One of the more controversial measures on the November ballot that is sure to be the subject of major political spending is an initiative that would end payroll-deducted money for political spending, thereby reducing the political funding and influence of California’s unions. Supporters suggest it will not only reduce the influence of unions but also corporations because they will not be able to make direct contributions to candidates. The Bee points out that “Since unions raise political money through payroll deductions of their members and corporations spend money donated by executives or taken from company funds, the proposition would hit organized labor harder.”
A coalition of organized labor is getting a head start on rallying opposition to the initiative by releasing the following video:
It’s official: Instead of 12 ballot measures during the November election, there will be 11 after the Legislature voted on July 5th to delay a $11 billion water bond from the November ballot. Legislators apparently didn’t like their chances in the fall and decided that the bond measure might have better luck in 2014. The measure was first put together in 2009 and this is the second time it has been delayed, as lawmakers also bumped in during 2010. Among the concerns about the measure are its unwieldy scope and appropriations that are not directly related to water infrastructure development. There was also concern that it could impact the chances of the governor’s tax initiative.
But Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg sees the delay as an opportunity to improve the measure, as he commented: “If we're really serious about passing a bond measure in 2014, which I fully support, if we're serious about it, get to work now. With human nature, inertia and politics being what they are now, this is merely a band aid and we need the water investment, that's the key. We need to pass a bond. Let's get to it."
The Bee points out that “members who spoke against the bill in the Senate voted for Assembly Bill 1422, the legislation to move the bond to 2014. The bill cleared the Senate on a bipartisan vote of 34-2 and passed the Assembly 69-6.”
We relayed previously that 11 measures have already qualified for the November ballot, so as you can imagine, voter fatigue will be an issue as they make their way down a long list of measures during the election. Consequently, being at the very top of the ballot is prime positioning, and every campaign understandably wants that top spot based on the assumption that voters will be more willing to approve their measure. This is where the controversy enters into the equation. Critics are crying foul play at the governor by alleging that he used his influence to get his initiative not only qualified before other measures but also ahead of tax rivals on the ballot.
The governor and Democratic leaders passed a piece of legislation that would likely push the governor’s tax initiative to the top of the ballot and that didn’t sit too well with rival tax campaigns, so a rival campaign led by Molly Munger has filed a lawsuit to block this legislation. The lawsuit calls the budget trailer bill “an abuse of the political process and legislative power.”
In response to criticism about legislation that favors the governor’s initiative, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg commented, “The governor's tax measure is the most important measure on the ballot, you better believe it. Because it is the opportunity to end this deficit once and for all, and to do so without cutting another multibillion dollars from education and higher education. I proudly stand by this bill."
Among the measures that recently qualified for the November ballot was the governor’s tax hike initiative. The governor is relying on this tax increase to address the state’s deficit and the revenues from the measure have already been included as a way to patch up the state budget that lawmakers approved last month. So how is the governor trying to entice voters to approve his measure in this economic climate?
A threat is one way to describe it, as it has been noted that if voters fail to pass the measure, then trigger cuts will be imposed and education will face reductions. A new poll from Field Poll shows that statewide 72% oppose these cuts and just 19% of voters are in favor. While voters clearly don’t like the trigger cuts that could be enacted, that doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily be willing to support the governor’s tax initiative. Notably, opposition to the automatic spending cuts provision in the state budget crosses party lines, with 79% of Democrats, 65% of Republicans and 68% of independents against the idea.
Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo commented the following on the threat of harsh trigger cuts: “It’s not something that voters think is a great way to do public policy. It’s almost like holding a gun to their heads. If there is a shortage, they would prefer (lawmakers) come back after the election and deal with it.”
The Press Enterprise points out that “If voters reject the initiative, the budget calls for almost $6 billion in automatic cuts to go into effect Jan. 1, 2013. Schools and community colleges are in line for about $5.4 billion in reductions. The University of California and California State University systems would each be cut by $250 million.”
Two energy-related initiatives have now entered circulation and they will have to collect enough signatures by November to qualify for the ballot. The first is a measure that would target California’s two nuclear power plants under an initiative being called the “Nuclear Waste Act of 2012.” This measure would essentially shut down the two plants until the federal government can store radioactive waste from nuclear power.
The official ballot title and description are as follows:
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