ALAMEDA -- Fighting discouraging poll numbers for the May 19 Special Election initiatives (Props. 1A through 1F), Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown appeared Tuesday morning in front of an East Bay fire station saying that voters must pass the propositions or risk throwing the state into further economic chaos.
The powerful political odd couple, who wouldn't normally be able to agree on the time of day, were in lockstep in their promotion of the propositions, themselves a product of the strained and extended budget negotiations that finally gave the state a spending plan and which theoretically closed a yawning $28 billion deficit.
Working under the banner of the organization, Budget Reform Now - Yes on Propositions 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E, 1F, Schwarzenegger and Brown admitted that the package of initiatives are not a panacea that will solve the state's economic woes.
"Failure, in this case, is not an option," Schwarzenegger said standing on the wind-blown concrete apron of Alameda's Fire Station 1 on Park Street.
The presidents of the California State Sheriff's and Police Chiefs associations and Alameda City Fire Department Division Chief Mike Fisher were also present.
"Should these initiatives not pass there would be immediate cuts in the billions of dollars to programs that support our children," Brown said.
Schwarzenegger said that should the package fail at the ballot box, the state would be looking at an immediate $14 billion deficit that would force not only draconian cuts to children's services but public safety, education and healthcare programs as well.
who is exploring a possible gubernatorial bid in 2010 (he served two
pre-term-limit era stints as governor from 1975 to 1983) agreed.
"[These propositions] are not perfect, but our problems will grow bigger if they are not passed by the voters," Brown said. "To me, this is a no-brainer. [This is] an incremental response to an immediate crisis."
But political bi-partisan star-power aside, the Schwarzenegger-Brown duo are running up against the powerful Service Employees International Union and the California Federation of Teachers, which are both opposing Prop. 1A. A recent Public Policy Institute of California
poll showed that with the exception of Prop. 1F (which would stop state
lawmakers from receiving pay raises during years when the state is
running a deficit) the remainder of initiatives have received only
lukewarm support from the state's likely voters.
Budget Reform Now officials, however, dispute the findings of the March 25 PPIC survey, calling into question the statistical models the non-partisan San Francisco-based institution used.
"One thing the PPIC (survey) makes clear is that voters are not happy with the economy, their elected leaders or the state budget. This presents us with an opportunity to communicate a strong message to voters centered around the theme that Propositions 1A through 1F are about bringing both short and long term reform and stability to all three of these areas," said Budget Reform Now's Rick Claussen in a March 25 memo distributed to the news media Tuesday.
Jeff Mitchell is a Bay Area based journalist and longtime observer of Golden State politics.