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California’s Late Budget And New Ballot Measures For November

Audio

Aired 6/29/10

California's new fiscal year starts Thursday... and it's likely a budget won't be in-place.
We're joined on Morning Edition by nonpartisan Sacramento political consultant Leo McElroy.

DWANE BROWN (Host): California's fiscal year starts Thursday. It's likely a budget won't be in place. We're joined on Morning Edition by non-partisan Sacramento political consultant Leo McElroy. A late budget is nothing new in Sacramento Leo. Of course you know that. How will it though affect state workers and the public?

LEO MCELROY (Political consultant): Well, frankly it's not going to affect anybody very much for awhile. Because nobody is surprised. There is no shock. There is no dismay - oh my there is no budget. Well, the fact is there's only been once in recent years that the budget has been on time. But where the criticism is going to come is how the process goes forward. The Legislature has pretty much decided to let their members all pick-up and go home and take their break. But be prepared to be call back to vote on the budget if any kind of a feasible proposal ever comes together and the likelihood of that is pretty difficult right at the moment. The big question in mind was whether the Legislature should have to stay in Sacramento collecting their big per diem payment or whether they should go home and not be entitled to per diem. Or whether, heaven forbid, they should stay here, work on the budget, but volunteer to not collect the per diem. That one was a non-starter. Someone said that has about the same odds as William Shatner winning the Academy Award as best actor.

BROWN: Wait a minute, William Shatner, he's pretty good. But what's the cut-off date. What is the realistic date that something must happen before we start getting these IOUs?

MCElroy: When we start getting deep into July, you're going to start hearing the IOU talk really strongly. The truth is that the checks are made-up in advance. And so by mid-July you're going to start hearing the threats about the controller's office having to make-up IOUs rather than issue paychecks. That doesn't mean it's going to happen. But it does mean there is a very high possibility of it. And to a state workers that's scary, because you don't know what you can do with your IOUs. In some cases, there are places that will cash them for you. And in other places there are people who won't.

BROWN: Well, let's talk about some ballot measures expected on the November ballot here in California. At least 10 of them have qualified. Tell us about some of the more controversial ones.

MCELROY: Well, we've got interesting ones. There were a couple of chunks of the Schwarzenegger legacy. So the governor has got horses in this hunt. The governor, for instance, is probably going to be out there fighting Proposition 23, which would suspend his greenhouse gas restrictions. It's being pushed by business interests who want the greenhouse gas restrictions lifted for the purpose of aiding business. He's also going to be out there on issues affecting the redistricting commission. California now has that, thanks to a vote of the people. And there are two measures that affect that. One would extend the redistricting to members of Congress, who presently are not covered by it. Why are they not covered? Because they said we will spend millions and millions of dollars to defeat the whole thing if you try to take away our cozy district. On the other hand, there is another proposition that would totally repeal the redistricting commission - so Prop 20 extends it to Congress. Prop. 27 repeals it completely. Prop 25 and 26. 25 makes it easier to pass a budget - a simple majority. Democrats like that. Republicans hate that. Prop 26 means there's got to be a two-thirds vote to pass a fee, which presently can be passed on majorities. Republicans love that. Democrats hate it. There's going to be a nice fight there. And then of course there's the marijuana initiative, which will get the most attention. Although it won't attract nearly the most spending.

BROWN: Well we know Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has spent tens of millions of dollars of her own money this campaign season. But Democrat Jerry Brown has been quite frugal, if you would. How does he compete with almost no paid staff and no field offices in this race?

MCELROY: One wonders if frugal is going to become a campaign issue. Jerry Brown is being remarkably frugal. He's got one office in Oakland. And he's got a very small, paid staff. And a cotorie of volunteers and interns. And he's perfectly happy with that apparently. Although a lot of Democrats say he better be doing more. Although he will tell you he's already accepted ten town hall appearances around California. And Meg Whitman has accepted one. He's going to play that theme. He's going to be the populist. He's going to be the penny pincher. And he's going to make money the issue. And it may have some political clout with the voters.

BROWN: Non-partisan political consultant Leo McElroy.

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