Hertzberg on the California Forward Initiative

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

California Forward co-chair and former assembly speaker, Bob Hertzberg, is optimistic that the stars will line up for California Forward’s reform initiative proposed for the November ballot. Hertzberg says the money is in hand for the initiative’s qualification with a donation of over one-million dollars from billionaire Nicolas Berggreun matching money donated to the California Forward Action Fund.

I caught up with Hertzberg after he addressed the Los Angeles area civic group, Valley Vote, on Monday.

The initiative effort covers five reforms: Performance-based budgeting; Legislative Transparency and Oversight; Pay-as-you-go legislation; Community-driven problem solving and Multi-year budgets. You can read details of the proposal here.

Hertzberg pointed to polling which showed the reforms had support in the 80-percent range. He said both the ballot title and summary tested well and that so far no major opposition has arisen. “You hear things in the wind,” he said, expecting that there will be opposition from interests that support the status quo.

However, he says the campaign is working with both business and labor interests in an effort to gain support. He also mentioned endorsements piling up for the measure including recent support from the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles County Sheriff.

The former assembly speaker said he expects to be able to fund a strong campaign once the measure is on the ballot but he said that the campaign effort would be more a grass roots operation, not a campaign that counts heavily on television and radio.

Asked where the governor might be on the measure, Hertzberg said he did not know.

The governor will probably not take a stand until the measure qualifies for the ballot. However, it should be noted that the governor vetoed a performance-based budget bill, one of the key reforms that is part of the initiative package.

Hertzberg was not concerned that a long ballot filled with propositions for the electorate to consider will hurt the chances of the California Forward measure. He predicted only 8 or 9 measures would be on the ballot. He believes that the California Forward measure would gain one of the top spots on the ballot because the qualification effort is going smoothly meaning signatures for this measure will be turned in before other signature drives are completed.

In his talk to the Valley Vote group, Hertzberg discussed the reforms proposed by the Think Long Committee backed by Berggreun and an all-star cast of California political personalities, including Hertzberg. He said the proposals are being massaged and would be ready for the 2014 election.

Hertzberg said, should reforms proposed by the Think Long Committee and California Forward pass, along with the changes already approved by California voters for a top-two primary, redistricting reforms and perhaps term limit changes in June, that California governance will be dramatically changed in less than a decade, something he believes will serve the public.

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