This election, there are two ballot measures that claim to be reform, but actually would make our California state government worse. Propositions 31 & 32 would actually take us backwards, away from the goals of transparency, accountability, and campaign finance reform–the very goals that their deceptive campaigns espouse.
It shouldn’t be a surprise–these so-called “reform” measures are not funded by grassroots efforts, but largely by a couple of multimillionaires, Nicolas Berggruen for Prop 31, and Charles T. Munger for Prop 32.
Both Proposition 31 & 32 are reincarnations of ballot initiatives that voters rejected just a few years ago, in 2005–when they were called Prop 75 & 76. They should be rejected again.
Prop 31 would make changes in our state constitution around California’s budget and governance. Like the earlier ballot measure, Prop 31 would give the Governor unilateral ability to make mid-year cuts to state services. Beyond distorting the balance of power between branches of government, the Governor would be able to do this without legislative oversight or even public hearings–so much for the goals of transparency and accountability that are the supposed goals of Prop 31.
But Prop 31 also has other troublesome provisions. It gives local governments the ability to pre-empt and avoid state rules on health and human services, and worker and environmental protections. It limits California’s ability to invest in future needs, even when the state has the money. Yet it fails to work as a spending constraint, because it grants a range of special exemptions–from existing programs to bond debt to any program created by initiative.
Prop 32 is also full of special exemptions. It pretends to be campaign finance reform, but it’s full of exemptions for multi-millionaires, corporations, and SuperPACs. So Prop 32 restricts the political fundraising of labor unions, but allows corporate dollars to go unchecked. Prop 32 is meant to further tilt the balance of power away from advocates for consumers, workers, and patients–and toward industry–including insurers and drug companies on the health issues I work on.
California government does need reform–but Prop 31 and Prop 32 are not the solution, they are the problem. Allowing a handful of multimillionaires to write new restrictions and exemptions into our laws and constitution is the reason for some of our troubles. Like California did seven years ago, voters should say NO to Prop 31 and NO to Prop 32.