Quantcast

Archive for the ‘California State Budget’ Category



Senate Sniper: Babs, Carly, Mobsters & Malfeasants

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

The two faces of Babs: Not since the Port Huron Statement was drafted  has there been as big a collection of left-wingers as that which gathered in San Francisco Wednesday to dedicate a train station.

Led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a parade of libs that included, but was not limited to, Barbara Boxer, Willie Brown, Gavin Newsom and George Miller offered a surfeit of mutual encomiums and plaudits on the occasion of the groundbreaking of the new regional Transbay Transit Center, being built in part with federal stimulus funds.

The presence at the festivities of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who is technically, um, a Republican, however, appeared not only to have put a damper on blatant partisan rhetoric, but also to have led to one of the most astonishing, man-bites-dog statements in the history of politics, straight from the maw of the Junior Senator from California, who was heard to say:

Lord knows we need to work across party lines, particularly in times like these.

Lord knows indeed.

Stop the presses, Maude: Barbara Boxer, the original tax loving, tree hugging, nuke hating, latte sipping, Chablis sucking, Marin County peacock feather hot tubbing scourge of oil companies, warmongers and Republicans of every stripe actually endorsed bipartisanship.

Bring on the Calbuzz fainting couch.

But wait: Just when we feared Babs might lose her lifetime senior citizen SDS honorary membership card, we were relieved to receive a copy of the latest e-blast fundraising pitch from her leadership PAC.

On behalf of Dems running in three open Senate seats, Boxer writes:

If we don’t hold on to these three Democratic seats, Republicans will increase their efforts to bring our legislative agenda to a standstill. That means more breaks for big corporations, more roll-backs of environmental protections, and few people fighting for American consumers.

Lord knows.

Just askin’: One of the three worthies that Babs is tin cupping for (the other two are Dick Blumenthal in Connecticut and Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania) is Alexi Giannoulias, the Illinois state Treasurer, who’s seeking Barack Obama’s old seat.

Alexi Giannoulias? Really?

At a time when congressional Dems across the nation are trying to out-run the ethical cloud hanging over longtime New York Rep. Charlie Rangel, and when Boxer is already being slapped around by Republican rival Carly Fiorina for her relationship with Rep. Maxine Waters, who’s also facing House ethics charges, does Babs really want to be shaking people down for  Giannoulias, scion of Chicago’s scandal-ridden Broadway Bank?

In her fundraising e-mail, Boxer calls Giannoulias an “excellent progressive candidate” who “is known as a people’s champion.”

Well, but…

In Chicago, Giannoulias is also known as the guy who, as senior loan officer, oversaw $20 million in loans to two convicted mobsters from his family’s bank, which also lent another $22.5 million to now-convicted political fixer Tony Rezko, a few months after Giannoulias left his post.

We’re just sayin’.

On the other hand: The hits just keep comin’ for Hurricane Carly’s fine stewardship of HP. Now she’s been named to the Top 20 “all-time malfeasants” list of business execs who got away with murder outrageous corporate parachutes.

Not Really: Some time around 11 am on Wednesday, Jerry Brown tweeted: “Take a look at this picture of me with the godfather of soul, James Brown: http://bit.ly/bqtFmO.”

Which led to a Flickr page with this shot of Jerry Brown and James Brown and this notation: “The photo was taken 7 hours ago using a Canon MF 4320-4350.” But we don’t think so, since James Brown DIED on Christmas Day in 2006, which would mean Jerry would have been posing with a really live looking mummy which we are not aware of. Memo to Jerry: You look old enough already; don’t pose with dead guys.

Whitmanopoly: HT to Roy Rivenburg, former humor writer for the By God LATimes (who knew they EVER had any humor there?) who has come up with a great new board game: Whitmanopoly, California’s Election Buying Game, which demonstrates a keen nose for the news and eye for the absurd.  All this lifted directly from Roy’s site, notthelatimes.com:

RULES OF PLAY

PREPARATION: Meg Whitman starts the game with $150 million. Jerry Brown gets $20 million and an autographed poster of Linda Ronstadt.

TOKENS: Brown travels around the board with a 1974 Plymouth. Whitman commandeers a wheelbarrow of cash.

SCANDAL: When a player lands on SCANDAL, he or she is caught in an orgy with Lindsay Lohan, Mel Gibson and the city manager of Bell, and is sent to BAD PRESS. Do not pass DOUGH, do not collect campaign donations.

INCOME TAX: If a player lands on this space, he or she must propose a 20% tax hike to erase California’s budget deficit. The player then automatically loses the election and the game is over. The same thing happens when a player lands on BUDGET AX and proposes drastic cuts to popular programs.

BORDER SECURITY: When a player lands here, he must take a stand on illegal immigration, inevitably alienating a large bloc of voters and losing one turn. Exception: Whitman may take both sides on the issue, one in her English TV ads and another in Spanish-language spots.

BUYING VOTES: Instead of houses and hotels, players who land on a community buy radio and TV ads, skywriting messages and attack mailers. Or they can hire Leonardo DiCaprio to plant ballot instructions in voters’ minds. If both players land on the same space, a televised debate is held. However, the candidates must speak only in vague generalities and discuss inconsequential issues such as who should replace Ellen on “American Idol” and whether Comic-Con should move from San Diego to Anaheim.

DOUGH: Each time a player’s token passes DOUGH, he or she receives new campaign donations. Whitman writes herself a check for any amount. Brown holds a Hollywood fundraiser (costing him one turn), or instantly collects $1 million by kowtowing to public-employee unions.

There’s so much more at Roy’s site.

Mining the Field Poll: Climate Change, Gov, Senate

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Buried in last week’s Field Poll were some nifty data that confirm something Calbuzz has been arguing for quite a while: that California’s pioneering climate-change law, and now Prop. 23 which seeks to suspend it, is a key political marker in the governor’s race and in the Senate race as well.

The Field Poll found Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman in a statistical tie – 44% for Brown and 43% for Whitman. When a political contest is tied, analysts like to find variables that demonstrate powerful — significant — differences.

Party registration is always one of the most muscular variables. About 74% of Democrats are supporting Brown, for example, and about 80% of Republicans are supporting Whitman.

The Field Poll  also found that Prop. 23, the measure to suspend AB32’s requirement to rollback the level of greenhouse gases in California, is running behind, with 48% of the voters opposed and 36% in favor – generally regarded as a weak starting point for a ballot measure.*

But a separate crosstab that the Field Poll ran at our request showed that voters who favor Prop. 23 are supporting Whitman over Brown by 55-34% while those who oppose the measure are supporting Brown  by 54-34% — virtual mirror images.

At the same time, and even more impressive: Whitman voters are supporting Prop. 23 by 45-36% but Brown supporters are opposing the measure by an even stronger 60-28%. These are differences you can call statistically significant.

Some, but not all of this is the effect of party registration, since Democrats oppose Prop. 23 by 57-31% and Republicans support it 47-33%. But it’s also clear that there’s some powerful correlation going on between opposition to overturning AB32 and who voters are supporting in the governor’s race.

It’s important, too, that independents – who are supporting Whitman over Brown by just 42-39% — also are opposed to Prop. 23 by 53-29%. If Brown makes those independents aware that Whitman has called for a suspension of the state’s climate-change law, it could create a problem for Whitman among this important group of voters.

There’s a strong connection between Prop. 23 and the Senate race, too.

Fiorina voters favor Prop. 23 by 47-34% while Boxer voters are opposed 62-27%. At the same time, supporters of Prop. 23 favor Fiorina over Boxer by 58-35% while opponents of Prop. 23 favor Boxer 60-32%.

The undecideds in the Senate race are opposed to the measure 47-28% — giving Boxer an opening to make inroads among voters who haven’t made up their mind about the Senate race but who know for sure they don’t want to roll back California’s climate change law.

Digging further into the Field Poll crosstabs yielded some other nuggets:

– Brown’s favorable-unfavorable ratio among Democrats is just 68-15%, the reverse of his standing among Republicans which is 68-15% unfavorable. But among non-partisans – the true swing vote in California — Brown’s got a further problem: his standing is 47-34% unfavorable. On the other hand, his ratio is 50-34% favorable among moderates.

– Among voters age 18-29, 35% have no opinion about Brown, among voters 30-39, 33% have no clue about him and three in 10 Latinos have no opinion about him. In other words, Brown has an enormous task ahead introducing himself to young voters before they hear about him from Whitman.

– Whitman’s got favorability problems of her own. Her status among Republicans is 65-18% favorable and among Democrats it’s 60-20% unfavorable. Like Brown, the independents have an unfavorable view of her – 46-40%. Unlike Brown, moderates have a negative view of her, too: 45-39% unfavorable.

– Despite spending a jillion dollars on TV and radio ads in the past few months, she’s not much better known among the 18-29 year-old voters than Brown is: 30% have no opinion of her and among those who have an opinion it’s 43-27% unfavorable. (The younger voters who know Brown like him a lot more: 39-26% favorable.)

– Worst of all for eMeg: women don’t seem to like her much. Her favorability, which is 42-40% on the unfavorable side is driven mostly by women. Men see her favorably 43-41% but women lean 43-37% unfavorable.

* Since the initiative and referendum were created just after the turn of the century in California, the “no” position on propositions has beaten the “yes” position about two-thirds of the time. When a proposition begins with less than 60% support, it’s historically in trouble. That can change if enough money and resources are thrown into the mix. But it’s tough. It doesn’t help the “yes” side when proponents advance silly arguments like we heard last week from John Kabateck, Executive Director of the National Federation of Independent Business/California, a co-chair of the Prop. 23 campaign.

Here’s the question that Field asked:

Have you seen, read or heard anything about a statewide ballot proposition to suspend state air pollution control and greenhouse gas emission laws until unemployment is reduced in California?

(As you know) this proposition would suspend state laws requiring reduced greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming until California’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive quarters. It requires the state to abandon its comprehensive greenhouse gas reduction program that includes increased renewable energy, cleaner fuel requirements and mandatory reporting and fees for major polluters such as power plants and oil refineries until the suspension is lifted. If the election were being held today, would you vote YES or NO on this proposition?

The complaint from the so-called “California Jobs Initiative”?

Most importantly, the survey failed to mention anything about the costs of AB 32 implementation, which are projected to run in the billions in higher electricity, natural gas, gasoline and diesel costs and to cause the loss of over a million jobs.

And then — we’re not making this up — after trashing the poll, they trotted out the old chestnut: “the only poll that counts is the one on election day” argument.

“The only poll that matters is the one that will go before voters on November 2nd, “concluded Kabateck. “We’re confident that when voters have all the facts they’ll vote for jobs, affordable energy and fiscal responsibility – that means a Yes vote on Prop. 23.”

Why Goo Goo Plans are Toast; Labor Runs Amok

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

We come to bury California Forward, not to praise it. The goo goo reform plan, now subsumed into SCA 19, contains a host of worthy measures affecting budgeting and spending. But it’s the much-needed centerpiece – reducing the two-thirds vote needed to approve the state budget – that is its undoing. For now.

Why? Because to put the measure on the ballot will itself require a two-thirds vote, which won’t happen because even if all the Democrats lined up together – and that’s not at all certain – the Republicans would kill it.

As His Royal Walters wrote last week: “Politically, the plan appears to be a nonstarter.”

Loyal Calbuzzers know that we have long argued that without a variety of reforms – including majority vote on the state budget — California will remain fundamentally ungovernable.

Sure, a governor and Legislature will play their roles, budgets will be passed, schools and prisons will operate, the state will function. But California will continue to float along like a raft on the ocean, not like a true ship of state being steered along a certain course.

Besides the majority-vote budget provision, the SCA 19 – at the request of California Forward – also includes a provision that says:

any bill that imposes a fee shall be passed by not less than two-thirds of all Members elected to each of the two houses of the Legislature if revenue from the fee would be used to fund a program, service, or activity that was previously funded by revenue from a tax that is repealed or reduced in the same fiscal year or in a prior fiscal year.”

Now, Jim Mayer and Fred Silva of Cal Forward – two really smart guys whose thinking we respect – say this is NOT an attack on the Sinclair Paint decision (which Calbuzz has covered exhaustively) that allows the Legislature to raise fees by majority vote as long as there is a “nexus” between the fee and the service it pays for.

They say it only would apply to a limited situation in which a fee was proposed to replace a specific excise tax used to fund a specific program, service or activity. The measure was inserted, Mayer said, “in order to build some support for majority vote from business groups who would otherwise kill the bill.”

Which kinda underscores our point:  If it doesn’t affect Sinclair, why do it at all? Because, they say, some business interests are worried that the Legislature will try a massive bait-and-switch, swapping out tax-based revenues with majority-vote fees.

The way we read the measure, it does affect Sinclair since every program, service and activity is funded by “revenue from a tax,” and so, any place where the Legislature wanted to subvent tax funds with fee funds would require a two-thirds vote – which under Sinclair only requires a majority. But we’re not what you might call your “tax experts.”

Anyway, even if the liberals go along – and if just a few of them read this like we do, that’s not likely – the Republicans are not likely to give away their one-third-vote leverage. Which is why we say you can stick a fork in Cal Forward’s proposal.

Back Away From the IPhone!

Back in January, Calbuzz was first to break the news that three longtime Democrats from a new Silicon Valley firm were rolling out “a product that – for better or worse — promises to cut dramatically the cost of gathering signatures for ballot initiatives by using social networking and touch-screen technology.”

Verafirma Inc.’s Democracy Project, founded by Jude Barry, Michael Marubio and Steve Churchwell, we reported, makes it possible for activists to use email, Facebook and other social networking venues to distribute ballot initiative language and arguments, and to collect and verify signatures from users who have an iPhone, Droid or other new generation touch-screen device.

So when we heard about Barry, a Calbuzz contributor, getting blacklisted by Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, we thought it was just a case of union protectionism run amok.

The ostensible reason for placing Barry and his firm, Catapult Strategies, on the  “do not patronize” list was that Verafirma is selling its signature-gathering technology to the folks trying to qualify a ballot measure for “paycheck protection” — labor’s most-hated proposal which would ban use of union dues for political purposes.

This didn’t make any sense. Verafirma is licensing use of a technology that anybody can use. It’s as if they’d come up with a pedestrian GPS system and Republican precinct walkers wanted to use it. It’s like selling electronic clipboards and pens. The technology is neutral. It’s like blacklisting an iPod dealer because right-wingers are buying and using his product.

But then we read Internal Affairs in the Mercury News and nosed around a bit more and it all came clear: Pulaski was doing the dirty work for Cindy Chavez, who heads the South Bay Labor Council and who is supporting Forrest Williams for county supervisor. Barry is working for Teresa Alvarado, seeking that same seat on the county board.

Chavez told the Mercury News she didn’t draft the Pulaski letter, although she knew it was in the works. And she took a whack at Barry for allowing “a company of his to support taking the right away from working men and women to speak politically.”

Calbuzz has no candidate in the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors race. We just think Barry  — who worked for Ted Kennedy and Howard Dean, ferchristsake — is getting rat-fucked. Sure paycheck protection is anti-union. And one of Barry’s defenses — that it wasn’t his personal account at Verafirma — is specious.

But none of that should matter: he’s done nothing to challenge labor’s right to organize or influence politics. This stinks.

FPPC Lets Newsom Double Dip: Calbuzz called attention to a loophole in the law governing contributions a while back but the FPPC has decided that you can run for one office, max out to the limit, drop from that race and enter another and max out again from the same donors. This lets Gavin Newsom, now a candidate for gov lite, go back to all those donors who gave him $25,900 when he was a candidate for governor. Whatever.

Why Killing AB32 is a Long Shot and Other Bad Bets

Monday, March 29th, 2010

We happen to have in our hot little Calbuzz claws some summary results from a February poll by FM3 (Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz) for the defenders of AB32 that found that after voters are read the Attorney General’s title and summary for the measure to repeal AB32 they oppose it 46-37%.

According to the survey — 600 likely November voters, +/- 4% — opposition grows when voters realize oil companies are behind the drive to overturn AB32. Which won’t be hard to argue because it’s TRUE, as the Sac B Minus and others have noted. In fact, says Steve Maviglio, who’s hacking and flacking for the save AB32 forces, more than 72% of the money behind the effort to overturn AB32 has come from — Michael Huffington drum roll please — Texas oil companies you just can’t trust.

Another reason to like the opposition on this one: since the creation of initiatives in California, “no” has beaten “yes” two-thirds of the time. The only other polling we’ve seen was back in July, when PPIC asked whether people support the state law reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Support for what is a description of AB32: 66% favor, 23% opposed.

We’re not sure what the effect will be of having Gov. Schwarzenegger — who has long been a defender of AB32 — suddenly skim back his support by calling for a “more carefully phased approach” in implementing the law. But as we get deeper and deeper into the campaign season, Gov. Schwarzmuscle becomes increasingly less significant. And we expect Crusty the General Brown to hammer on the climate-change issue relentlessly — in part because the environment is an issue that resonates with moderate, non-partisan voters who will ultimately decide the election.

Dumb and dumber: One of the dumbest, and most common, mistakes committed by political writers the world over (even Calbuzz may have succumbed once or twice) is to assume that the future will look like the present.

As Walter Shapiro notes, arguing persuasively in Politics Daily against over-interpreting the impact of health care reform on the mid-term election, the issues that are hot at the end of a campaign are seldom those that pundits focus on in spring or summer:

Cable TV news and hyperdrive Internet publications like the Politico tend to divine major political implications from everything, with the possible exception of Starbucks introducing a soymilk Frappuccino. The institutional bias that governs this type of political coverage is to overreact to the here and now. The working assumption is that the future will be just like the present except for the addition of a few random fluctuations to enhance the story line.

The Shapiro Thesis is, of course, the operating assumption underlying the apparent equanimity of Steve Poizner’s handlers in the face of eMeg’s 8,000 point lead in the Republican primary, and of Jerry Brown’s Zen-like shrugs at the sight of Whitman surging past him in the polls, on the strength of her all-eMeg-all-the-time TV offensive.

While Her Megness so far has had the luxury of framing and defining the election on her terms, should she turn out to be the Republican nominee for governor, things are likely to look very different down the road a piece.

Here’s a look at three low-radar factors that may mushroom into major matters in Whitman’s November match-up with Jerry Brown, or even the final weeks of Poizner’s uphill struggle against Ms. Head and Shoulders Potato Head:

The CEO factor – For now, eMeg keeps gaining traction for her core message that executive business experience is just about the perfect fit for what ails the government of California. But as we’ve noted repeatedly from the first weeks of the campaign, running a business has almost exactly nothing to do with managing the day to day political cross currents and rip tides of Sacramento, a point that is well amplified in a must-read piece by Newsweek’s Andrew Romano and Michael Hirsh:

Very little that happens inside a corporate suite is like governing a state or a country. CEOs, like generals, can issue orders and expect them to be carried out. Jobs and budgets can be pared by fiat, with little public controversy. It’s not nearly as simple for governors or senators—even presidents. Their authority is never absolute. They are constrained by the separation of powers and forced to ride the tiger of public opinion; they must persuade, cajole, and arm-twist to get their way.

As Harry Truman once said about his presidential successor, Dwight Eisenhower: “He’ll sit there all day saying do this, do that, and nothing will happen. Poor Ike—it won’t be a bit like the Army.” Beyond that, there’s rarely been a time in American industry when CEOs have been so discredited. The last “CEO presidency”—George W. Bush’s—ended up in a ditch. The CEOs of Wall Street have provoked outrage by awarding themselves record bonuses during the worst recession in decades—a recession they mainly caused.

The Goldman Sachs scandal – eMeg’s past shady, and legally questionable, dealings with the world’s largest greed head investment firm is the case study
that precisely makes the point about the dangers of CEOs grabbing the levers of government power, which is one major source of the seething resentment of voters across the nation.

What kind of business relationship can Californians expect their state to have with Goldman Sachs and firms like it if Meg Whitman becomes governor? Here’s a clue: In a report called “Corporate cash boosts Whitman,” the Associated Press reported that “The biggest donations came from New York investment bankers, hedge fund managers, attorneys and others.” If there’s one thing these guys know it’s how to prime the pump.

Not that Whitman’s old pals at Goldman haven’t already been profiting off California’s misery. They were hired to manage some multibillion dollar state bond offerings but, as reported in the Los Angeles Times, millions in fees didn’t stop Goldman from secretly undermining California’s credit rating. That hurt the very sales they were hired to manage. As the Times states, the firm “urged some of its big clients to place investment bets against California bonds” by “proposing a way for … clients to profit from California’s deepening financial misery.”

Ideology – The unintended consequence of Poizner running so hard to the right in the primary is that, for the moment at least, Whitman often appears to be a moderate Republican and, thus, a more attractive and more formidable candidate for the general election race against Brown.

But Press Corps Elders George Skelton and Peter Schrag have dug into eMeg’s much-trumpeted 48-page policy agenda (which the nit-picking Dan Morain estimates actually to be only about 20 pages, after subtracting the page presentation gee-gaws and glam shots of Herself) and concluded that any moderation perceived in eMeg’s views is mostly accidental, a perspective Brown has already seized on in his recent populist pronouncements.

Meg Whitman’s Republican rival calls her a liberal. He’s not even close. Political writers often describe her as moderate. That misses the mark too.

Supporting abortion rights — even state funding of abortions for the poor — doesn’t automatically make her a moderate. Not when she’s prepared to whack benefits for welfare moms — slash almost any program — to avoid raising taxes.

She opposes same-sex marriage but supports recognizing those unions allowed before Proposition 8 passed. That doesn’t make her a moderate either. Not when she insists on eliminating 40,000 state jobs.

Calbuzz bottom line: It’s usually a mistake to confuse rookie phenoms of spring training with the veteran ballplayers who usually make the big plays in the World Series.

Fuck you, you fucking fuck: Kudos to Carl Cannon for putting into clear historic context Joe Biden’s healthy cussing kudo to the President moments before Obama signed the health care reform legislation, a usage much panned by the prudes and prisses of the internets and cable TV. As Cannon notes the f-bomb has a proud and rich history in American politics, not least as used by his own father, the renowned Lou Cannon, upon beholding the beauty of a Sandy Koufax perfect game.

2010: Initiatives Pandemic! Goo-Goos Run Wild!

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

pokerBack in August we warned of a back-room deal inside California Forward – the good government reform group – that involved taking away the Legislature’s ability to raise fees by majority vote in exchange for allowing the state budget to be passed by majority vote instead of the two-thirds required now.

Not much of a deal for liberals, since California Forward’s proposals still would require a two-thirds vote to raise taxes, and it’s unclear how significant the former would be without the latter.

But the process people – the folks who believe that passing a budget by majority vote is crucial to governing and would give the majority party a modicum of more running room – were so eager to make it possible to pass budgets that they were willing to trade off a right recognized by the courts in Sinclair Paint vs. Board of Equalization, 15 Cal.4th at 881.

sinclairpaintThat’s the authority of the Legislature to impose “mitigation fees” on business with a majority vote. Although the Legislature has never done it, there was consideration in the last set of budget negotiations of raising state park entry fees to cover costs that previously had been paid by tax revenues. Under Sinclair, it appears, the Legislature might well be able to do that with a majority vote.

Now California Forward has submitted two initiatives for the 2010 ballot. The first is focused on improving the budget process, both with the majority vote and by introducing a batch of newfangled management techniques like, oh say, “results and accountability.” The second is aimed at beginning to untangle the knotty relationship between state and local governments.

As we first reported, the proposal offered by California Forward would take away the Legislature’s Sinclair-backed authority to levy fees by majority vote, a power that manufacturers and other industries view with considerable anxiety. Here’s what it says (strikeout is language that is killed and underline is new language):

SECTION SEVEN. Section 3 of Article XIII A of the California Constitution is amended to read:

SEC. 3. From and after the effective date of this article, any changes in state taxes enacted for the purpose of increasing revenues collected pursuant thereto whether by increased rates, or changes in methods of computation, or imposition of a new tax, must be imposed by an Act passed by not less than two-thirds of all members elected to each of the two houses of the Legislature, except that no new ad valorem taxes on real property, or sales or transaction taxes on the sales of real property may be imposed. In addition, any bill that imposes a fee that replaces revenue that in the same or the prior fiscal year was generated by a tax must be passed by no less than two-thirds of all members elected to each of the two houses of the Legislature.

Fred Keeley, Cal Forward’s most avid pro-tax liberal, says he’s thinks giving up the majority vote on fees that replace taxes in exchange for a majority vote on the budget is a good deal. And Bob Hertzberg, the former Assembly Speaker and co-chairman of Cal Forward, thinks it’s not even a close call.

Calbuzz has no dog in the fight, other than to call attention to the fact that this is something the business interests in California have been adamant about and – with this measure – would obtain.

Take the initiative: Cal Forward is the ultimate non-partisan goo-goo group – backed by the California Endowment, Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, and David and Lucile Packard Foundation and other non-profit heavyweights – and its reform package is far more incremental than the constitutional convention agenda being pushed by the Bay Area Council and its allies, also for the 2010 ballot.

In submitting their measures to the Secretary of State, Cal Forward put out a FAQ that took a gentle jab at the con-con idea:

 

“A convention would bring several hundred volunteers together for a limited time to discuss many possible ways for changing California’s Constitution – there’s no telling what decisions they would make (emphasis ours). The California Forward plan instead takes specific policies that are already working in other states and put them to work in California, helping us balance our budget, improve services and reduce waste.

Sniff, sniff.

P.S. Assuming Cal Forward and the Bay Area Council both qualify their measures for 2010, the internecine reform battle will be just one intriguing feature of what is shaping as a most entertaining ballot, with free-swinging proposals on legalizing marijuana, cracking down on public employee pensions and rewriting Prop. 13 to allow split roll assessments among the dozens of initiatives in various stages of qualifying.

Latest tally from the Secretary of State’s offices shows four measures already qualified for the ballot (three in the primary and the big water bond in the general) with 24 in circulation for signatures and other 51 awaiting Title and Summary in Jerry Brown’s office (here’s hoping the AG isn’t taping calls about all of them, or we’ll never get voter handbooks mailed out in time).

lisavFollow that scooplet: Speaking of initiatives, nice work by Lisa Vorderbrueggen over at Political Blotter, who flagged a Center for Governmental Studies report showing that most of the ballot measures hamstringing the Governor and Legislature on budget matters come from…the Governor and Legislature.

“Most of the ballot-box budgeting has come from you,” Bob Stern, president of the goo-goo  group (they’re everywhere!) told the Senate and Assembly Select Committees on Improving State Government, which met in Oakland last week.

“A new analysis from the nonprofit Center for Governmental Studies…shows that of the $11.85 billion worth of ballot measures voters approved between 1988 and 2009, 83 percent were placed on the ballot by the Legislature…

So much for all the national media geniuses who parachuted in to report on California’s budget mess and concluded that the main problem is those whacky Left Coast voters running amok with goofy initiatives.