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Yes on Props 1 & 2

Joel Fox
Editor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

The old expression that the perfect should not be the enemy of the good is often repeated in political debates when compromise is at hand. An application of that old saw should be applied to Propositions 1 & 2 on next week’s ballot and both measures should be passed by voters.

This page has carried a number articles on both sides of the Proposition 1 and 2 debates, mine included. Today, I’ll rehash and reference some of the reasons I wrote previously in support of these measures.

However, I will start with a dig at the powers-that-be. The governor and legislature manipulated the system – not for the first time — to give themselves every edge by changing the numbers on these two propositions presenting an odd set-up to voters with proposition numbers 1 and 2 then jumping to 45. As I’ve written previously, biasing rules to favor one side or the other on political questions is another reason the general public is losing faith in the political process. Stop gaming the system.

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Proposition 2: Houdini Economics

Jennifer Bestor
Research Director of Educate Our State

Escaping the bounds of financial reality seems to be Sacramento’s favorite magic trick.  The official forecast shows Proposition 2:

  • adding just $1 billion a year to the state’s savings fund in each of the next three years;
  • paying off just $1 billion a year of the state’s ($300 billion) debts;
  • putting nothing into the school savings account.

During these relatively stable, prosperous times.

Yet, had it been fully in place in 2008, the state’s director of finance wrote to Loren Kaye, a Proposition 2 supporter, that it would have covered 62 percent of the $15 budget shortfall in 2008-09 and another 23 percent of $39 billion in 2009-10 (avoiding $6 billion in education cuts), as well as eliminating virtually the entire first year of the 2009 tax increases.

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California Choices Offers Valuable Endorsement List

Jack Citrin and F. Noel Perry
Jack Citrin is Director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. F. Noel Perry is the Founder of Next 10, a nonprofit that seeks to foster a deeper understanding of issues facing California.

One of the truisms about American politics is that some voters are uninformed when they go to the polls. This can be especially true when voters face complex ballot measures, such as those going before Californians this year.

How do voters fill that information vacuum? One way is to look for cues from outside sources, like business groups, nonprofit organizations, labor unions, political parties and politicians.

Political science research has shown that endorsements can influence voters. Even endorsements from newspapers – often derided as dinosaurs in the modern media landscape – can sway voters, particularly if they represent a dramatic reversal of a past position.

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If Kashkari Really Cares About Kids, He Should Flip on Prop 2

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Let’s do a little negative campaigning here – Neel Kashkari has endorsed Prop 2, the formula on reserve and debt payback, so Gov. Brown’s supporters should know the measure is clearly a payoff to creditors and Neel’s buddies on Wall Street!

Oh wait, Gov. Brown is running in support of measure too.

The politics (though not just the politics) of Prop 2 are screwy, as Democrats embrace a formula that prioritizes reserves and debt over reinvestment in key programs. So Kashkari’s support of the measure, unjustifiable on its questionable merits, makes no sense politically. Prop 2 would seem to offer him an opportunity to point out the hollowness of the supposed fix of the budget – Brown is still relying on the same formulas and gimmicks that create the California disease.

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Secretary Of State 2014: Tight Race, Cautious Candidates

John Hrabe
Writer and Communications Strategist

It’s one of the few competitive statewide races in California. And befitting a close contest, Democrat Alex Padilla and Republican Pete Peterson share remarkably close visions for the job of secretary of state. asked the two candidates a half dozen questions about the job. The responses from both candidates, which are posted in their entirety below, show frequent agreement on the major issues as well as a similar level of caution in the curve balls we threw their way.

Both Padilla and Peterson intend to use technology to improve the office that oversees everything from the state’s election system to business registration. Both the Democrat and the Republican want to increase transparency in the state’s campaign finance disclosure system and promote greater civic engagement in the political process. Both candidates believe it should be faster and easier to start a business in California.

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California’s $12.3 Billion in Proposed School Bonds: Borrowing vs. Reform

Ed Ring
Executive Director, California Public Policy Center

“As the result of California Courts refusing to uphold the language of the High Speed Rail bonds, the opponents of any bond proposal, at either the state or local level, need only point to High-Speed Rail to remind voters that promises in a voter approved bond proposal are meaningless and unenforceable.” -  Jon Coupal, October 26, 2014, HJTA California Commentary

If that isn’t plain enough – here’s a restatement: California’s politicians can ask voters to approve bonds, announcing the funds will be used for a specific purpose, then they can turn around and do anything they want with the money. And while there’s been a lot of coverage and debate over big statewide bond votes, the real money is in the countless local bond issues that collectively now encumber California’s taxpayers with well over $250 billion in debt.

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Bankruptcy Judge Explains Pension Cut Hurdles


A federal judge, who earlier ruled CalPERS pension contracts can be overturned in bankruptcy, yesterday outlined the difficulty of cutting pensions while approving Stockton’s plan to exit bankruptcy with pensions intact.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein issued a ruling on Oct.1 that CalPERS pensions, despite attempted safeguards in state law, can be cut in a municipal bankruptcy much like any other debt.

“Nobody should think that Chapter 9 (municipal bankruptcy) is an easy or inexpensive process,” Klein said yesterday, one of several remarks aimed at any thought that bankruptcy might be a painless way out of financial problems.

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Debunking Myths about Proposition 2

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

With the election heading to the home stretch, this is the last chance to debunk some of the myths about Proposition 2.

Proposition 2 will hurt local school districts.” School business officials and a parents organization claim that Proposition 2 will trigger a statute passed this year that would unreasonably limit school district reserves.

First, since the limit was on reserves was passed as a statute, it can be easily changed if it’s found unworkable. Second, the statute will only take effect in any year the state makes a deposit into the education reserve, which itself would be used to protect school budgets rom falling state revenues. No deposits would be made into this state reserve unless and until statewide school finances are fully funded and all school debts are repaid. Only then would the limits on local reserves go into effect. In other words, the limit on reserves would take effect during circumstances when the reserves are needed least.

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Assembly District 16: Weird & Whacky Antics Put Bay Area Seat in Play

Judy Lloyd
President of Altamont Strategies

A very wise political consultant once told me that the last 7 days of a close campaign weren’t the ones to watch – they were the ones to watch out for. It’s that magical time when your opponent hurls lies about you in the mail.

It’s getting pretty whacky in Assembly District 16 where Republican Catharine Baker is turning up the heat against her Democrat opponent Tim Sbranti.

Most pundits believe that the seat currently occupied by Democrat Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan would be in solid Democrat hands. Democrats hold a registration advantage of 39.42% to 32% over Republicans, with Decline-to-State voters at 22.15%, according to the latest figures.

In what’s expected to be a low-turnout, lackluster election cycle, the race showcases one of the great business vs. union battles of the 2014 cycle. Some polls show the race tied.

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What Out of Control Spending Are You Talking About, Gov. Brown?

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

What on earth are you talking about, Governor Brown?

In your ad for Jose Solorio, who is running for a state senate seat crucial to hopes of a Democratic supermajority, you say that Solorio “was one of my closest allies in stopping the out-of-control spending” (italics mine).

What out-of-control spending is that?

The claim is bizarre. California is distinguished by all the special controls – initiatives, formulas, constitutional provisions – on spending and budgets. We have by any measure too many controls on spending. And as a matter of numbers, we’re still in a period of austerity. Indeed, Gov. Brown has increased spending from that of his predecessor (the biggest recent declines in spending came in Gov. Schwarzenegger’s last two years in office, when the recession hit) – but he remains cheap, which he sees as a virtue (even though it’s a vice).

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