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Crunch Time for California
The stretch to the polling booth…

[by Jon Coupal] 9/27/05

During the next six weeks, Californians are going to be hit with an intense blast of political advertising for the November 8th special election. There are two reasons most of this advertising will be paid for by the government union opponents of the Governor. First, these groups represent the best-financed special interest in California and, second, they view this as the best (and maybe last) opportunity to take Arnold down a peg or two.

The media blitz will, of course, cause voters to complain about negative advertising and how it seems that we now have elections every year. These complaints have at least some basis given that we have now had elections for four successive years.

But California voters need to remember how dysfunctional California was just a couple of years ago and stay focused on continuing the long journey of reform.

Jon Coupal

Jon Coupal is an attorney and president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association -- California's largest taxpayer organization with offices in Los Angeles and Sacramento. [go to website] [go to Coupal index]

First, let's stop complaining about "ballot fatigue." We live in a democracy and, as such, we have a responsibility to participate in the political process. If Afghanis and Iraqis can weather snipers, artillery shells and suicide bombers on the way to the voting booth, then surely we can get off our comfortable American posteriors to do likewise.

Second, there is a perception that the issues on the ballot are neither sufficiently substantive nor pressing to warrant a special election. As to the substance, a case could be made that the issues on the ballot really aren't radical enough. Indeed, from our vantage point, most of these messages should hardly garner controversy at all.

Proposition 74 would merely extend the probationary period for public school teachers before we give them tenure for life. Proposition 75 (despite the howls of protest from union bosses) simply requires that employee organizations get their members' permission before using members' dues to advance political causes with which the members might disagree.

Proposition 76 is very modest budget reform. Although it is not a true spending cut which many of us fiscal conservatives would have preferred, it nonetheless represents a positive step in the recovery of California's financial health. The proposal just says that, as a state, we cannot spend more money than we take in. What is so radical about that? This simple reform also would give the Governor and the Legislature the ability to make mid-year adjustments in the budget if revenues take a precipitous fall. Far from being a "power grab" as the unions allege, this simply gives the Governor the power that other governors around the nation already have and previous California Governors, including George Deukmajian, had just a few years ago.

Proposition 77 merely calls for fair political boundaries. All voters need to know about this is that some Democrats call it a Republican plot and some Republicans call it a Democrat plot. The folks most upset about this are incumbents in safe districts who don't want to work for reelection. Anyone who favors more responsive elected officials should support this measure.

Clearly, from the above, these proposals are modest in scope. But let's not underestimate the importance of this election. This may be one of the few elections where the perception of the outcome becomes the reality. If Schwarzenegger wins some or all of these proposals, it will lay the foundation for some of his other proposals which, because of an intransigent Legislature, gained little ground. His efforts to revamp the ponderous state bureaucracy come immediately to mind.

We also hope that Californians understand that the progress we have already achieved -- closing the deficit, workers comp reform, better business climate and a better state credit rating -- are due to the perseverance of our Governor. Oh, and by the way, he hasn't raised taxes.

Fortunately, we don't believe he will be shy about reminding voters where we were compared to where we are now. CRO

Jon Coupal is an attorney and President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

copyright 2005 Howard Jarvis Taxpayers association



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