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…
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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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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.


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.


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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    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.