Prop 1A may be a hard sell for voters

May 4, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Proposition 1A is the centerpiece on the May 19 special election ballot. It would establish a state spending cap, create a so-called "rainy day fund" and extend temporary increases in the sales tax, personal income taxes and the vehicle license fee. Without it there will be an immediate $6 billion hole in the state budget.

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At the capitol Monday, members of two child care unions delivered petitions opposing Prop 1A because if the measure passes, it would limit government spending.

"We can reinstitute the tax rate on upper income tax brackets," child care union member Joe Wilson said.

Wilson says if the state is short of money, raise taxes on the wealthy.

Taxpayer groups are equally opposed to 1A because it extends taxes.

Non-profit, non-partisan organization CitizenVoice.org is putting mini-debates on the web to educate voters about the special election.

"Most people know very well there is a dearth of objective credible honest non-partisan information out there," founder Gary Dietrich said.

Dietrich runs Citizen Voice and is also a political analyst for KGO radio. He admits getting people up for the special election carries with it some frustrations.

"Well, you know what, a lot of people don't understand why we're even voting now," Dietrich said.

Dietrich figures maybe 15 to 20 percent of eligible voters will actually vote on May 19.

Proponents of the propositions have the governor and his bully pulpit on their side and the "Yes on 1A" campaign has outspent the "no" forces many times over.

But ABC7 political analyst Bruce Cain says this time, big money will not mean as much.

"Because you know that this is going to be a very small fraction of the California electorate that shows up for a special election,' Cain said.

Cain says Prop 1A is the result of a compromise hammered out by state legislators; neither side is happy or getting what they wanted.

"And what made sense in terms of legislative compromise after everybody in the legislature was very tired and finally had to come to some sort of agreement just isn't selling when it gets out to the voters," Cain said.

The latest polls show, little more than two weeks out from the election, Prop 1A is trailing in the votes it needs to pass.

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