Today two big stories dominate the news and both could have a great influence on California ballot measures that will be tested in the November General Election—the California presidential primary election and the spread of coronavirus

Today is election day, or should we say, the key day for what amounts to election months in California. Voters have been able to vote for a month and because of changes to the state’s voting laws, we may not get final results until weeks from now. But the outcome of this primary election and others around the country in choosing a Democratic presidential nominee will cast its shadow on many important issues that California voters will be deciding in November. 

With a November ballot full of potentially controversial issues, whoever captures the Democratic nomination could affect the turnout on measures that deal with justice reform, property taxes, rent and medical issues. 

On this site last week, Sherry Jeffe got into the issue of turnout in the November election and how that could affect the Los Angeles County District Attorney race (if it is not settled in this election) and the Proposition 13 reform. 

If Bernie Sanders is the Democratic nominee, he will bring voters to the polls who believe in more government and more taxes that could affect the effort to raise property taxes through a change in Proposition 13. What if Joe Biden or Mike Bloomberg prevail to capture the nomination? Will the Sanders supporters stay home and reduce the votes in support of the tax measure? Sanders supporters are loyal to the candidate and many stayed home in 2016. If Sanders is denied the nomination again that certainly will upset many of his backers, to put it mildly. 

Other issues such as rent control and additional property tax breaks for seniors to free up housing will be on the ballot. Will Sanders supporters likely line up with the former but reject the latter? 

How about justice reform? Beyond that L.A. DA race, there will be a ballot measure to cancel the legislative effort on bail reform and another measure to adjust a previous ballot proposition with changes to criminal sentencing laws. 

The fight over health care funding would be much more highlighted with Sanders and his Medicare for All program heading the ticket. Would that have an effect on the medical malpractice changes proposed for November? 

Perhaps overriding the politics will be the coronavirus and how it plays out. 

California leaders have been wary of a recession that will crash the strong revenue flow into to state and local coffers. Early signs from the markets reacting to the virus could spell big trouble for the state, although as this is written, the market has rallied. 

Stock market loses mean less income taxes down the road from the rich who cover the lion’s share of the state budget. Both Gov. Newsom and Gov. Brown have worked to build a reserve against a big drop in revenue. But even with $21 billion set aside, that won’t be nearly enough if the economic failure is intense as some are predicting because of the virus and its effect on consumers and producers. 

The Legislative Analyst has predicted that even a modest recession could hit the state coffers up to $70 billion. Under such circumstances will voters be willing to raise taxes or support measures like the property tax change that would result in increased cost of living? 

Then there’s the greatest liability for local governments and schools as well as a problem for state budgets—pensions. If the stock market deprives the pension agencies from meeting their obligations due to reduced payouts on investments, expect service cuts or attempted tax increases, which will not be popular in a depressed economy and could play havoc with many local government tax increases expected to be on the ballot in November.

Many things can change in the next eight months, but today’s big stories are worth watching and remembered when the next election comes around.