California Ballot Props: Term Limits Change and Community College Funding Defeated; Tribal Gaming Approved4 min read

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The outcomes won’t change here: Calikfornians defeated all ballot measures except for the four Indian Gaming referenda.

With 95% of the precinct vote in—but with perhaps a million more vote by mail ballots and others to be counted—the biggest surprise may be the relative closeness of Prop 93 which sought to change term limits in California—among the strictest in the nation—which is failing 46.6% yes and 53.4% no. The California Field poll and other late polls show the measure in the 30’s.

A look at the state county map of election returns shows it winning in only 7 of California’s 58 counties: San Francicsco, Monterey, and Santa Cruz, and some smaller inland counties.

This will have major impacts—and some of them immediately—as both Speaker of the Assembly Fabian Nunez and President pro Tem Don Perata will now be out of their offices by the end of the year, and if history is any example, there may well be leadership changes before then, with jockeying having started long before the vote yesterday. As we have pointed out in another article this morning, there will be an Oklahoma land rush for at least 34 open seats in the June primary. Filing opens for those races Monday.

Just how all this plays out with big issues—the budget with huge deficits—and what is possibly a low turnout election in June, will have to be analyzed and reported on.

With that huge deficit, a massive advertising campaign, and support from Governor Schwarzenegger, other statewide officeholders, and most legislators those who won the right to install 17,000 new slot machines—reportedly the highest single expansion in United States history, and certainly in the state of California—have won on Propositions 94 through 97. The voters in those propositions affirmed the legislature’s actions.

Money undoubtedly played a role here, with tribes in support spending $115 million according to recent California Secretary of State information. The opposition spending was approximately a third of that—around $38 million—still a massive sum.

A look at the map shows Prop 94 passing in 39 of California’s 58 counties. It failed in Bay Area and a number of north coast district, but won elsewhere. It is receiving around 56% of the vote and the totals are near identical for the remaining three referenda on compacts with other tribes.

Time will tell how much in revenues it will bring in to the state’s coffers. There also have been reports of additional compacts that the Governor may negotiate with other tribes, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out—and the dynamics of support and opposition by the tribes that won to other tribes also placing more slot machines in the state.

Proposition 92 on Community College funding, fees, and governance was defeated substantially, only receiving 42.6% of the vote. It was supported by the California Federation of Teachers and many students, but opposed by the California Teachers Association and many from other publicly funded institutions of higher learning in the state—from the University of California and the California State Universities as well as the state’s K-12 schools. It would have dedicated a portion of the pool of education money to the Community Colleges, thus reducing funds for these other levels of education.

This proposition was a hard sell to the voters in a time of extreme budget deficits in the state. It was criticized as ballot box budgeting at a time when many argued for flexibility to be in the hands of the governor and legislature. This is exactly what those who wanted to see California Community Colleges receive more funding sought to avoid—as that flexibility—unless the total amount of funding for education increases—has led to low state support for community colleges and higher fees and costs for students.

Imperial County was the only one in California to vote for Prop 92.

Finally, Prop 91—a vestigial one left over from negotiations of the infrastructure bonds in 2006, which had provisions mandating that portions of these funds failed. What is instructive is that it actually received about 42% of the vote despite the fact that the proponents of it—who spent money to get it on the ballot—argued against it in the ballot pamphlet. They pointed out that the voters had passed with the transportation bonds in 2006 provisions that prevent diversion of transportation financed funds for non transportation purposes. There was no argument at all in the main arguments in the pamphlet or the rebuttals, in support and no organized support for the measure.

Prop 91 got 87% of the vote—on the yes side in tiny Butte County—with over 20,000 in support and only a little over 3000 in opposition. It stands out in stark contrast in the map of the state which shows a number of counties with only a few percentage points more on the no side.

Had 91 passed, it would have become one of those apocryphal stories—like when a dead candidate beats a live one.

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