One Deadline Comes & Goes

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Early summer is deadline season at the state Capitol. Legislation must move out of policy committees, the state budget is supposed to be enacted, and... in an election year... legislators and the governor must act to place proposals on the fall statewide ballot.

As of today, scratch that last deadline off the list.

Using the state's election laws... and counting backward from election day... today is the deadline for measures to be in place for the November 4 ballot.

11 proposals are already on the weighty November ballot, 10 of them placed there by voter circulated initiatives and one -- the previously delayed high-speed rail bond -- placed there by the Legislature.

Governor Schwarzenegger has been pushing for three more ballot measures: a budget reform plan, a proposal to modify the California Lottery and borrow money against its future revenues, and a bond measure to solve the state's water woes.

The budget reform issue and the lottery borrowing plan are both mired down in the seemingly going nowhere negotiations over a new state budget. And while some sort of lottery proposal has support in both parties, Democrats have pretty resoundingly shot down all budget reform ideas placed on the table.

The water bond's fate is especially murky, even in the midst of drought like conditions across the state, and no new signs of compromise have appeared.

Having said all this, missing today's deadline doesn't mean any -- or all -- of these measures have missed the November ballot. Lawmakers have stretched their time limits on ballot proposals several times in recent years. And the reality is that once they blow past today's official deadline, it becomes a question of how long do local elections officials need to design and print their ballots... and how much are lawmakers in Sacramento willing to spend to send out an extra ballot pamphlet to millions of voters?

"I love deadlines," British author Douglas Adams is quoted as once saying. "I especially like the whooshing sound they make as they go flying by."

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About John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new multimedia California Politics & Government Desk.  He has covered California politics for most of the past two decades -- serving previously as Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News and, most recently, as political editor for KXTV News10 (ABC) in Sacramento. He moderated the only gubernatorial debate of 2014, and was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.

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