Bill Magavern’s 2008 California Ballot Rx3 min read


Well, they’re here! The long-awaited Bill Magavern ballot recommendations. With so many people absentee voting, we get requests for these LONG before the election. Hold your horses, people!!! Unless you are leaving for Europe or a tour of duty, what is the friggin’ hurry on voting? I still walk to the neighborhood precinct on voting day, but if I voted two or three or four weeks out I would often regret it. New info really crystalizes in the final weeks of a campaign.

So without further ado:


91 – NO
Even its authors have disowned this one. Its effect would be to expand the circumstances under which all of the sales tax on gasoline – not the gas tax, but the sales tax – could be spent only on transportation, which would bind the hands of the governor and legislature during times of fiscal crisis.

92 – NO
91 and 92 share one of the worst features of ballot-box budgeting, because they both would carve out slices of the budget pie without doing anything to enlarge the pie. In this case, the cause is a worthy one – community colleges. But 92 wouldn’t raise any revenue, it would just direct existing revenues toward community colleges, meaning other programs, like health, K-12 education, parks, etc – would be cut. And capping community college fees is not as progressive as it may sound. A much more equitable policy would be to raise fees on those who can afford to pay and use the money to provide more financial aid for low-income students.

93 – YES
CA’s legislative term limits are just about the tightest in the country, and still would be even if 93 passes. The difference would be that a legislator could serve up to 12 years in one house, which would greatly increase the continuity and institutional memory in the Assembly. Currently, the lower house looks like a revolving door, as freshmen arrive in Sacramento already eyeing their next move, usually to the Senate. The situation means that fundraising –almost all of it from special interests – never stops.

To me, this measure is not about who happens to be in office now, but about what is the best policy for the long run. Allowing a legislator to make a 12-year career in one house would definitely improve the quality of deliberation in the Capitol – and I say that as someone who spends many of my working hours in that particular sausage factory.

94-97 – NO
I’m certainly not thrilled that so much of California’s ballot space and political advertising goes into gambling issues, when so many more important matters go neglected. In this expensive battle I side
with the labor and tribal interests who are trying to overturn 4 casinos’agreements with the state. These agreements do not protect the rights of casino employees.


He opposed the Iraq war from the start, unlike his opponents. As a legislator, he’s managed to pass tough bills by working with unlikely allies. My informed source in Illinois politics has spoken highly of him for years. Obama’s theme of participatory democracy – government by and for the people, not the corporate lobbyists – could actually have a transformative effect. With Kucinich out of the race, and Edwards’ campaign faltering, Obama is the progressive choice – and also the one with the best chance of winning the White House.


His domestic platform is straight out of the 19th century, but he’s the only Reep candidate opposed to the war, so if you’re in the GOP this is your chance to send a message.

I’m Bill Magavern, and I approve of this message.

Sara S. Nichols is a dynamic public speaker who has appeared on Larry King, Jerry Springer, The Newshour with Jim Lehrer and talk radio. She lives in Sacramento and writes from time to time on politics on snicholsblog where this article first appeared. It is republished with her permission.

Bill Magavern is Sara Nichol’s husband.


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