Category: California Proposition 29

Jun 22 2012

California Proposition 29 Tobacco Tax Rejected by Voters

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No on Prop 29 spokesperson Dr. La Donna Porter

The vote was close, but the election is over and California Proposition 29 has failed at the polls.

An attempt to levy a $1-per-pack tax increase on cigarettes was narrowly rejected by voters amid a high-stakes campaign in which the tobacco industry and its allies spent some $47 million to kill the measure, according to an Associated Press projection.

The secretary of state’s office reported that the tally for Proposition 29, out of some 4.9 million votes cast, was about 2.52 million opposed and 2.49 million in favor, a difference of less than 30,000 votes.

The vote count on Proposition 29, which was sponsored by a cancer-research coalition, has been close since the June 5 primary election as the returns were tallied. About 100,000 votes remain to be counted.

In California’s economic climate, voters are just not willing to approve increased taxation – no matter how noble or altrusitic the cause.

Here is a map of the California Proposition 29 votes by California County.

I am positive the supporters will be back with a revised proposal in 2014.

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Jun 20 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: June 20, 2012

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Redwood National Park, California

Good Wednesday morning!

The California Legislature is in session.  Today’s schedule is here.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s here.

On to today’s California headlines:

Vote remains close on Prop. 29 tobacco tax ballot initiative

The vote count for the June 5 tobacco tax ballot initiative remained tight Tuesday as elections officials across California continued tallying hundreds of thousands of uncounted ballots.

The measure, Proposition 29, was losing by 17,534 votes – or four-tenths of 1% — a gap that narrowed from 63,000 on election night, according to the California secretary of state’s office.

More than 4.9 million ballots already have been counted across the state. The secretary of state’s office estimates that, as of Tuesday morning, just over 370,000 ballots across that state remained uncounted. Shortly after the primary, there were more than a million uncounted ballots statewide.

The uncounted ballots consist of many cast by mail, as well as provisional and damaged ones.

Approved state budget still not a done deal

Majority Democrats may be able to crow over producing an on-time state budget, but that’s like claiming a trophy at half-time.

Though the Legislature passed the budget Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown and leading Democrats are still immersed in private talks to close out a number of divisive issues before they can seal the final deal.

Among those: So-called “trigger” cuts that would be automatically imposed if voters in November reject tax hikes, how to potentially erase 15 days from the school calendar, a 5 percent pay cut for thousands of state workers and ways to cushion blows to the poor and disabled.

Democratic leaders say their goal is to act on about 20 bills needed to implement the budget in the coming days, perhaps as soon as Thursday. Brown, also a Democrat, is reportedly sitting on the main budget bill until he sees the other so-called “trailer” bills. Then he can take his blue pencil and make deeper cuts, if necessary.

Brown has until June 27 to make up his mind on the budget and line-item spending vetoes.

Same-day voter registration bill moves forward in Legislature

Election seasons come and go, and with them public attention to the political process waxes and wanes.

“The really heartbreaking fact of the matter is that a lot of the excitement kicks in about two weeks before Election Day. But by then it’s too late, and a lot of people are left sitting on the sidelines,” said Kim Alexander, president and founder of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation. “If we can engage people when they’re excited, we have an opportunity to create a lifelong voter.”

The Legislature on Tuesday moved closer toward embracing one way to help Californians seize that moment by allowing voter registration to take place through Election Day — an approach that has sparked sharp partisan divisions in the past.

On a party-line vote, with majority Democrats in support, the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee approved a bill to allow same-day voter registration as soon as a new statewide computerized database is operational. The system will let elections officials check the status of all voters statewide.

The measure — AB 1436, by Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles — has been approved by the Assembly and next heads to the Senate Public Safety Committee, which must consider the bill because it would increase the maximum penalty for voter fraud.

UCLA forecast: Economy to lag 3 more years — High unemployment, slow growth impede progress

California’s long slow slog out of the Great Recession will continue for at least three more years amid tepid job growth and persistent high unemployment, according to a forecast released today.

And there is a critical component still missing in the state and national economies, said the quarterly UCLA Anderson Forecast.

“There has been no recovery,” economist Edward Leamer, the forecast director, lamented in his outlook for the nation.

The problem is that growth in both gross domestic product and jobs has been weak since the recession ended in the second quarter of 2009.

“More of the same is in the cards, although the housing market is turning around, promising there will be growth in the years ahead, even with frugal consumers and frugal governments holding things back,” Leamer said.

He points out that in each of the previous 10 recessions, GDP — the value of goods and services produced in the U.S. — returned to its previous peak within two years. This time it has taken almost four years.

He forecasts GDP growth of 2.4 percent by the end of next year, increasing to 3.4 percent by the end of 2014.

Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist at the Kyser Center for Economic Research at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., said that the state and local economies will likely play out as UCLA predicts.

Enjoy your morning and Dan Walters’ Daily video:’Two blows for open government’

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May 31 2012

California Field Poll: Tobacco Tax Measure Slipping in Support

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The latest California Field poll is out.

California voters still favor a ballot measure to raise the state’s tobacco tax, but the margin is slipping, suggesting a potentially close finish in the election Tuesday.

The measure, once supported by a wide majority of Californians, now leads by only eight percentage points among likely voters, 50 percent to 42 percent, according to a Field Poll released today.

The race’s tightening follows a flood of advertising by tobacco companies against the tax.

“It’s on a downward trajectory,” poll director Mark DiCamillo said. “The question is how steep is the slope downward. I suspect it will get closer than eight points.”

Ultimately, the tobacco tax measure will fall, if there is a turn out of older Republican voters.

If the measure had been written better and the money raised would have gone to California-based foundations/research facilities that fight smoking, the initiative would have easily passed.

This race may be close.

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May 24 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: May 24, 2012

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Santa Monica, California

Good Thursday morning!

The California Legislature is in session.  Today’s schedule is here.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s here.

On to today’s California headlines:

Approval of Gov. Jerry Brown slips in public opinion poll

The honeymoon is ending for Gov. Jerry Brown.

For the first time in a major California poll since Brown took office, a plurality of likely voters disapproves of the job he is doing, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll released Wednesday.

The margin is pencil-thin – 43 percent disapprove while 42 percent approve – but follows more than a year of relatively favorable marks for the Democratic governor. In April, Brown’s job approval rating among likely voters was 47 percent.

Brown’s dip in public opinion was registered in the days immediately after his announcement last week that California’s budget deficit had grown to $15.7 billion, up from $9.2 billion in January.

Prop 29 support plummets, new poll finds

If anyone ever tells you that money doesn’t matter in California politics, show them the results of the new statewide poll on voter support for Proposition 29.

The initiative — which would add an additional $1 tax per pack of cigarettes and use the money for cancer research — is still ahead in the new poll… but not by much.

The poll from the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California finds that 53 percent of those surveyed now say they’ll vote for Prop 29.  Which sounds good, until you consider that in March 67 percent supported the measure.

Meantime, opposition has gone up from 30 percent in March to 42 percent now.

Put it all together and Prop 29 — which was winning by a whopping 37 points two months ago — is now only ahead by 11 points.

The big change since March: the anti Prop 29 bonanza of television ads.  Tobacco companies ponied up some $40 million to kill the initiative, which gives them about a 7-1 advantage in campaign cash over Prop 29 supporters like the American Cancer Society and cyclist Lance Armstrong.

Special-interest spending floods Cailfornia races in new political landscape

As federal super PACs continue to pour money into the presidential and congressional contests, state-level independent committees are spending big to influence the outcome in California’s legislative races.

Independent expenditure committees, which can raise and spend unlimited amounts, are active in more than a third of state races on the June 5 ballot, spending more than $7 million to support and oppose candidates.

The spending, which will grow as groups ramp up mail pieces, radio and television ads and in-person appeals by paid staff in the final days of the primary campaign, is expected to easily exceed the more than $7.4 million in independent spending the Fair Political Practices Commission tracked in the 2010 legislative primary contests.

While a U.S. Supreme Court decision opened the door to unlimited special-interest spending in federal races in 2010, the use of independent committees became the norm in California state elections a decade earlier.

Observers say the number of competitive races this year, a product of redistricting, a new primary process and turnover in the Legislature, is driving numbers up.

LAUSD will pay $200,000 settlement over alleged sexual harassment by former Superintendent Ramon Cortines

Los Angeles Unified will pay $200,000 and give lifetime health benefits to settle a sexual-harassment allegation filed by a facilities executive against retired Superintendent Ramon Cortines, officials said Wednesday.

Scot Graham, who has worked in the Facilities Division for 12 years and is now director of leasing and asset management, claims that Cortines made unwanted sexual advances during a weekend spent at the superintendent’s second home in Kern County in July 2010.

Graham’s attorneys notified the district in March – nearly a year after Cortines retired – that he intended to file a sexual-harassment claim.

Hoping to avoid potentially expensive litigation, the school board met three times in executive session before voting 4-3 on Tuesday to approve the deal.

The settlement gives Graham $200,000 cash, plus lifetime health benefits that officials valued at roughly $250,000. In exchange, the 56-year-old Graham agreed to retire from his $150,000-a-year job on May 31.

Enjoy your morning and Dan Walters’ Daily video: Will independents thrive on June 5?

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May 14 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: May 14, 2012

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Santa Monica, California

Good Monday morning!

The California Legislature is in session.  Today’s schedule is here.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s here.

California Governor Jerry Brown will be releasing his revised budget this morning and it will not be good news for Californians.

Gov. Jerry Brown is releasing his revised budget in Sacramento at 10 a.m., and with his deficit estimate now at $16 billion, nobody thinks it’ll be easy on the eyes. As Kevin Yamamura reported Sunday, “No sector that relies on state funding is likely to escape deeper cuts. Brown has already told state worker unions to expect at least a 5 percent compensation reduction.”

Brown’s morning news conference will be streamed live on the California Channel’s website. The revised budget itself will posted online shortly after 10 a.m. at this link. Afterward, the governor will head to Los Angeles for a second news conference at 2 p.m.

On to today’s California headlines:

Tough sell for tobacco taxes in California

 In the past decade, red and blue states alike, from Mississippi to New York, have approved more than 100 tobacco tax hikes in a desperate hunt for budget revenue.

But not one has passed in California, whose 87-cent cigarette tax dropped from third-highest in the nation in 1999 to 33rd today despite the state’s ongoing budget woes.

That confounds health advocates, who otherwise consider California to be a trailblazer when it comes to bans on smoking in bars and restaurants, and public campaigns urging tobacco users to quit.

But longtime state budget watchers are hardly surprised. They largely blame the state’s supermajority requirement to pass tax hikes in the Legislature. That forces tobacco tax votes to the ballot, where industry can spend unlimited sums of money.

June primary is key test for state’s top-two election system

In the first broad test of California’s new “top-two” election system, many candidates in heated races for Congress and the state Legislature have been campaigning earlier, spending more money and downplaying their party affiliation as they try to widen their appeal.

Gone are the party primaries, except in the presidential race. Now all state candidates appear on a single ballot. Only those who come in first or second on June 5 will move on to the November general election, in which no write-in or other added candidates will be allowed.

The new rules, approved by California voters in 2010, further empower voters who don’t belong to a political party — already the fastest-growing category in California, accounting for more than 21% of the state’s registration.

For the first time, some ballots for 53 congressional, 20 state Senate and 80 Assembly seats include unaffiliated candidates. Among the 36 who list themselves with “no party preference” are two congressional candidates who recently ditched their party ties: Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks and former Assemblyman Anthony Adams of Hesperia, both previously Republicans.

 State’s swelling deficit will bring painful cuts. Where to start?

As The Times’ Anthony York and Christopher Megerian reported Sunday, Brown’s announcement doubled as a sales pitch for tax hikes that he hopes voters approve at the ballot box in November. He said budget cuts, primarily to public education, would be even worse without increasing the sales tax a quarter-cent for four years and raising levies on incomes of $250,000 or more by 1 to 3 percentage points for seven years.

“We can’t fill a hole of this magnitude with cuts alone without doing severe damage to our schools,” Brown says. “That’s why I’m bypassing the gridlock and asking you, the people of California, to approve a plan that avoids cuts to schools and public safety.”

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) said severe spending reductions in previous years have left few places for lawmakers to make more cuts, meaning higher taxes are needed to close the larger-than-expected deficit.

“The size of the deficit and the dwindling of options after years of severe budget cuts also show that our state absolutely needs voters to pair cuts with revenues,” he said in a statement.

Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar said Democratic lawmakers should have reduced spending on welfare and other social services in March, as Brown requested.

Dan Walters: Municipal bankruptcy infighting flares anew in California

When Vallejo declared bankruptcy in 2008, one collateral consequence was a years-long political duel in the Capitol between lobbyists for local governments and those for unions representing their workers.

Unions pushed legislation that would have required local governments to get permission from an obscure state agency before filing for bankruptcy – an agency that is and probably always will be dominated by union-friendly Democratic politicians.

Although it did not come to pass in Vallejo, unions representing police officers, firefighters and other local workers were worried that a federal bankruptcy judge might be willing to abrogate their contracts and perhaps even reduce retirement benefits.

By routing bankruptcies through the state agency, union leaders clearly hoped, officials of insolvent local governments could be barred from seeking payroll relief.

Ultimately, the unions and the local governments, primarily the League of California Cities, agreed to a compromise last year, one that in general required insolvent entities to use mediation to seek relief from creditors and file bankruptcy only as a last resort. It was enacted by the Legislature and signed into law.

Enjoy your morning and Dan Walter’s Daily video: Lawmakers fiddle while Californians vote

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