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Prop. 1A’s union foes: Voters OK with tax hikes

As I noted yesterday, we’ll now have a post-special-election period of argument over what the election results mean.

The No on Prop. 1A campaign today released the results of a poll – a David Binder Research survey of 1,008 voters, 603 of whom voted in the special election and 405 of whom did not, conducted May 16-20 – that they say belies the “it’s all spending cuts from here” meme in Sacramento.

“The lesson to take from this… is that voters are willing to look at tax increases, this mantra were hearing that ‘no new taxes’ is absolutely the way California needs to go forward is not supported by our data,” Binder said on a conference call with reporters a short while ago.

That is, when asked, “Which of the following best describes your opinion about the special election?,” 69 percent chose “It was an example of the Governor and the legislature balancing the budget on the backs of average Californians instead of asking their special interest contributors to do their share to help out” while 19 percent chose “The Governor and legislature are asking all Californians to share the pain equally as the state deals with this budget crisis” and 12 percent didn’t know.

And when asked “Which one of the following approaches would you like the leaders of state government to take in dealing with the state budget’s shortfall?,” 29 percent chose “State government should rely entirely on spending cuts with no tax increases” while 65 percent chose “Shared responsibility, with some tax increases” and 6 percent didn’t know.

Lots more poll results, and some opposing viewpoints, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, May 21st, 2009
Under: General, May 19 special election, May 2009 special election, state budget | No Comments »

California’s $21.3 billion hangover

It’s the morning after, and despite abyssmally low special-election voter turnout — the Secretary of State’s office has it pegged right now at 22.9 percent, although there are mail-in ballots yet to be counted — the post-special-election rhetoric is flying hot and heavy.

Conservatives are convinced the ballot measures’ drubbing means Californians are fed up with tax hikes and want deep spending cuts.

Liberals are convinced the low turnout means voters want the Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to raise more revenue for the state, even if that means pushing another ballot measure to do away with the requirement that tax and budget bills receive two-thirds approval from both legislative houses.

And, heck, marijuana advocates believe the election results mean it’s time to legalize and tax the drug.

I think it means California is going to spend a lot of time arguing about what it means. What do you think it means?

Ten pounds of rhetorical excrement in a five-pound bag, in no particular order, after the jump…
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Posted on Wednesday, May 20th, 2009
Under: General, May 19 special election, May 2009 special election | No Comments »

Alameda County’s voter turnout looks looooooow

Guy Ashley, spokesman for the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, said voter turnout for today’s special election looks rather bleak.

“The polling places have had very light traffic,” he said based on reports from the field, noting he had visited a few polling places in North Oakland and Berkeley earlier this afternoon and hadn’t found any with more than 100 votes cast. “I went to one in Berkeley, on the UC campus, that at 1 p.m. had had 13 voters.”

Remember, Alameda County has about 760,000 registered voters at about 405 polling places. Things probably will pick up somewhat after 5 p.m. when people are getting out of work, and Ashley reported they’ve got about 130,000 mail-in ballots already in hand. But those 130,000 ballots amount to a 17-percent turnout rate.

“We’ve been saying 30 percent all along, and I think that’s probably going to be on the high end,” Ashley said.

No major logistical snafus to report, at least. “The biggest issue is that we’ve consolidated precincts anticipating a low turnout on election day, so there are some folks who go to their old polling place and find it’s not functioning,” Ashley said, noting signs were posted to re-direct wayward voters to the correct polling sites.

Posted on Tuesday, May 19th, 2009
Under: Alameda County, May 19 special election, May 2009 special election | 3 Comments »

Lottery firm coughs up $250k more for Prop. 1C

With poll numbers in the dumps and the special election just eight days away, California’s longtime lottery contractor, Rhode Island-based gaming technology and services company GTECH, pumped another $250,000 today into “Californians for Modernization,” the committee it created in March to support Proposition 1C.

Prop. 1C, of course, calls for modernizing the state lottery — a potential bonanza for GTECH — while letting the state borrow against future lottery earnings to solve its enormous current budget crisis.

This latest contribution brings GTECH’s total ante thus far to $1.25 million. But GTECH still hasn’t given as much as Prop. 1C’s biggest donor: the Service Employees International Union, which through its state council and Local 1000 — representing nearly 90,000 state workers — has given more than $1.4 million.

Posted on Monday, May 11th, 2009
Under: General, May 19 special election, May 2009 special election, state budget | 1 Comment »

Bad news for the special-election measures

The Public Policy Institute of California’s latest poll shows that as interest has grown in the May 19 special election, opposition has grown to the ballot measures with five of the six headed for defeat:

  • Prop. 1A, the spending cap/rainy-day fund: 52 percent no, 35 percent yes
  • Prop. 1B, restoring money cut from education: 47 percent no, 40 percent yes
  • Prop. 1C, borrowing against future lottery income: 58 percent no, 32 percent yes
  • Prop. 1D, diverting money from children’s programs: 45 percent no, 43 percent yes
  • Prop. 1E, diverting money from mental health: 48 percent no, 41 percent yes
  • Prop. 1F, preventing raises for state officials when the budget is in deficit: 73 percent yes, 24 percent no
  • “The voters who are really tuned in are really turned off,” PPIC president, CEO and survey director Mark Baldassare. “They see the state’s budget situation as a big problem, but so far, they don’t like the solution.”

    PPIC found voters most likely to be following news of the special election very closely are older than age 55, men and those who disapprove of the governor and legislature.

    That latter category would be most of you, apparently: The poll found the governor (34 percent) and legislature (12 percent) at almost-record-low approval ratings. Californians feel less trust in state government now than PPIC has ever seen: Just 16 percent of likely voters say they can trust the government in Sacramento to do what is right just about always (2 percent) or most (14 percent) of the time. Among Californians overall, 23 percent hold this view (4 percent always, 19 percent most of the time).

    But it’s not all gloom and doom. For the first time since PPIC started asking in 2003, most Californians – 57 percent – and most likely voters here – 52 percent – think the nation is generally headed in the right direction. That’s a marked increase even from when January, when it was 32 percent of Californians and 31 percent of likely voters. (Apparently, yes he can!)

    The findings are based on a telephone survey of 2,005 adult Californians interviewed from April 27 through May 4 in English or Spanish; the margin of error all adults is ±2 percent, and for the 1,080 likely voters, it’s ±3 percent.

    More PPIC tidbits, after the jump…
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    Posted on Thursday, May 7th, 2009
    Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, California State Senate, economy, General, May 19 special election, May 2009 special election, polls | No Comments »

    Green Party opposes special-election measures

    Make a note on your calendars: This was the day on which the Green Party of California and the California Republican Party were on the same page. Well, sort of.

    The Green Party, which said it polled its members and county councils before coming to a decision, y today urged state voters to vote against on all propositions on the May 19 special ballot.

    “We oppose the cuts in transportation, education, social services and other humane services, and we oppose this deal even though we were told that great hardship would result if (this) rotten deal failed to pass,” said Michael Rubin, who analyzed the measures for the Green Party of Alameda County. “Even more we oppose the process which offers us a ‘choice’ of being shot in the leg or shot in the arm, but did not offer us the choice of using our collective wealth to meet human needs.”

    Proposition 1A, the spending cap/rainy-day fund measure, would create more problems and require billions more in cuts to needed social services, the Greens say; Proposition 1B, providing money previously promised to school districts, and Proposition 1C, to borrow money against future lottery revenue, are merely there to sweeten the bitter pill of 1A, they say. The Greens rejected 1D and 1E because they say the measures steal money from taxes created to benefit children and the mentally ill, and they said 1F — preventing pay raises for state elected officials when the budget is in deficit — is ineffectual.

    State GOP leaders last month voted to oppose all the measures too — but they’re doing it because they oppose any and all tax increases, and believe the state budget should be slashed far beyond the cuts already made.

    Strange bedfellows, indeed.

    Posted on Tuesday, May 5th, 2009
    Under: ballot measures, California budget, Elections, Green Party, May 19 special election, May 2009 special election, Republican Party | No Comments »

    Monday is voter registration deadline

    This Monday, May 4 is the last day to register or re-register to vote in the May 19 special election, wherein voters will decide on six budget-related ballot measures.

    To be eligible to register to vote in this election, a person must be a U.S. citizen and California resident; at least 18 years old on Election Day; not in prison or on parole for a felony conviction; and not deemed by a court to be mentally incompetent to register and vote. Voters must re-register if they have moved, changed their names, or wish to change their political party affiliation (the latter of which makes no difference in this election).

    Voter registration cards are available from county elections offices, public libraries, city halls, post offices and DMV offices, or can be downloaded from the Secretary of State’s Web site. Voter registration cards require an original signature and must be submitted in person or through the mail; a registration card postmarked on or before May 4 will be accepted as meeting the registration deadline.

    Posted on Friday, May 1st, 2009
    Under: ballot measures, Elections, May 19 special election, May 2009 special election | No Comments »

    See, it’s OK to disagree.

    Just yesterday, I saw San Francisco State University Assistant Professor Ramon Castellblanch angrily denouncing Proposition 1A, the spending-cap/rainy-day-fund measure on the May 19 special-election ballot, claiming it would be “devastating” to the future of public higher education in California.

    Apparently state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who helped broker the budget deal that put Proposition 1A before voters, doesn’t hold a grudge. Steinberg’s office today announced Castellblanch, a Democrat from Benicia, has been appointed to the California Board of Pharmacy.

    The board adopts rules and regulation for the proper and effective enforcement and administration of the pharmacy profession including licensing and enforcement of state and federal laws. Castellblanch’s term will expire June 1, 2012.

    Posted on Friday, April 24th, 2009
    Under: California budget, California State Senate, Darrell Steinberg, May 19 special election, May 2009 special election | No Comments »

    May 19 ballot pamphlets are ‘in the mail’

    Mailing of state-issued pamphlets for the May 19 statewide special election are lagging behind the schedules of Bay Area election offices, which began sending vote-by-mail ballots on Monday.

    For folks who haven’t made up their minds yet, the ballot pamphlet contains overviews of the six statewide measures and the arguments for and against each of the questions.

    “The Secretary of State’s office tells us that they will finish mailing out the pamphlets by April 27,” said Contra Costa Registrar of Voters Steve Weir. “But as of (Wednesday afternoon) no Bay Area voter has received a pamphlet.”

    In the meantime, voters can wait for the  pamphlet to show up in their mailboxes or download it online at www.voterguide.sos.ca.gov.  Voters may also pick up a copy at the following county election offices:

    n Contra Costa County Registrar of Voters: 555 Escobar St. in Martinez. Contact the office at 925-335-7800 or www.cocovote.us.

    n Alameda County Registrar of Voters: 1225 Fallon Street G-1 in Oakland. Contact the office at 510 267-8683 or www.acgov.org/rov.

    n Solano County Registrar of Voters: 675 Texas St. in Fairfield. Contact the office at 707-784-6675 or www.solanocounty.com.

    Posted on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
    Under: ballot measures, May 19 special election, May 2009 special election | No Comments »

    Speaker Bass urges passage of May 19 ballot measures

    Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles

    Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles

    Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, invited me to sit down with her for about a half-hour this afternoon between her Bay Area events.

    After Bass accepted an award from Girls Inc. for her work with youth, we met in the oddly named “Bridal Room” at the new downtown Oakland Catholic cathedral. (We’re pretty sure it’s a room intended for brides and their bridesmaids to prepare for a wedding.)

    As expected, Bass focused heavily on her campaign to persuade Californians to pass the six ballot measures on the May 19 special election she helped negotiate. The measures were part of the Legislature’s protracted and difficult budget settlement early this year. (Click here to link to the independent Legislative Analysts Office’ conclusions about the measures.)

    “If we don’t pass these measures, when we begin to negotiate next year’s budget, we will have a $14 billion hole instead of an $8 billion hole,” Bass said.

    People have become confused, she said, over critics’ statements that measures 1D and 1E will take money from children and mental health programs funded through Props. 10 and 63. Bass said the new measures will tap into the prior propositions’ reserve funds and divert the money into very same programs that the propositions were intended to serve: core children and mental health programs.

    “If these measure fail, we will have to cut children and mental health programs,” Bass said. “We are not using all the reserves but some of that money, which will otherwise just sit in the reserves.”

    She also defended some of the proposed corporate tax credits that critics have said will cost the state tens of millions of dollars such as the Hollywood movie tax credit.

    “I can’t defend all the tax credits we negotiated,” Bass said.

    But the movie industry has been slowing moving out of California, she said, and the state needs to take action or lose it in the same way it lost the the aerospace industry.

    While the measures contain plenty for everyone to criticize, she compared the state’s fiscal morass to a house on fire.

    “When the house is on fire, the first thing you do is put out the flames before you start trying to rebuild the house,” she said.

    Bass also emphasized a need for the Legislature to tackle some of the state’s other big problems such as water, healthcare, the tax code, energy and the prison system.

    She and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg issued a joint statement earlier today and vowed to work on comprehensive plan to solve the state’s water crisis, particularly the problems of the California Delta.

    And Bass says she will pursue the creation of independent commissions to study and recommend reforms of the state’s parole system and its criminal laws. As an example, she wants to see reforms of laws that criminalize and label as sex offenders teen-agers who engage in so-called “sexting.”

    On her personal legislative agenda, Bass has introduced a bill that would extend publicly funded services to foster youth through age 21. The current law cuts foster children off at age 18, a time when very few young people are ready support themselves.

    She also plans to work on a ballot measure in 2010 that would create a special fund to fully pay for foster care services. The money would come from new taxes on candy and snack foods, which would generate an estimated $500 million a year.

    Bass is running out time to finish her agenda. She terms out in 2010 and has no other publicly elected position on her radar.

    “But I will be involved in public policy somehow,” she said. “I have been involved in public policy all of my life.”

    Posted on Friday, April 17th, 2009
    Under: ballot measures, Darrell Steinberg, Karen Bass, May 19 special election | No Comments »