Will California Voters Answer the Special Election Call?

An unending run of grim economic news has seemingly put California voters in a foul mood before Tuesday’s special election.  Today’s special election arrives in the midst of a bad national economy and arrives three months after a 15 week squabble to close an earlier $42 billion shortfall.

Add in a complex set of ballot propositions and rising distrust of Sacramento politicians (approval ratings now stand at 14%), and the election is shaping up as a replay of 2005, when voters rejected every measure on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s special election ballot.

Californian’s have all been warned that if the Propositions fail the state’s economy will sink even further.  To highlight Seeing Redthat fact, last week Schwarzenegger released two dire budget plans: The most optimistic projects a $15.4 billion gap, which widens to $21.3 billion if voters reject today’s ballot measures. 

Hardly an inspiring message that urges citizens to the polls.

“[Voters] are having a hard time seeing how this set of ballot measures (is) going to be a part of the solution to California’s economic recovery or a solution to the budget difficulties of the state government,” said Mark Baldassare, president of the Public Policy Institute of California.

The measures would create a state spending cap, extend a series of tax increases, repay education funding, authorize borrowing from future lottery proceeds and transfer money from children’s and mental health programs to the state’s general fund. The only one of the six measures leading in opinion polls was Proposition 1F, which would prohibit pay raises to state elected officials during deficit years.

Californians are projected to reject the lead measure with 57% of voters opposing it, according to poll results released late Monday by the nonpartisan Survey USA.  With the exception of Prop 1F, pollsters are predicting that the other measures may follow suit.

“It fair to say that the governor’s and the Legislature’s approval ratings make it more difficult for people to feel that the budget measures are needed as a solution,” said PPIC director Mark Baldassare in the Fresno Bee. “Add to that the general complexity of them and the economic uncertainty in their own lives, and it’s a difficult time for voters to accept these measures as necessary.”

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