Radio Ads: Budget Campaign's First Salvo

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The first campaign ads have been released by backers of the six budget-related ballot measures, sending a simple and expected message to voters: vote yes or things will get worse.

The campaign headed up by Governor Schwarzenegger and his allies are behind one of the radio ads, while the California Teachers Association has released two more radio ads.

In the ad from the governor's Budget Reform Now campaign, voters are told that passage of the six measures will "bring sanity and stability to our budget process and take away the politician's blank check."

You can hear it below.

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The ad goes on to say that Propositions 1A-1F will protect against additional tax increases and spending cuts.

While the ad doesn't specifically say so, a campaign spokesperson confirms the ad is focused on the assertion that the five budget-related measures are part of the February budget agreement... which solved a $40 billion shortfall while providing billions more in tax increases for the coming years.

Of course, as the Legislative Analyst's Office has recently pointed out, the enactment of the measures won't erase new red ink caused by the worsening California economy, which the LAO now estimates at an additional $8 billion since the budget was signed into law.

Meantime, the radio ads from the CTA take a different tack. In fact, even though the teachers union has formally endorsed all six measures, these ads only focus on Proposition 1A and Proposition 1B.

And there's probably a simple reason for that. Prop 1B's passage would guarantee an additional $9 billion for public schools over the next few years. And, in a late night budget deal that seemed custom made for smart politics, Prop 1B only takes effect if the Prop 1A spending cap/reserve fund also passes. Prop 1A has been panned by a number of others in organized labor, while endorsed by CTA.

Both radio ads from the CTA's Yes on 1A & 1B campaign focus on the $9 billion for schools, arguing that the measure will allow the "paying back" of "gigantic cuts" from education in recent years. Hear it below.

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To be fair, both CTA ads also mention Prop 1A and argue it will "stabilize" the state budget process. But they focus heavily on Prop 1B, hoping voters will once again rank education as the top public policy priority.

Radio ads are among the cheapest to produce and to air in a campaign; TV costs big bucks, and none of the campaigns so far have amassed enough cash to finance a big TV blitz. Such blitzes in California can cost as much as $2 million a week.

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About John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new 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. In 2014, he was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.

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