California Proposition 32, the "Paycheck Protection" Initiative (2012)
To earn a spot on the state's 2012 ballot, sponsors of the initiative were required to collect 504,760 signatures by October 24, 2011. They submitted approximately 900,000 signatures to county election officials on October 7. On December 6, the California Secretary of State announced that the proposition was certified for the November 2012 ballot.
If approved, the initiative will:
- Prohibit the government from deducting union dues from government employee paychecks that will be used for political purposes.
- Ban contributions to candidate-controlled committees by corporations and labor unions.
- Ban contractors who receive government contracts from donating to the officeholder who awarded the contract.
Jerry Brown signed SB 202 on October 7, 2011. SB 202 mandates that elections on ballot propositions can take place only in the state's November general elections. This changes a 50-year tradition in the state, begun in 1960, of voting on ballot propositions on the June primary ballot as well as the November general election ballot.
Several pundits speculated that Brown and the Democratic members of the California State Legislature who sponsored SB 202 were moved to action by the Paycheck Protection Initiative, and the possibility that it would gain a spot on the June 5, 2012 primary ballot in the state.
- According to Bill Whalen, "...before Brown’s intervention, one such conservative idea – a big one – was headed for a showdown in June 2012: weakening Big Labor’s clout by preventing unions from collecting dues for political purposes without a worker’s annual consent. [Under SB 202], that gets moved to November."
- Dan Walters, a leading political journalist in the state, said, "Everyone knows that [[[California Senate Bill 202 (2011)|passing SB 202]]] was to diminish chances that voters would pass a so-called "paycheck protection" measure that would eat into unions' ability to gather campaign funds from public employees – money that almost always goes to Democrats."
Thad Kousser, a political-science professor at UC San Diego, says that the Paycheck Protection Initiative could have a strong impact on the public sector (government employee) unions in the state: "Defeating this has got to be the top goal of labor. If they don't, they could become almost extinct in California politics."
- "Restricts union political fundraising by prohibiting use of payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Same use restriction would apply to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors. Permits voluntary employee contributions to employer or union committees if authorized yearly, in writing. Prohibits unions and corporations from contributing directly or indirectly to candidates and candidate-controlled committees. Other political expenditures remain unrestricted, including corporate expenditures from available resources not limited by payroll deduction prohibition. Limits government contractor contributions to elected officers or officer-controlled committees."
Estimated fiscal impact
(This is a summary of the initiative's estimated "fiscal impact on state and local government" prepared by the California Legislative Analyst's Office and the Director of Finance.)
- "Increased state implementation and enforcement costs of up to hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, potentially offset in part by revenues from fines."
- Former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz supports the initiative. He says, "This initiative gets to the heart of one of the most corrosive elements in politics: campaign contributions...For too long, special interest money has dominated our politics, muting the voice of average Californians."
- Michael Capaldi, an attorney in Newport Beach. He says, "In a perfect world, this wouldn't be needed. But it is so far beyond debate that special interests control Sacramento."
- Mark Bucher, an Orange County attorney.
- The California Labor Federation
- Dave Low, the executive director of the California School Employees Association
- Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation, says, "It's not enough for them to have taken our houses and it's not enough for them to make millions off the TARP funding and federal government support for the banks, now they want even more. They want us to not even have a voice in politics whatsoever."
- Columnist Thomas Elias says, the "initiative's ban on contributions to candidate-controlled committees is meaningless, merely a cover for another blatant attempt to reduce funds for liberal candidates while letting contributions to conservatives continue unfettered."
- Ron Lind, the president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5, says, "The measure is a wolf in sheep's clothing designed to fool voters into approving a corporate power grab that will lead to even more corporate influence over our political system. What the backers won't say publicly is that they've written a giant loophole to allow for unlimited corporate spending on campaigns while furthering their real agenda of silencing the voices of middle-class workers and their unions."
- State representative Linda Sanchez says, "This paycheck deception is the No. 1 target to silence the voices of hard-working families, and it's a crime."
- State representative Judy Chu says, "This is the most dangerous proposition of all time. It will silence the union members and their voices."
The state's public sector (government employee) unions are expected to provide more than $28 million to the campaign to defeat the Paycheck Protection Initiative.
Path to the ballot
- See also: California signature requirements
- A letter requesting a title and summary for the proposed initiative was signed by Ashlee N. Titus, and was received by the Attorney General of California's office on April 1, 2011.
- To earn a spot on the state's 2012 ballot, sponsors of the initiative were required to collect 504,760 signatures by October 24, 2011.
- They submitted approximately 900,000 signatures to county election officials on October 7.
- On December 6, the California Secretary of State announced that the proposition was certified for the November 2012 ballot.
- Letter requesting a ballot title for Initiative 11-0010
- "Stop Special Interest Money Now", website advocating in favor of the Paycheck Protection Initiative
- Business Week, "Measure to curb union, corporate clout qualifies", December 8, 2011
- Sacramento Bee, "Backers of 'paycheck protection' measure submit signatures", October 7, 2011
- Human Events, "Paycheck Protection Makes a California Comeback", October 19, 2011
- KCRA, "At 100, California Direct Democracy Gets Facelift", October 10, 2011
- Ricochet, "California's Initiative Process Turns 100", October 10, 2011
- Sacramento Bee, "California politicans use power to fix the ballot game", January 30, 2012
- Mercury News, "High-stakes labor battle coming to California", January 30, 2012
- Sacramento Bee, "'Reform' initiative wears a soiled white hat", December 22, 2011
- Redding Record-Searchlight, "One-sided 'paycheck protection'", February 26, 2012
- Mercury News, "Ron Lind: Special interest ballot measure really is just anti-union", March 2, 2012
- San Gabriel Valley Tribune, "Teamsters rally against ballot initiative in El Monte", April 14, 2012
- Sacramento Bee, "Californians to Watch: Campaign consultant Gale Kaufman makes labor's case to voters", December 27, 2011