The news earlier in the week that the Koch brothers’ network had a budget of $889 million to spend on political activities during the 2016 election cycle made it into discussions at the UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies symposium that was designed to review the last election. It was suggested at the opening panel discussion that some of that money could make it into California despite its deep blue hue — but candidate races may not be the major beneficiaries.

As USC professor and journalist Sherry Bebitch Jeffe noted, if the Kochs can’t elect candidates to carry out policy they support they could go directly to the people through initiatives to establish policy. Or, one supposes, to oppose a policy others put on the ballot.

California is a bellwether state. Major policy decisions made by the voters here often sweep across the country. Supporting or opposing major policy initiatives in California to set the tone for a national policy debate is possible if the money purse is full.

Since California voters did a favor for initiative campaign consultants by not showing up in droves during the last election it is a lot easier to qualify those policy measures for 2016. Initiative signature requirements are based on the total number of votes cast in the gubernatorial election. For the next election cycle, 365,880 signatures will qualify a statute, 585,407 a constitutional amendment. And, the signature gatherers have thirty extra days to gather those signatures thanks to an initiative reform law signed by the governor.

One of the more obvious places the Koch money might play is in an effort to pass a pension reform initiative, which is currently under discussion, spearheaded by Democratic former San Jose Mayor, Chuck Reed. The measure probably will face difficult fundraising hurdles but a chunk of the Koch money could allow the proponents to compete with the millions the public unions would raise to oppose such a measure.

It would be wrong to think that Koch money would outweigh the money public unions spend on political campaigns in California. Historically, the unions are the big spenders in certain election and ballot measure campaigns.

However, if the major donor in a pension effort (or any other initiative measure, for that matter) is the Koch network, supporters of the measure would have to deal with the campaign against the measure being focused on the donor and not the issues. The media would likely jump on that bandwagon, spending a disproportionate space on the donor rather than examining the issue.

Meanwhile, at the symposium California Democratic Party Executive Director Shawnda Westly dismissed the effect any Koch money may have in California by arguing the Democratic Party get-out-the-vote infrastructure can overcome any large donations on the other side. She insisted that volunteers outwork and are more passionate than paid workers who might be hired to go door to door.

Whether big money will come into California to support or oppose policy measures is unclear at this point but the discussion is another sign that 2016 is shaping up to be a bang up initiative year in the Golden State.