The growing November ballot
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to sign a bill today to add a veterans' bond to the growing Nov. 4 ballot. The measure to extend the Cal-Vet program (to help veterans buy homes and farms) would be the 12th statewide proposition to come before voters, with more sure to follow. It's encapsulated in Senate Bill 1572 by Sen. Mark Wyland (R-Carlsbad).
The June 26 deadline for placing legislative and initiative measures on the ballot has come and gone, but then, so has the July 1 deadline for adopting a 2008-2009 state budget, and that doesn't seem to have phased anyone in Sacramento. The Legislature can, and often does, waive the statutory deadline for its own measures. Lawmakers will do that for this one, and in the coming weeks will also consider sending voters measures to squeeze up-front money from the lottery, expand or at least reform prisons, update (or just mess with; you pick) the state's water system, and perhaps more.
But they'd better hurry. Ballot materials go to the printer in August.
Secretary of State Debra Bowen has already numbered Propositions 1 through 11, so the Cal-Vet bond will be Proposition 12? Not necessarily. Under Elections Code Sec. 13115, legislative bond measures go first. A high-speed passenger train bond already is Proposition 1, and there's already a Proposition 2, so the Cal-Vet bond will be Proposition 1a? *Sigh.* Not necessarily. The Legislature and governor can rewrite the Elections Code whenever it suits them to assign a particular number.
In theory, extending the Cal-Vet program would cost taxpayers little. Veterans' payments historically have covered the cost of servicing the state bonds, but if they don't, lenders are repaid from the state's general fund; that's why this measure must go to the ballot. The Cal-Vet program began in 1921 and currently is available only to veterans who served before 1977. If voters pass Proposition Whatever, the program would be open for the first time to Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq conflict veterans.
By the way, putting the measure on the ballot isn't free. It will cost at least $64,000 and as much as $94,000 -- per page! -- for the secretary of state to print and mail the measure and accompanying materials as part of the ballot pamphlet.
Los Angeles voters may have an additional bundle of measures on the ballot, as reported Saturday by Times staff writer David Zahniser. The Los Angeles City Council on Friday committed to a parcel tax of $3 per month to fund anti-gang programs. You can find a pdf of the language here. It's Council File number 08-1800-S3, if you're keeping score at home.
In coming weeks the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will move on a 1/2 cent sales tax to fund transportation. If the MTA board approves, five of its members -- the county Board of Supervisors -- will decide whether to put it on the ballot.
The Community College District Board of Trustees is mulling a $3.5 billion bond measure for construction and education (to be repaid with a property tax increase). See the district's bond construction site here.
The Los Angeles Unified School District board is considering a $3.2 billion property tax increase for construction (to be repaid with a property tax increase). See a pdf here of the resolution from the oversight committee that is managing expenditure of four previous school construction bonds.