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Election 2012: Proposition 31

Proposition 31 has been criticized for not going far enough to change California’s fiscal environment, for being too complex, and for its possible unintended consequences. James Mayer is the Executive Director of California Forward which is pushing Proposition 31.

“We explain this to Californians that we’ve built a new budget process that’s really based on best practices in other states that’s ninety percent of this measure,” said Mayer.

Mayer also said Prop. 31 would end the turmoil of annual budgeting by establishing a two-year performance-based budget. It would require the legislature to define funding sources for new programs or tax cuts costing $25 million dollars or more. The measure would permit the Governor to cut the budget unilaterally in fiscal emergencies, if the Legislature doesn’t act.


“It’s certainly got more words in it than that and there are more details cause you’re dealing with law,” said Mayer. “But that’s really what it does, stabilizes the budget process at the state level and gives some incentives and encouragement to local governments to work together.”

Under Prop 31, local governments could develop their own procedures to administer state programs. That has opponents particularly concerned. Tom Adams, Co-Chair of the No on 31campaign, fears it could allow local politicians to undermine state laws.

“If local governments wanted to preempt the clean air act or preempt provisions of the clean water act, or change Medi-Cal eligibility standards, they would be able to do these things,” said Adams.

The measure would also require the legislature to make bills public at least three days before a vote. All of the changes would amend California’s constitution. Republicans for the most part support the measure. Democrats generally do not.