall order is what’s called for in this financial morass. Democrat or Republican, liberal, moderate or conservative — it’s going to require them all to leave their egos at the door to come up with a workable solution.

It can be done, though, and the clock is ticking.

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