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.
With six big ballot measures and some of the state's most prolific campaign fundraisers involved, you'd think it would take a lot of bandwith to monitor the political cash being amassed for the May 19 special election.
But you'd be wrong, as it's largely playing out along expected lines: one side has money... and the other side, it seems, doesn't.
If there is any silver lining in a new public poll for supporters of the six budget related measures on the May 19 ballot, maybe it's this: fewer than one in five likely voters are "very closely" following news about the special election.
In other words, maybe there's still time.
But that's about it on the good news front from the new Public Policy Institute of California survey. There appear to be some real concerns out there about Propositions 1A through 1E. (Proposition 1F, a no-brainer that bans lawmaker pay hikes in deficit years, is wildly -- and unsurprisingly -- popular.)
A long court hearing today over the ballot title and summary for the budget spending limit Proposition 1A resulted in a judge finding some of the language crafted by the Legislature "misleading," but refusing to more clearly link the measure to its impact on the budget tax increase.
The ruling will likely please some and frustrate others who argued that lawmakers were specifically trying to make Prop 1A as attractive as possible to voters in the May 19 special election.
Sacrammento Superior Judge Michael Kinney ruled that words such as "overspending"-- used to describe the kinds of budget actions Prop 1A would arguably end -- weren't objective enough for the ballot. Now, the ballot summary will say that 1A would limit future "spending," not "overspending."
But not all word changes demanded by the petitioners were agreed to by the judge. And in a blow to one of the lawsuit's petitioners, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Kinney didn't order Prop 1A to include language that explains how its passage will lead to a longer period of tax increases.
Just how much the original words would have influenced voters remains debatable; but for now, the issue seems to be left to the political campaigns now being waged... and not the verbage of the measures at the center of those campaigns.
The first public polls on any ballot measures before election day should usually be taken with a grain of salt; after all, the voters still don't know very much about the proposals, and the election is usually a long ways off.
That's not altogether true in the poll out today.
The greatest parlor game in state political circles these days is how the planets will align on the six budget measures to be put before the voters on May 19.
Are we in for a few minor skirmishes that, while heartfelt, are lacking the sufficient cash to knock any of the measures down? Or will enough cash appear on the 'no' side to present a real battle against Governor Schwarzenegger and his allies, who have bet the farm on several of these measures to help stem the flow of budget red ink?