Massive California ballot initiative fail

Good news out of the Golden State. As expected, California voters rejected all but one of yesterday's referenda. The ballot initiatives, which would have raised some taxes, extended others, enabled substantial borrowing, and invited more bloat by committing money to various well funded fiefdoms, failed by even wider margins than the propositions in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's disastrous November 2005 Special Election. As Matt Welch noted yesterday, the results also make clear how rotten and out of touch most of the state's newspaper editorial boards are.

The one winner was a trick proposition that would deny pay cuts to politicians under certain very narrowly defined budget circumstances. I voted against that one both for a clean sweep of No's and because the proposition is insulting to the intelligence (though I guess having your intelligence insulted is part of the deal when you live in California). But other than that and the votes for state senator (where my candidate, surfing rabbi Nachum Shifren, got demolished by Democratic party favorite Curren Price) and the all-important Area 6 seat for the L.A. Community College board of trustees (where somebody named Pearlman defeated somebody named Nakahiro), I had a pretty successful voting experience.

Don't believe post-election spin that argues California voters rejected the slate out of pique at having to vote so often. The sore-thumb victory of the salary cap Prop 1F indicates voters were sufficiently attentive to the import of these initiatives that they said yes to one and no to all the others. They may have resented the initiatives on the basis of fatigue (I've had to vote twice since the November presidential), but they rejected the measures on the basis of their content. 

Full results of my own ballot:

1A "Rainy Day" Budget Stabilization Fund
Yes: 1,327,400 34.1% No: 2,555,519 65.9% (Tim's vote: No)

1B Education Funding. Payment Plan.
Yes: 1,452,535 37.4% No: 2,421,906 62.6% (Tim's vote: No)

1C Lottery Modernization Act
Yes: 1,368,222 35.4% No: 2,493,770 64.6% (Tim's vote: No)

1D Children's Services Funding
Yes: 1,324,252 34.2% No: 2,536,657 65.8% (Tim's vote: No)

1E Mental Health Funding
Yes: 1,292,437 33.6% No: 2,549,361 66.4% (Tim's vote: No)

1F Elected Officials Salaries
Yes: 2,859,122 73.9% No: 1,010,457 26.1% (Tim's vote: No)

Los Angeles City Attorney
* Carmen "Nuch Trutanich   131,777 55.74
Jack Weiss  104,622 44.26
(Tim's vote: Trutanich)

State Senator 26th District
* CURREN D PRICE JR DEM  32,693 70.44
NACHUM SHIFREN REP  9,804 21.12
CINDY V HENDERSON PF   3,913 8.43
(Tim's vote: Shifren)

LOS ANGELES COMM COLLEGE - BRD OF TRUSTEE AREA 6
* NANCY PEARLMAN   169,783 61.48
ROBERT NAKAHIRO   106,383 38.52
(Tim's vote: Nakahiro)

LOS ANGELES COMM COLLEGE - BRD OF TRUSTEE AREA 2
* TINA PARK   148,243 54.19
ANGELA J REDDOCK   125,311 45.81
(Tim's vote: Park)

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  • MNG||

    Wow, even the ones they wrapped in "teh Children" ("Children's Services Funding" and the magic word "Education Funding") got clobbered. That's a pretty big pimp slap...

  • not the real jb||

    I grew up in California, but I live 3,000 miles away now.

    What was the catch with 1F? Isn't restricting pay raises for ineffective leadership good, even if "ineffective" is narrowly defined?

  • ||

    California must go bankrupt. It is the only hope for the country. California has to go bankrupt and default on its bonds and its pensions and be left with no money. This would have three positive effects. First, it would make California engage in fiscal sanity, since they couldn't borrow anymore money. Second, it would make it harder for other states to borrow money. Third, it would stand as a warning to places like New York and Massachusetts that are not far behind California. In the same way a drug addict often has to hit rock bottom and go to jail to finally reform, California has to hit rock bottom to stop taxing and spending. It is the only hope. Sadly, McHopey will no doubt bail them out. Then rather than having California serve as the moral hazzard, we can have the entire country hit rock bottom.

  • Kyle Jordan||

    I'm surprised by how high the winning vote percentages are in these totals. Is there actually room for... hope for people?

  • Spartacus||

    I'm surprised by how high the winning vote percentages are in these totals. Is there actually room for... hope for people?

    No, because they will still demand all the spending, and then become enraged when services actually have to be cut.

  • ||

    "No, because they will still demand all the spending, and then become enraged when services actually have to be cut."

    But when the government can no longer borrow or tax for another dime, they will learn to get over that. It is one of the reasons why bankruptcy would be such a good thing.

  • ||

    No, because they will still demand all the spending, and then become enraged when services actually have to be cut.



    Strictly speaking, I think most of them will demand only a small percentage of the spending, the spending that they actually use. However, in aggregate it will add up to all the spending, and it would be near impossible to cut enough spending without enraging nearly all of them.

    Spend on my favorite stuff, tax everyone but me to pay for it.

  • ||

    "Strictly speaking, I think most of them will demand only a small percentage of the spending, the spending that they actually use. However, in aggregate it will add up to all the spending, and it would be near impossible to cut enough spending without enraging nearly all of them."


    People say that. I think the big government propeganda machine has convinced everyone that the spending does all this good. If the spending ever stopped, people would wake up and realize not much had changed. Then they would know how badly they have been ripped off over the last 40 years. That is why the big spenders are so paniced at the thought of running out of money.

  • ||

    I hear there's talk of releasing prisoners to save money.

    Though, God only knows they'll probably release rapists and murderers so they can make sure that society's protected from those dangerous drug offenders.

  • ||

    Mr. Cavenaugh,

    Would I be wrong id I interpret this as a voter message to the state legislature to "do your goddam job"?

  • Grob||

    "If the spending ever stopped, people would wake up and realize not much had changed."

    Unfortunately the politicians control this process and often purposely cut the more useful programs to show the people how much we need them.

    In my city they are cutting police, fire and education while leaving the trash can beautifying and cultural center projects untouched. And of course the culpable press does not report such.

  • ||

    "In my city they are cutting police, fire and education while leaving the trash can beautifying and cultural center projects untouched. And of course the culpable press does not report such."


    Yeah that is a common trick. Back in the 80s congress used to shut down the national mall and the national parks when they got into with Reagan over spending. Out of all the wasteful spending going on the only thing they can cut is national parks. It is just hostage taking.

  • ||

    California must go bankrupt. It is the only hope for the country.

    Ain't gonna happen. No way does a Dem Washington let one of its electoral strongholds go off the cliff.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Unfortunately the politicians control this process and often purposely cut the more useful programs to show the people how much we need them."

    A better way to put it would be that they purposely cut (or threaten to cut) the services that are most likely to be used by the people who are actually paying the bulk of the taxes - as opposed to all the transfer payment programs of one sort or another.

  • ||

    I think the big government propeganda machine has convinced everyone that the spending does all this good. If the spending ever stopped, people would wake up and realize not much had changed.



    No, I really do think that most people only think that a small portion of spending is actually useful. Granted, people don't actually agree on what that portion is, except for a few obvious things that are the first things cut in order to extort money out of the voters get them to see the value of spending.

    But in general a lot of people are willing to take a lot of useless spending that they don't care about in order to get some money for what they do. Consider the organic and specialty crop growers and the urban representatives who went along with the farm bill because it threw them crumbs, even though the vast majority went to the Big Four crops. Consider railfans who like the Obama Administration spending money on rail, even though the Administration is also massively increasing road spending, and repeating taking General Fund money and putting it towards roads.

    People who like rail whine about roads being subsidized. But when last year and this year a Democratic Congress becomes the first to subsidize roads out of general funds instead of the gas tax, do they complain? No, because they're getting a few billion for trains, even if roads are getting much more.

  • ||

    No way does a Dem Washington let one of its electoral strongholds go off the cliff.

    I believe they will bail out California - but it will make it just about impossible for them "afford" to bail out ny and mass and ohio and michigan and guam and yada, yada, yada.

    Really, sooner or later, when the interest on the Treasury bonds gets high enough, the smart folks in DC will realize "Fuck we can't afford all this!"

  • ||

    "I believe they will bail out California - but it will make it just about impossible for them "afford" to bail out ny and mass and ohio and michigan and guam and yada, yada, yada."


    That is true. Also, bailing out California is like paying off a compulsive gambler's credit cards on the promise he won't run them up again. Regardless of what McHopey does, California is either going to change its poltical culture or go bankrupt with the latter being the overwelming favorite.

  • AlanS||

    Part of the problem is, in 2010 the people will return to office the same people who have been causing the problem (except the pols who are term-limited out of office). And the democrats who win, will be heavily funded by the public employee unions who have salaries, health benefits, and pensions that are way out of line with the private sector.

  • ||

    The Tea Party people should start thinking about opposing a California bailout; they could do real damage to Obama by painting him as fiscally reckless, and thus undermine all his other big government plans.

    I still don't understand why California lost the ability to manage its own affairs.

  • johnl||

    The Governator made a huge mistake in 2005 with the November election. He should have found a way to hold the election at some time with lower voter turnout.

  • ||

    Hmm the Yes votes seem to average around 1.35 million straight down the ticket. Seems like you have to get at least that many NO votes to offset those that pay no tax and have nothing but their hand out. You know the ones always looking for a raise via their vote or to make sure they keep getting the gravy flow their way.

  • MNG||

    I do think that most measures restricting legislator pay are not good policy, for the same reasons I thought laws restricting CEO pay are bad policy. You want to attract competent people, not people who are dying to be bought off and such.

    If you are worried about government spending a much better provision would be one that requires supermajorities before allowing spending increases or tax increases, balanced budgets, etc.

  • MNG||

    "offset those that pay no tax and have nothing but their hand out. You know the ones always looking for a raise via their vote or to make sure they keep getting the gravy flow their way."

    Yeah, as opposed to hard workin' super-productive folks like yourself I'm sure!

  • ||

    "I do think that most measures restricting legislator pay are not good policy, for the same reasons I thought laws restricting CEO pay are bad policy. You want to attract competent people, not people who are dying to be bought off and such."

    That would seem to be true. But experience says otherwise. The US Congress raises its pay with impunity. But the quality of Congress goes down every year. I can't think of a time in US history where the quality of both the majority and the opposition is so uniformly low as it is now.

  • ||

    I still don't understand why California lost the ability to manage its own affairs.

    It has to do with ballot box budgeting. There are so many taxes and fees and spending that is required by propositions and constitutional amendments (which all require 50%+1 votes to pass) that the hands of the legislature are completely tied. The proposition and amendment process are completely jacked up. CA is Exhibit A on the shortcomings of direct democracy for a large population.

  • Ignu||

    They may say no to a tax hike, but they'll take a great big ol' government bailout, I'm sure.

  • MNG||

    "The US Congress raises its pay with impunity. But the quality of Congress goes down every year."

    I'm honestly not sure its any worse or better. If we were writing this 200 years ago everybody would be like "can you believe those fuckers in Congress still support the Bank of the United States, wtf?"

    And everybody would be like "holy shit this magic device that allows us to communicate our outrage from our living rooms is amazing...Now to check out sexygalsankles.com!"

  • MNG||

    Supporting tax cuts and spending cuts, principled.
    Supporting tax raises and spending raises, or when running a debt, spending cuts, understandable.
    Supporting tax cuts but not spending cuts, irresponsible.

    And I'm betting CA voters fall into the latter.

  • ||

    "I'm honestly not sure its any worse or better. If we were writing this 200 years ago everybody would be like "can you believe those fuckers in Congress still support the Bank of the United States, wtf?"

    At least in my life time, who would you take, Tip O'Neil, Sam Nun, Danial Moynahan, Howard Baker, Jack Kemp, and Barry Goldwater or Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Lindsey Gram, Arlan Spector and Susan Collins?

    I am taking the former and it is not even close. I disagreed with nearly everything Tip O'Neil thought about government, but I still respected him and thought he was at least trying to do the right thing. I can't say that about the current crowd. Our political culture has hit absolute rock bottom.

  • skr||

    I almost went out to dance in the streets when I saw the vote tallies. I think this is the first time that my ballot positions actually won. And, with the exception of the CC Board, it was a clean sweep. Sweet.

  • Mike M.||

    I believe they will bail out California.

    "They" of course being China and Japan. The question is how much longer our suckers, I mean creditors, will keep enabling our national addiction.

  • Brad Warbiany||

    Tim (and other LA folks),

    What is so important about the City Attorney post. Down here behind the Orange Curtain, I was bombarded with ads for Trutanich and Weiss, despite the fact that I don't even live (or vote) in LA County.

    I saw more ads for those two than I did for Obama vs. McCain (because that race was a foregone conclusion here in CA anyway).

    WHY in the world is so much money being spent on electing the City Attorney? Does he have some ungodly power to reward supporters and punish opponents throughout LA?

  • ||

    John, is unfortunatly, right on the money. CA's situation is not unlike that of the Big 3.
    CA unions and the elected officials who run the state, with a little help from the naive CA voters, have created massive legacy costs end entitlements which are unstainable. The average citizen in CA is unaware of how many $ leave their pocket to fund the pay and benefits of these workers, levels of pay and benefits that they themselves don't have. Case in point - my fiancee, a principal in the LAUSD retires at full pay and medical. How many of you have any retirement benefits at all? Next time your up at night worrying about your retirement, please rest at peace knowing what could be your retirement savings are creating a happy and stress free retirement for our of our coddled pulic servants who also enjoy job security. The current budget deficit is small compared to the looming liabilites due to current and future CA employees. Unless these contracts are broken in bankruptcy, they will drag the state down just as they have the automotive industry.

  • Mike Laursen||

    California must go bankrupt.

    Nah, we're too big to fail! And we voted for Obama. You'll get the bill soon.

  • ||

    Next time your up at night worrying about your retirement, please rest at peace knowing what could be your retirement savings are creating a happy and stress free retirement for our of our coddled pulic servants who also enjoy job security.

    As with union members, public sector employees not only get full, taxpayer-supported retirements, they typically get them early.

    In a few years, I will be working and paying taxes so others my age can enjoy Cadillac retirements. Nothing pisses me off more.

  • ||

    Until the legislature (or the initiative) has to specify the metrics we'll use to track success at the time something is voted in, we'll get nothing but rubbish from any political action, in CA or elsewhere. If you don't measure it, you can't manage it.

  • ||

    So if CA goes bankrupt, do ALL the services stop? If the end result is that all non-essential services stop and people live with out them (which of course is possible) then I say let the behemoth die as proof that non-essential services should not be in government's hands to begin with. It will especially sweet if private citizens and companies pick up the slack.

    Reminds me of when the Soviet Union collapsed.

  • ||

    This is exactly what those who attended the Tea Parties saw coming. We are tired of paying for programs we have no control over. And you wonder why people from TX hear rumblings of secession. Now the federal government is going to want to take money from states who have been fiscally (NOT PHYSICALLY, GOVT SWARZENEGGER) responsible to BAIL THEIR BUTTS OUT. State programs are state programs. Pay for them or cut them it's up to you, but don't take my money and give it to another state because they aren't willing to pay for the crappy programs they continue to pass.

    I'm just wondering how badly the Federal Government has decided it will destroy the 10th amend. Talk about violating the very foundation of the union of STATES.

  • ||

    One big waste in State government is the many state employees who are paid to perform jobs that could be done more cheaply and efficiently by outsourcing to the private sector.
    What does the Department of Fish and Game, the Department of corrections or the Department of Toxic Waste need with, say, TV video specialists?
    Yet that's exactly what they have on their payrolls. People who have nothing to do with the mission of the department.
    You not only have to pay their salaries, but their healthcare, pensions, sick pay and holidays.
    Comepare that to an independent contractor who has to bid for the job and is finished once the jobis done.

  • ||

    Good luck to the Californians living in their crater.

    So easy to criticize when you're safely away in your magnate-funded ivory tower.

    Sorry to have stumbled on your blog. It champions the laissez faire that got the U.S. and the states into this mess in the first place.

  • ||

    "Sorry to have stumbled on your blog."

    Well, if you fuck right off again no one's gonna miss you, Bob.

  • Invisible Finger||

    First, it would make California engage in fiscal sanity,

    Or a killing spree.

  • California Uber Alles||

    I hear there's talk of releasing prisoners to save money.

    They'll send them to a nice communal shower before they release them. The state cares about their health and all.

  • Invisible Finger||

    In my city they are cutting police, fire and education

    Most cities have so much bloat in police and fire it's just plain sad. Bloated police departments are the reason we have victimless criminals in jails.

  • Mike Laursen||

    It champions the laissez faire that got the U.S. and the states into this mess in the first place.

    I suppose you're not coming back to answer this question, but how is California's budget process an example of laissez faire?

  • ||

    I grew up in California during the golden era when growth was unlimited and all the services, including the schools were the best in the nation.

    Watching what has happened is sad, but California voters need to quit whining about the politicians and look in the mirror. The proposition system in California has allowed the voters to get exactly what they want.

    They have passed proposition after propostion supporting the sale of bonds and directing how much spending is required, by law. Then they pass propositions severely limiting taxes.

    Ballot box budgeting doesn't work. People are not well informed enough about finance issues to be qualified to vote on them.

    Politicians are easy scapegoats, but in California the people have gotten exactly what they demanded. California's budgeting is not liassez faire, it's insanity.

  • ||

    And you wonder why people from TX hear rumblings of secession.

    Not to be rude, but fuck Texas. I'm so sick of hearing how great Texas is with their polluted air and water, forty-ninth rated shools, high violent crime rates, Cancer Alley, top ten dropout rate and a population with 40% having no health insurance. What a paradise. Quit complaining about California and clean up your own crappy state.

    Please secede, Texas.

  • B||

    Amazing how Reason, America's most vocal cheerleader for illegal immigration, doesn't mention the fucking glaringly obvious role illegal immigration has played in California's bankruptcy; actually it isn't a surprise. But hey, the estimated $5 billion dollars a year lawbreaking illegal immigrants cost the state, that doesn't mean anything does it? I think the whole phrase about elephants and rooms is applicable here.

  • B||

    "I do think that most measures restricting legislator pay are not good policy, for the same reasons I thought laws restricting CEO pay are bad policy. You want to attract competent people, not people who are dying to be bought off and such."

    Oh please. Talk about retarded bullshit. And they are public servants not private businessmen. I would call it apples and oranges but it is more like apples and carpet swatches. There is no fucking comparison.

  • B||

    "forty-ninth rated shools"

    Evidently you attended one of those "shools".

  • B||

    "What a paradise. Quit complaining about California and clean up your own crappy state."

    Uh, you are kind of missing the whole fucking point. California is the one that needs bailing out, not Texas.

  • B||

    And the whole 40% of the state without health insurance? I would love to see you cite the source on that one.

  • Mike Laursen||

    But hey, the estimated $5 billion dollars a year lawbreaking illegal immigrants cost the state, that doesn't mean anything does it? I think the whole phrase about elephants and rooms is applicable here.

    Let's say for the sake of argument that your numbers are correct. The projected deficit is $21 billion. Must be a bigger elephant in the room.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    Brad Warbiany,

    Sorry for the late response. The L.A. City Attorney prosecutes all misdemeanor offenses. So in that sense it's a pretty important spot. As for why it was so hotly contested, it might be because Jack Weiss was a big insider and there was (for L.A.) a pretty wide ideological split between the two candidates.

    Of course, many people think the City Attorney's office is all about billboards. When I think back to all the times I listened to those Silver Lake assholes at the L.A. Times bellyaching about Rocky Delgadillo for allowing billboards, the one good thing he did in his tenure, well, I want them to die even more than I usually want them to die.

  • Michael Martin||

    California needs a single, authoritarian leader in its Governor who will not concede or pander to the special interest groups. That person will also need to be a voice of Reason against the nonsense I've been listening to from our long-time leaders Boxer and Feinstein...the 2 germs infecting our system.

    I hold them especially responsible for the mess we're in...it happened on their watch and they been there a long time - far too long.

    We need a trader to head California - consider writing in Bill Gross of PIMCO fame...he's a lot better than the gubernatorial candidates we have on the slate so far such as Meg "I bought Skype, but forgot to include the asset in the deal" Whitman and that other disposable vinegar and water douche Villaraigosa.

    Win or lose, you get the government you deserve. I want less government, less taxes, and gigantic budget cuts.

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