- Ballot Measures
- Public Opinion
2012: California’s “Year of Reform”?
Will 2012 be the long-awaited “Year of Reform” for California government? What are the prospects for changing the form and function of our state constitution, to make government work for all Californians? What specific proposals to reform Golden State governance are coming to the ballot in the June and November, 2012 elections, and what do voters need to know about them? This website, a collaboration by the nonpartisan, nonprofit group Next 10 along with professors and librarians from the University of California, gives you the tools to become an expert on the ballot propositions and share you knowledge with friends and family.
First, here’s a quick recap of reform proposals and progress over the past few years:
2010: Initiative-by-Initiative Reform
- The popular movement for a comprehensive constitutional convention, led by the “Repair California” group, collapsed when its supporters failed to raise the money needed to put an initiative calling the convention for the ballot (and when the companies which employ signature-gatherers for initiatives threatened to boycott them, fearing that a convention might spell the end of the initiative system!). Read more at http://www.calwatchdog.com/2010/03/18/new-failed-convention-post-mortem and http://www.santacruz.com/news/2010/05/28/how_repair_california_was_sunk
- With so many Californians dissatisfied with government, voters supported a series of propositions making one reform at a time, put on the ballot by legislators and by interest groups with different – and often competing – agendas. All told, five constitutional amendments passed:
- Prop. 14, which created the new “top-two” rule for primary elections
- Prop. 20, which gave the new Citizens Redistricting Commission the power to redraw congressional as well as state district lines
- Prop. 22, which prohibited the state from cutting funding to local governments even in financial emergencies
- Prop. 25, which allowed the legislature to pass a budget with a simple majority vote rather than by a 2/3 margin
- Prop. 26, which required a 2/3 vote, rather than a simple majority, for the legislature to impose certain types of fees
2011: New Groups Take the Lead
- In June of 2012, reform groups from across the political spectrum collaborated to hold the “What’s Next California?” deliberative poll, something like a mini-constitutional convention. A random sample of over 400 average Californians spent a weekend together in Torrance discussing and debating reform, and then voted on a series of proposals. You can watch a PBS documentary on the weekend here.
- The nonpartisan group California Forward, one of the groups collaborating on the deliberative poll, held other meetings up and down the state with thousands of Californians to help develop a series of reform ideas to take to the ballot.
- The blue-ribbon Think Long Committee brought together many of the state’s most prominent government and business leaders to produce “A Blueprint to Renew California”.
2012: The Year of Reform?
- Again, California voters will consider a series of ballot propositions that would amend the constitution to change the operation of our government. Compared with 2010, more of these proposals represent compromises backed by broad coalitions, although there are still some competing measures and fractious fights. They include:
- Prop. 28 in the June 2012 election, a measure backed by labor and business groups from Los Angeles which would amend state legislative term limits by cutting them from 14 to 12 years in total, but allowing legislators to serve all of that time in one house.
- A package of budget reforms backed by California Forward and the Think Long Committee, and supported by participants in the What’s Next California? deliberative poll.
- Rival tax plans supported by Governor Jerry Brown and by civil rights attorney Molly Munger.
As initiatives qualify for the ballot, this website will provide you with the clear, unbiased information that you need to make up your own mind, as well as a web tool that allows you to email your recommendations and resources to friends and family.