Prop 30

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Who Were the Big Winners and Losers in Frenzied Spending on State Initiatives?

By Lance Williams, California Watch

Molly Munger donated $44.1 million to pass Proposition 38, a measure to raise taxes for public education. The initiative failed.

Multimillionaire activists, big labor unions and major corporations combined to pump more than $363 million into political fights over 11 propositions on Tuesday’s state ballot, a California Watch analysis shows.

Prop. 38 backer Molly Munger. (neontommy/flickr)

Prop. 38 backer Molly Munger. (neontommy/flickr)

That’s about $20 in political spending for each of California’s 18.2 million registered voters.By law, state ballot initiatives are exempt from the tough donation limits that otherwise apply in California elections.

In contests over proposed tax increases, car insurance rates, criminal justice reforms and political spending by labor unions, donors with deep pockets took full advantage.

Forty-seven donors – individuals, companies and political committees – donated more than $1 million apiece on initiative campaigns, a review of campaign finance data provided by MapLight.org shows.

Seven donors each gave $11 million or more.

The unprecedented spending spree was a sign of just how far the 101-year-old California initiative process has strayed from its origins. In the beginning, initiatives were a Progressive-era reform devised to allow ordinary citizens to sidestep a legislative process controlled by monied special interests. Continue reading

What’s Known About the Groups Behind the $11 Million ‘Money Laundering’

(401(K) 2012: Flickr)

(401(K) 2012: Flickr)

Here’s what we can glean about the groups that funneled $11 million into California to try to defeat Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax measure — Prop. 30 —  and to pass Prop. 32 — which would limit unions’ ability to raise political funds:

The state Fair Political Practices Commission announced earlier today that Americans for Responsible Leadership, the Arizona group that last month made the $11 million contribution to a California PAC, had identified the “true source” of the donation: a Virginia-based group called Americans for Job Security. That organization in turn funneled the money back to Americans for Responsible Leadership through yet another group, the Center to Protect Patient Rights. We cannot find a website for it. The Center’s address is listed as a P.O. box in Phoenix.

Completely lost? Let’s review the steps — steps which the FPPC characterizes as “campaign money laundering” under California law:

  1. Americans for Job Security (Virginia) sent money to the Center to Protect Patient Rights (P.O. box in Phoenix)
  2. The Center to Protect Patient Rights sent it to Americans for Responsible Leadership (Arizona)
  3. Americans for Responsible Leadership in turn sent $11 million to the Small Business Action Committee PAC, here in California. One might assume the PAC lost no time in dumping the money into TV ads to defeat Prop. 30 and to pass Prop. 32. The Sacramento Bee’s Capitol Alert lays out the money trail, complete with dates.
(T)he money trail in a case like this $11 million contribution to the California initiative campaigns leads not to individuals, but to a few organizations that are impervious to public scrutiny.

Now we have the names of the committees involved. How about the people or companies who were the source of the money in the first place? We’re in the dark about that, thanks to federal law and court rulings that allow a wide spectrum of political donors to keep their identities secret. Continue reading

Protest at Charles Munger’s House Over Anti-Prop 30 Donations

Demonstrators chanted outside the home of multi-millionaire Charles Munger, Jr. Thursday afternoon in one of Palo Alto’s most exclusive neighborhoods, protesting Munger’s $35 million in donations to fight Governor Brown’s tax measure, Proposition 30. Munger is the leading funder of the opposition to the initiative, which would raise taxes temporarily in order to avoid big trigger cuts in this year’s state budget.

San Leandro resident Patrick Jerome Forte came with the California Alliance for Retired Americans and said, “That’s not how the elections are done in California. You can’t buy our vote. You can not influence us to vote the way you want us to. Take your money back!”

Munger chairs the Santa Clara County Republican Party of Silicon Valley. He was not home during the protest.

A recent Field poll showed support for Prop 30 had slipped below 50 percent, which it needs to exceed in order for it to pass. But 14 percent of voters still remain undecided, and Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo told KQED that a majority of undecideds approve of the governor’s job performance and are concerned about potential budget cuts if the measure fails. “All these things indicate to me that the governor’s measure is in fairly decent shape,” DiCamillo said.

Charles Munger’s sister, Molly Munger, has contributed $44 million to a rival tax measure, Proposition 38. That initiative is trailing badly in polls.

Poll Shows Support For Brown Tax Measure Falls Below 50%; Undecideds Now the Key

A new Field Poll out today shows that Governor Brown’s tax increase measure, Proposition 30, has dropped below the 50 percent it needs to pass. The poll shows 48 percent of voters in support and 38 percent opposed, with 14 percent undecided.

Teachers at Angeles Mesa Elementary School in Los Angeles review voter information on Proposition 38 during a recent teacher union meeting. (Ana Tintocalis: KQED)

Teachers at Angeles Mesa Elementary School in Los Angeles review voter information on Proposition 38 during a teacher union meeting. (Ana Tintocalis/KQED)

Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo says Proposition 38, a rival tax measure put on the ballot by education advocate Molly Munger, has drawn off some of Prop 30’s support. “Prop 38 is pulling some voters away from 30,” he told Capital Public Radio’s Ben Adler. “We’re measuring it at 9 percent.” Despite that switch, support for Prop 38 was measured at just 34 percent, down 12 percent from July.

DiCamillo said there is still hope for Brown’s measure, as undecided voters could be more likely to vote yes in the end. DiCamillo cited the survey’s finding that a majority of undecideds approve of the governor’s job performance and are concerned about potential budget cuts if the measure fails.

“So all these things indicate to me that the governor’s measure is in fairly decent shape,” DiCamillo said.

More on Prop 30 vs Prop 38….

The 4 Propositions You’re Most Interested In…

If you want to sport this sticker, you'll have to decipher the state ballot and then vote. (EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images)

If you want to sport this sticker, you'll have to decipher the state ballot and then vote. (EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images)

by Lisa Aliferis and Jon Brooks

It’s getting down to the wire — just seven days to make up your mind on a plethora of issues and races … and then ya gotta vote.

Lucky you: We’re here to help.

Our reports about Props. 30 and 38 (education and taxes); the nine-item Prop. 31 (governance) and Prop. 37 (labeling GMO foods) are attracting a lot of attention online. So either we’ve really figured out this SEO thing, or you’re genuinely interested in those initiatives in particular.

Thus, we’re compiling the best-of-the-best of our coverage on these props so that you don’t have to stand in the voting booth pondering whether numerological concerns aren’t going to be the one determining factor after all in how you vote on these things, complex as they are, yet sold, packaged and soundbited by opponents and proponents alike direct to your Id.

So read up!

-Proposition 30 and Proposition 38 both promise to fund schools, but in different ways.

-Proposition 31 will do nine (yes, 9) different things, attempting to overhaul state governance. God knows California governance needs overhaul, but is Prop. 31 the right approach?

-Proposition 37 requires the labeling of genetically modified ingredients in foods.

If you need information on still more props, here’s a bonus:

-Proposition 32 (campaign spending)

 

You can always consult our Proposition Guide for concise information about all 11 props. on the California ballot.

Video: Props 30 and 38 Both Promise to Help Schools — in Different Ways

There’s a lot riding on the November 6 election for California’s once prized public education system. With $6 billion in trigger cuts looming due to the state budget deficit, two competing tax measures on the ballot propose to temporarily help fill the gap. Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 would raise the state sales tax a quarter cent and income tax on those earning more than $250,000 annually. Competing Proposition 38, sponsored by millionaire attorney Molly Munger, would increase income tax on a sliding scale for those earning at least $7,316 a year.

On Friday, KQED’s This Week in Northern California examined the competing propositions.

Voters Supportive of Local Measures for Schools; More Skeptical of Statewide Solutions

Voters in Redwood City approved a local tax for district schools earlier this year. (Ana Tintocalis: KQED)

Voters in Redwood City approved a local tax for district schools earlier this year. (Ana Tintocalis: KQED)

Redwood City is a suburb just south of San Francisco. In recent years, the city has restored its historic downtown area and cleaned up its neighborhoods. But one thing remains the same: the Redwood City school district still gets the lowest amount of state education funding compared to neighboring communities — a result of the state’s complex school funding formula. That rubs 78-year-old Redwood City education advocate Margaret Marshall the wrong way. “It’s not fair and it’s wrong,” she says.

Marshall served on the district’s school board back in the 1980s. But when the state cut millions from education funding over the last two years, she took action. Marshall and an army of volunteers spent hours drafting a local parcel tax for Redwood City schools this past spring. Parcel taxes have become extremely popular among public school districts because the money raised goes directly into local campuses and teachers.

“If [voters] see the money being spent on their block, on their street, in their child’s school, they’re at least willing to consider that tax increase.”
But passing this kind of measure is tough. It requires a “supermajority” vote — two-thirds voter approval.

Redwood City tried three times before to pass a parcel tax, but this time Marshall says voters were finally ready to listen. “I had more coffee and cups of tea in the little coffeehouses locally,” she tells me. “But when you take the time to explain it to someone, one-on-one, you feel better about it. I think lots of times people distrust because they don’t understand what is happening.” Continue reading

Archive: KQED Public Radio’s ‘Forum’ Examines 10 State Propositions

Michael Krasny in studio

Through the studio glass: Michael Krasny hosts KQED's daily call-in show "Forum."

Here at KQED, we take elections pretty seriously. It’s a time when our mission of educating the public comes to a head — the messages coming from the campaigns are unrelenting and taken as a whole can present a confusing picture. So helping you cast an informed vote is our aim.

That was the philosophy behind our state proposition guide. Some people, however, prefer listening to reading. For those folks we present a complete archive of Forum’s 2012 state proposition shows. Some are an hour long, some are half an hour, but all present views from both sides and include community input we received via calls, emails, Facebook and Twitter. So sit back, turn up your speakers, and take a listen…

 

Prop. 30: Gov. Brown’s Tax Increase for Education, Public Safety

Continue reading

Group That Gave Huge Donation Against Brown Tax Measure Led By Anti-Union Activist

by Will Evans, California Watch

The Arizona group that dumped $11 million into California’s ballot measure melee this week is led by a Republican activist who calls labor unions “the parasite that is killing our jobs.”

Robert Graham, a candidate for Arizona Republican Party chairman, heads Americans for Responsible Leadership, a little-known group that delivered $11 million to a committee fighting a tax increase on November’s ballot and supporting a measure that would weaken the political clout of unions. The money will either go toward opposing Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax measure, or supporting Proposition 32, which would ban the use of payroll-deducted dues for political purposes.

Americans for Responsible Leadership was formed last year by three Arizona businessmen, including Graham. The other directors are Eric Wnuck, who ran an unsuccessful campaign in the Republican primary in a 2010 congressional race, and Steve Nickolas, a bottled water entrepreneurContinue reading

Explaining the Difference Between Props 30 and 38, Dueling Tax Initiatives

Teachers at Angeles Mesa Elementary School in Los Angeles review voter information on Proposition 38 during a recent teacher union meeting. (Ana Tintocalis: KQED)

Teachers at Angeles Mesa Elementary School in Los Angeles review voter information on Proposition 38 during a recent teacher union meeting. (Ana Tintocalis: KQED)

Education advocates in California say public schools will either sink or swim based on the outcome of two competing tax initiatives on the November ballot — Proposition 30 and Proposition 38. While both aim to protect students from more devastating budget cuts, they go about it in very different ways.

To better understand what is at stake for California’s public schools, I started off by visiting the headquarters of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the largest district in the state.

LAUSD has had to cut about half a billion dollars from its budget every year for the past five years because of the state’s money problems. Class sizes have swollen to more than 40 students; the school year was cut by five instructional days, and teachers have lost their jobs.

The person behind every difficult financial decision is Megan Reilly, the district’s Chief Financial Officer.

“The biggest challenge for Governor Brown is convincing [voters] that state government can be trusted to spend their tax dollars wisely and effectively.”

Her office is perched on the 26th floor of a skyscraper in downtown Los Angeles. Stacks of papers and financial reports are piled on and around her desk. Although she has a sweeping view of the city, she can’t take her eyes off of a series of large monthly calendars on the wall.

November 6th, Election Day, is circled, underlined and highlighted.

“I don’t think you can not think about it,” Reilly says. “We’re just in limbo because everything is critical about what is going to happen at the November election.”

Reilly views the election as a watershed moment for schools, because if voters do not approve Prop. 30 or Prop. 38, L.A. Unified — along with most other districts in California — will be pushed further down the road toward insolvency. Continue reading