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State Budget

Proposition 31 establishes a two-year state budget, and changes certain fiscal responsibilities of the Governor and the Legislature. State and local budgeting and oversight procedures would be changed. Local governments that create plans to coordinate services would receive funding from the state and could develop their own procedures for administering state programs.

Official Election Results:

Yes: 4,642,088 [39.5%]
No: 7,115,166 [60.5%]

Pro / Con


Proponents of Prop. 31 claim that the measure forces state politicians to justify any new spending projects with a transparent finance source. They also claim the measure will provide voters and taxpayers with the chance to review budgets before they're passed and impose constraints on new government spending. Proponents also say that the measure will give local governments much needed control over their own budgets and demand accountability from them.


Yes on Proposition 31 [Website archived in Internet Archive]


Opponents believe that Prop. 31 will make the government less effective and more cumbersome in operation. They believe that it will allow politicians to alter or override laws which currently provide much needed air quality and public health protections. They also claim that Prop. 31 will make it nearly impossible to increase funding to education.


No on 31 [Website archived in Internet Archive]



PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and their Government, October, 2012 
"When read the ballot title and label, 24 percent of likely voters say they would vote yes, 48 percent would vote no, and 28 percent are undecided."

Field Poll Release #2428, September 25, 2012
“Negative voter reaction to Proposition 31, the state budget reform initiative”.

PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and their Government, September, 2012 
"When read the Proposition 31 ballot title and label, 25 percent of likely voters say they would vote yes, 42 percent would vote no, and 32 percent are undecided."




Under Proposition 31, local governments such as cities and school districts would be allowed to create plans for coordinating how public services are provided. The plans could detail the delivery of services in a range of areas including public health and safety, education, social services, and economic development. Prop. 31 requires that existing governing boards for the county, school district, or other local government approve the plans.

The measure would also allow local governments to change how state funded programs are administered. The Legislature or state department would have a chance to analyze and approve or reject alternate procedures. Local procedures would expire after four years unless renewed by the local government and approved by the Legislature or state department.

Proposition 31 would also allow the transfer of local property taxes. Current California law mandates how property taxes are divided among local governments within a county. Prop. 31 would give local governments total flexibility in deciding how to transfer property taxes. The governing boards of affected local governments would have to approve the change with a two-thirds vote.

City Hall, Los Angeles (photo: Brion Vibber., Wikimedia Commons)


Proposition 31 would place restrictions on the Legislature's ability to increase state costs or decrease state revenues, and when they can pass bills.

Certain bills which increase spending by more than $25 million, would need to be justified by the Legislature. They would be required to show how the spending increases would be paid for by spending reductions or revenue increases. Any bills which create new state programs or departments, expand current programs or departments, or create state-mandated local programs would trigger this requirement. Bills which are exempt from the requirement include bills that increase funding for a program or department which requires additional funding due to increases in workload or the cost of living; bills that grant one time spending on programs or departments; bills which restore funding to state programs reduced to assist in balancing the budget for any year after 2008-2009; and bills which increase the pay and/or compensation of state employees due to collective bargaining agreements.

The Legislature would also be required to show how any bills which decrease state taxes or other revenues by more than $25 million would be paid for with spending reductions or revenue increases.

Proposition 31 would also change when the Legislature can pass bills. Under the measure, the Legislature would be required to make bills and bill amendments available to the public for at least three days before voting to pass them. Bills which are responding to natural disaster or terrorist attack would be exempt from this requirement.


Current state law allows the Governor to declare a fiscal emergency if he or she concludes that the state is facing revenue shortfalls or spending overuns. Once the emergency is declared, the Governor is required to call the Legislature into special session and propose actions to address the situation. The Legislature has 45 days to respond.

Proposition 31 would permit the Governor to reduce general fund spending if the Legislature does not pass legislation to address a fiscal emergency within 45 days. The Governor would be constrained from reducing Constitutionally required spending or federal law spending involving pensions, education, and health and social service programs.


Proposition 31 would also require the Governor to submit a budget proposal every two years instead every year as is now mandated by state law. The Legislature's current requirement of a July 15 deadline would not be changed by Proposition 31.

Proposition 31 would also require the Legislature to use a specific part of its two-year session to review the activities of state and local programs. Current law allows the Legislature to review public programs at various times during the session. Proposition 31 would require the Legislature to set aside the beginning of July of the second year of the session for this review process to take place. During this period, the Legislature could not pass bills except those which would take effect immediately or override a governor's veto.

The measure also imposes requirements on state and local governments and how they evaluate the performance of their public programs. It would impose some requirements regarding how local governments evaluate new items in their budgets. Finally, local governments must review the effectiveness of public programs and explain how budgetary objectives are met for each program. Local governments must then report on their progress.

Voter Resources

Voter Resources

Official CA Documents

Official Voter Information Guide

Campaign Finance Information

Cal-Access Check out how much money is being raised and spent to pass or defeat this measure, and where the money is coming from.

Cal-Access Ballot Measure Summary Data Search Select "General 06 November 2012" and "Proposition 031" from the drop-down menus. Cal-Access provides financial information supplied by state candidates, donors, lobbyists, and others.

Nonpartisan Analyses


California Initiative Review - Pacific McGeorge Capital Center for Public Law and Policy.

Maplight: Voter's Edge

League of Women Voters: Pros and Cons







News and Opinion
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