For a time last year, political optimists held out hope that a proposed constitutional convention could put state government back together again.

It didn’t happen because reformers couldn’t raise the money necessary to press the campaign for a ballot measure. For obvious reasons, the special interests that bankroll most political initiatives in California like the system just the way it is.

Plus, the arcane nature of the reform debate doesn’t lend itself to the public enthusiasm  necessary to force change. Want to discuss the merits of making it easier for the state Legislature to pass a budget? Want to discuss the merits of a unicameral legislature? … Hello? Are you still there?

Sonoma County Supervisor Valerie Brown, a former state lawmaker, told me these are the two reforms she thinks would begin to fix a governmental system that is broken. (You can read this week’s column here.)

Some believe open primaries in combination with redistricting reform, coming in 2012, could begin to break down the partisanship and polarization that poisons the political conversation in Sacramento.

Until then, California remains stuck with what is often described as a system designed to fail.

Final note: As the state approaches a new budget crisis – a $19.1 billion shortfall for the budget year that begins on Thursday – the Sacramento Bee has a good summary of the latest stalemate. Read it here.