California Proposition 31, Two-Year State Budget Cycle (2012)
|Type:||Initiated amendment & statute|
|Referred by:||Petition signatures|
- 1 Election results
- 2 Text of measure
- 3 Constitutional changes
- 4 Support
- 5 Opposition
- 6 Editorial opinion
- 7 Polling information
- 8 Path to the ballot
- 9 External links
- 10 References
If Proposition 31 had been approved, it would have:
- Established a two-year state budget cycle.
- Prohibited the California State Legislature from "creating expenditures of more than $25 million unless offsetting revenues or spending cuts are identified."
- Permitted the Governor of California to cut the budget unilaterally during declared fiscal emergencies if the state legislature fails to act.
- Required performance reviews of all state programs.
- Required performance goals in state and local budgets.
- Required publication of all bills at least three days prior to a vote by the California State Senate or California State Assembly.
- Given counties the power to alter state statutes or regulations related to spending unless the state legislature or a state agency vetoed those changes within 60 days.
- See also: 2012 ballot measure election results
|California Proposition 31|
- These final, certified, results are from the California Secretary of State.
Text of measure
The state's official voter guide included two summaries for each statewide ballot measure. One summary, in bullet-point format, appeared in the long-form description of each measure. A shorter form of the summary appeared on the ballot label in the front of the voter guide, where there was a short description of each measure.
The long-form summary for Proposition 31 said:
The short-form (ballot label) summary for Proposition 31 said:
|"Establishes two-year state budget. Sets rules for offsetting new expenditures, and Governor budget cuts in fiscal emergencies. Local governments can alter application of laws governing state-funded programs. Fiscal Impact: Decreased state sales tax revenues of $200 million annually, with corresponding increases of funding to local governments. Other, potentially more significant changes in state and local budgets, depending on future decisions by public officials."|
Neither of the two summaries in the final voter guide was identical to the summary that was originally given to Proposition 31, when its sponsors sought a summary prior to circulating petitions to qualify the measure for the ballot. The summary that was given by election officials to Proposition 31 at that time said:
|"Establishes two-year state budget cycle. Prohibits Legislature from creating expenditures of more than $25 million unless offsetting revenues or spending cuts are identified. Permits Governor to cut budget unilaterally during declared fiscal emergencies if Legislature fails to act. Requires performance reviews of all state programs. Requires performance goals in state and local budgets. Requires publication of all bills at least three days prior to legislative vote. Gives counties power to alter state statutes or regulations related to spending unless Legislature or state agency vetoes changes within 60 days."|
(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.)
|I • II • III • IV • V • VI • VII • VIII • IX • X • XA • XB • XI • XII • XIII • XIII A • XIII B • XIII C • XIII D • XIV • XV • XVI • XVIII • XIX • XIX A • XIX B • XIX C • XX • XXI • XXII • XXXIV • XXXV|
If Proposition 31 had been approved, it would have changed the California Constitution by:
- Amending Section 8 of Article IV.
- Adding a new Section 9.5 to Article IV.
- Amending Section 10 of Article IV.
- Amending Section 12 of Article IV.
- Adding an entirely new article, proposed Article XI A. (This article will be captioned, "Community Strategic Action Plans".)
- Amending Section 29 of Article XIII.
In addition to these proposed changes to the California Constitution, Proposition 31 also proposed various statutory changes. These would have changed California's Government Code and its Education Code.
The arguments in favor of Proposition 31 in the state's official voter guide were submitted by:
- The Hon. Cruz Reynoso. Reynoso is a retired justice of the California Supreme Court.
- The Hon. Delaine A. Eastin. Eastin is a former California Superintendent of Public Instruction.
- Prof. James Fishkin, Ph.D. Fishkin is affiliated with Stanford University.
- Bill Hauck. Hauck is the former chairman of the California Constitution Revision Commission.
Other supporters included:
Arguments in favor
- Cruz Reynoso, a former justice of the California Supreme Court, said, "Prop. 31 seeks to make it clear to Californians how the state is using their money. It requires that the state budget and all laws be made available for public input and review for at least three days prior to politicians voting on them. It's time lawmakers stopped passing the budget in the dark of night and shined some light on how our tax dollars are being spent."
The arguments presented in favor of Proposition 31 in the state's official voter guide included:
- "Proposition 31 forces state politicians to finally live within their means, and it gives voters and taxpayers critical information to hold politicians accountable."
- "The non-partisan state auditor reported in an audit of several state agencies between 2003 and 2010 that the state could have saved taxpayers approximately $1.2 billion had the auditor’s own proposals to reform operations and improve efficiency been enacted. The recent effort to create a unified Court Case Management System cost taxpayers more than $500 million, more than $200 million over budget, to connect just 7 of 58 counties before being abandoned."
- "Proposition 31 requires a real balanced budget. It stops billions of dollars from being spent without public review or citizen oversight. Unless we pass Proposition 31, hundreds of millions of dollars every year will continue to be wasted that could be better used for local schools, law enforcement and other community priorities."
- "Proposition 31 does not raise taxes, increase costs to taxpayers or set up any new government bureaucracy. Proposition 31 makes clear that its provisions should be implemented with existing resources—and it will generate savings by returning tax dollars to cities and counties."
| Total campaign cash |
as of November 3, 2012
The donors listed in the chart below are the $50,000 and over donors to the "Yes on 31" campaign as of Saturday, November 3, 2012. Note that one of these donors gave their money to a committee that was simultaneously supporting or opposing more than one of the ballot propositions on the November 6, 2012, ballot. When that is the case, it is not generally possible to break down how much of that donor's money specifically was spent on the campaign for a particular proposition. That contribution is listed below with shading; readers should not assume that all or even most of a donation to a multi-purpose committee was used for expenditures related to this particular proposition.
|Thomas McKernan, Jr.||$100,000|
|Small Business Action Committee||$63,000|
|New Majority California PAC||$50,000|
The arguments against Proposition 31 in the state's official voter guide were submitted by:
- Sarah Rose. Rose is the chief executive officer of the California League of Conservation Voters.
- Joshua Pechthalt. Pechthalt is the president of the California Federation of Teachers.
- Ron Cottingham. Cottingham is the president of the Peace Officers Research Association of California.
- Anthony Wright. Wright is the executive director of Health Access California.
- Lacy Barnes. Barnes is the senior vice-president of the California Federation of Teachers.
- Lenny Goldberg. Goldberg is the executive director of the California Tax Reform Association.
Other opponents included:
The arguments in opposition to Proposition 31 presented in the state's official voter guide included:
- "It will lead to lawsuits and confusion, not reform. We all want reform, but instead Proposition 31 adds bureaucracy and creates new problems. It adds layer upon layer of restrictions and poorly defined requirements, leaving key decisions up to unelected bureaucrats, decisions such as whether tax cuts are allowed or programs can be changed—decisions that will be challenged in court year after year."
- "The state can barely pay its bills now. And the majority of the state’s budget goes to education. Yet this measure transfers $200 million per year from state revenues into a special account to pay for experimental county programs. This is not the time to gamble with money that should be spent on our highest priorities."
- "As strange as it seems, Proposition 31 actually prevents the state from adopting improvements to programs like education or increasing funding to schools even if it has the money to do so, unless it raises taxes or cuts other programs."
- "The contradictory nature of these tax provisions would prohibit the state from cutting one tax unless it raises another, even when there is a budget surplus—either this was intended to prevent the state from cutting your taxes or is another case—a serious case—of careless drafting."
- "California has adopted statewide standards to protect public health, prevent contamination of air and water and provide for the safety of its citizens. Proposition 31 contains a provision that allows local politicians to alter or override these laws without a vote of the people, and without an effective way to prevent abuse."
- "Performance-based budgeting is more of a slogan than anything else. It’s been tried many times before. The one thing we know it will do is raise costs. The official fiscal analysis by the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office says it will raise the costs of government by tens of millions of dollars per year for new budgeting practices, with no guarantee any improvement will result. Certain costs, uncertain results."
Other arguments against Proposition 31 included:
- Political columnist Dan Walters said, "California needs a top- to-bottom overhaul that connects political decision-making to its unique social and economic reality and creates cause-and-effect accountability for those we elect to office. Proposition 31 is akin to giving someone with a flesh-eating infection an aspirin to relieve the pain momentarily when the patient truly needs radical surgery or powerful drugs to stop the infection."
- Opponents of the measure also argued that the initiative would "vastly expand the power of the governor by allowing him or her to cut or eliminate virtually any existing program during a fiscal emergency. This could mean midyear cuts to K-12 education, the state's public university system, and health care services for low-income households. The only way to prevent this would be a two-thirds vote of each legislative house - no small feat given that neither party holds a supermajority in the Assembly or Senate."
| Total campaign cash |
as of November 3, 2012
The donors listed in the chart below are the $25,000 and over donors to the "No on 31" campaign as of Saturday, November 3, 2012. Note that some of these donors gave their money to a committee that was simultaneously supporting or opposing more than one of the ballot propositions on the November 6, 2012, ballot. When that is the case, it is not generally possible to break down how much of that donor's money specifically was spent on the campaign for a particular proposition. Those contributions are listed below with shading; readers should not assume that all or even most of a donation to a multi-purpose committee was used for expenditures related to this particular proposition.
|Working Families Issues Committee (AFL-CIO)||$132,500|
|California State Council of Service Employees (SEIU)||$75,272|
|National Education Association||$60,025|
|California Teachers Association||$50,000|
|United Food & Commercial Workers||$50,000|
|Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs||$50,000|
|California School Employees Association||$25,000|
"Yes on 31"
- The Contra Costa Times: It "will help improve the work product of state government. It offers sane and long overdue reforms to the state budget process, it increases local government flexibility, and it begins to establish much tighter fiscal oversight on state spending, which is needed."
- The Daily Democrat (Woodland, California): "It might give the governor more power, but it would also give local government more funds as well as encourage collaboration among politicians."
- The Fresno Bee: "Now the voters have another chance to improve state government, this time by passing Proposition 31 on the Nov. 6 ballot. There are many reasons that this measure is needed. A major one is requiring transparency in a legislative system that does its significant business in secret."
- The Lompoc Record: "...because lawmakers have demonstrated an almost inborn inability to arrive at sane, balanced, fiscally responsible state budgets, Proposition 31 is sound public policy."
- The Long Beach Press-Telegram: "There is no magic bullet for fixing California's dysfunctional government. The job will never be complete. But Proposition 31 on the November ballot is one step in the right direction. And while it's not perfect, it's worthwhile."
- The Los Angeles Daily News: "It will help lawmakers make better decisions and give local governments sharper tools to solve complex problems."
- The Marin Independent Journal: "Proposition 31 is not perfect, but Sacramento isn't either."
- The Modesto Bee: "Proposition 31 will be a big step in improving the fiscal oversight of the state."
- The Redding Record Searchlight: "California Forward's plan is a lot to swallow. There's no way around that. But voters who digest it will see it promises more options for local decision-making, more transparency in the state Legislature and more long-term budget discipline in Sacramento."
- The San Bernardino Sun: "These reforms should gradually make the Legislature more accountable to every Californian."
- The San Diego Union-Tribune: "All of those are good ideas, though we worry that opponents may be right in arguing that the Proposition 31 language is imprecise and loose. If the critics are right – and the language of citizen initiatives is often badly flawed – then key elements could be ignored or, worse, turned on their head by legislators seeking to perpetuate the status quo. Still, we see important promise in Proposition 31."
- The San Francisco Chronicle: "Proposition 31 represents a modest set of reforms to the state budget process ... The package has drawn predictable fire from the Sacramento establishment and advocacy groups that do not want to put even the most reasonable restraints on government spending."
- The San Jose Mercury News: "There is no magic bullet for fixing California's dysfunctional government. The job will never be complete. But Proposition 31 on the November ballot is one step in the right direction, and while it's not perfect, it's worthwhile."
"No on 31"
- The Bay Area Reporter: "While establishing a two-year budget cycle has some advantages, this proposition meddles far too much in allowing local governments to ignore state mandated programs such as state environmental requirements. Further, it locks California into permanent underfunding of education, health, and other vital services. This is much too complicated a subject to address with an initiative constitutional amendment."
- The Los Angeles Times: "Proposition 31 is a little like the dreamy stranger glimpsed across a crowded room — alluring, exciting, all promise and possibility — who is revealed on closer inspection to be an unbalanced and dangerous monster. Is it a bad date, or just a Halloween movie? It's a real-life constitutional amendment, outwardly attractive but inside an absolute mess. California voters should run."
- The North County Times: "[Proposition 31] is perhaps the ultimate example of a great idea ruined through the details."
- The Orange County Register: "What troubles us is that for seemingly every welcome reform Prop. 31 would institute, it imposes other dubious changes that almost certainly will yield unintended or unwanted consequences."
- The Press-Enterprise: "Cramming a jumble of well-meaning, but tough to assess, reforms into one ballot vote is a clumsy way to spur change in California government. Voters should just say no to Prop. 31."
- The Sacramento Bee: The California Forward Action Fund is promoting a well-intended but flawed initiative that would amend the California Constitution. Voters should say, "thanks but no thanks" to Proposition 31.
- The San Francisco Bay Guardian: "We're also disturbed by the idea of giving governors unilateral authority to make cuts during years with big budget deficits, and with a requirement that new state programs must be tied to specific funding sources. Again, many of these ideas sound good at first glance, but placing new restrictions on Legislators will only hinder their ability to respond to problems and popular will. And giving the governor that much power is just dangerous."
- The Santa Cruz Sentinel: "It appears to be a common theme this year that many state ballot measures seem well-intentioned, but either are written poorly (Prop. 37), create more problems than they solve, or would be better taken up by our elected legislators. All three come into play on Proposition 31, which would shift some budget decision authority from the Legislature to the governor and from other powers from the state to local governments."
- The Ventura County Star: "The Star is well aware of, and shares, the public's frustration with many aspects of state government and state leaders. There may be an understandable tendency among some voters to throw up their hands and declare that the whole system needs a total overhaul. Instead of Proposition 31, however, it would be better to take up these ideas one at a time."
- The Victorville Daily Press: "What it gets down to is that, in our view, Proposition 31 would ultimately do more harm that good, chiefly by imposing yet another layer of government (and another set of public officials to absorb tax revenue) between the people and their elected officials. And elections, remember, are the main lever available to the public to get the kind of government it wants. We’re not at all sure what else is in Proposition 31 (it’s 9,000 words long and has 17 sections, and our eyes glazed over just looking at the first page of the proposal), and we suspect that’s by the authors’ design. It asks voters to approve something they don’t understand (remember ObamaCare?), which they’ll suffer the consequences of once it becomes law."
- See also: Polls, 2012 ballot measures
|Date of Poll||Pollster||In favor||Opposed||Undecided||Number polled|
|September 9-16, 2012||PPIC||25%||42%||32%||2,003|
|October 7-10, 2012||California Business Roundtable||37.6%||35.5%||26.9%||830|
|October 14-21, 2012||PPIC||24%||48%||28%||2,006|
|October 21-28, 2012||California Business Roundtable||37.8%||36.8%||25.5%||2,115|
Path to the ballot
- See also: California signature requirements
- Bruce McPherson and Sunne Wright McPeak submitted a letter requesting a ballot title on November 3, 2011.
- The ballot title and ballot summary were issued by the Attorney General of California's office on December 29, 2011.
- The 150-day circulation deadline for #11-0068 was May 29, 2012.
- 807,615 valid signatures were required for qualification purposes.
- Signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot were submitted to county election officials around the state on May 7, 2012.
- The California Secretary of State certified the measure for the ballot on June 26, 2012.
- Complete November 6, 2012 official voter guide
- Ballot title, summary and LAO analysis of Proposition 31
- Arguments for and against Proposition 31 in the official state voter guide
- Letter requesting a ballot title for Initiative 11-0068
- Living Voter's Guide to Proposition 31
- Proposition 31, an overview prepared by the League of Women Voters of California
- Proposition 31 on Voter's Edge
- Proposition 31 Cheatsheet from KCET
- Proposition 31 on California Choices (sponsored by Next 10, IGS at UC Berkeley, the UC San Diego Political Science Department, the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford, and the Center for CA Studies at Sac State)
- Proposition 31 at the California Voter Foundation
- "Yes on 31" website
- "Yes on 31" on Twitter
- "Yes on 31" on Facebook
- California Forward Action Fund
- Campaign finance reports of "Yes on 31/Taxpayers for Government Accountability" (1344386)
- Campaign finance reports of "Californians for Government Accountability/California Forward Action Fund (1310030)
- "No on 31" website
- "No on 31" on Twitter
- Campaign finance reports of "Californians for Transparent and Accountable Government (1348039)
- "No on 31" on Facebook
- Is Proposition 31 really a U.N. conspiracy?
- California’s Prop. 31: The Revolution Will Not Be Publicized
- Making Sense of The Very, Very Complicated Proposition 31
- NBC San Diego, "California Forward Full Steam Ahead", May 10, 2012
- San Francisco Gate, "Calif. budget measure makes November ballot", June 26, 2012
- Fox and Hounds Daily, "Hertzberg on the California Forward Initiative", February 23, 2012
- KQED, "Reformers Team Up for November Ballot", January 26, 2012
- Walnut Creek Patch, "California Republicans Oppose Proposed Tax Measures", August 12, 2012
- San Francisco Chronicle, "For Prop. 31: State can't afford status quo", August 7, 2012
- Walnut Patch, "Democratic Party Picks State Ballot Measures to Support", July 30, 2012
- Modesto Bee, "Dan Walters: California needs more than Proposition 31 to fix what ails it", July 30, 2012
- San Francisco Chronicle, "Sarah Swanbeck: Against Prop 31: Reform is a Trojan Horse", August 8, 2012
- Contra Costa Times, "Summary of our endorsements on state propositions", September 22, 2012
- Daily Democrat, "Democrat endorsements: Propositions", October 14, 2012
- Fresno Bee, "EDITORIAL: Prop. 31 contains reforms that state urgently needs", October 1, 2012
- Lompoc Record, "The shift to stronger fiscal policy", October 7, 2012
- Long Beach Press Telegram, "Editorial: Yes on Prop. 31 -- Measure will help lawmakers make better budget decisions", September 26, 2012
- Los Angeles Daily News, "Editorial: Yes on Prop. 31 -- Measure will help lawmakers make better budget decisions", September 26, 2012
- Marin Independent Journal, "Editorial: IJ recommendations on state Propositions 30-33", October 11, 2012
- Modesto Bee, "Proposition 31 a must to make government transparent", September 15, 2012
- Redding Record Searchlight, "A hard-headed set of reforms to get the state in shape", September 23, 2012
- San Bernardino Sun, "Prop. 31 a step toward better governance", September 27, 2012
- San Diego Union-Tribune, "Prop. 31: A step toward fixing California", September 26, 2012
- San Francisco Chronicle, "Editorial: Chronicle recommends", October 5, 2012
- Mercury News, "Mercury News editorial: Proposition 31 will help state government work better", September 21, 2012
- Bay Area Reporter, "Editorial: State ballot measures", September 20, 2012
- Los Angeles Times, "No on Proposition 31", October 18, 2012
- North County Times, "No on 31", September 22, 2012
- Orange County Register, "Editorial: Prop. 31 (state budget): No", October 9, 2012
- Press-Enterprise, "No on 31", October 9, 2012
- "Sacramento Bee", "Endorsements: No on the well-intentioned Proposition 31", September 10, 2012
- San Francisco Bay Guardian, "Endorsements 2012: State ballot measures", October 3, 2012
- Santa Cruz Sentinel, "Editorial: Prop. 31 needs more vetting", October 9, 2012
- Ventura County Star, "No on Prop. 31, it's too much to swallow at once", September 19, 2012
- Victorville Daily Press, "Proposition 31 confusing by design: Vote No", October 30, 2012
- Public Policy Institute of California, "Californians and Their Government", September 2012
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