Following a battle that some likened to a struggle between "machine" and "grassroots," Democratic state politics, Prop. 1A -- the core of a six-measure initiative package on the May 19 special election ballot -- failed to receive the official endorsement of the California Democratic Party at its annual convention this weekend in Sacramento.
Delegates failed to reach 60 percent or better in deciding whether to endorse Prop. 1A, the measure that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders say is the most important of the initiative package that was hammered out between leading Democrats and Republicans last February in order to close a gigantic $42 billion state budget and finally formulate a state spending plan for the year.
The delegates voted 58 percent in favor of endorsing the initiative, which would create a state "rainy day" fund, constrain spending and extend revenue-producing tax hikes. The measure did not make the needed 60 percent threshold to receive the party's endorsement.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) on Sunday urged the delegates to support the measure.
"Do not let the Democratic Party join forces with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association," Steinberg warned, noting the famed anti-tax group has officially opposed the initiative.
Prior to the start of the convention increasing numbers of left-leaning Democrats were expressing their opposition to the controversial ballot measures. The editorial board of the popular Calitics blog summed up their sentiments in this "editorial" against the package:
During the budget week from hell, we mildly cheered on the progress of the budget process. We were concerned about the short-term budget issues, but were also dismayed by the rapid rightward shift of the negotiations. Unfortunately, as an Editorial Board we simply cannot support the measures as they have been brought to the May 19 Special Elections Ballot. We share the concerns of the League of Women Voters that this package was poorly designed and poorly executed, resulting in a plan that will ultimately create more harm than good. And since none of these measures address the structural revenue gap, adding another layer to an already suffocating fiscal straight jacket makes no sense whatsoever.
East San Francisco Bay-based convention delegate Dan Wood agreed on his political blog, "A Progressive Alamedan:
The Democrats in the California Legislature, as a way to compromise the minority rule of the Republican Party, have teamed up with the Republicans to write Propositions 1A through 1F, and then heavily promote them as a way to solve our state's budget crisis. Only this "solution" is not going to actually solve anything in the long term. These propositions are a nightmare. They are a Republican's wet dream. They are the Democratic Party selling their souls to the Republicans. They are a wedge designed to split the party (1B sounds enticing, but it can only pass if 1A passes).
As a delegate, I've been bombarded with fliers and e-mails over the last couple of weeks from so-called progressive electeds. Mark Leno, Karen Bass, Jerry Brown, and others are trying their darndest to get us, the grassroots, to support their compromise. I understand their "hands tied" position, but the reality is, if these propositions pass, the legislature's hands will be welded down, almost permanently....
Here is the breakdown of Sunday's delegate vote:
--Prop. 1A: rejected
--Prop. 1B: endorsed
--Prop. 1C: endorsed
--Prop. 1D: rejected
--Prop. 1E: rejected
--Prop. 1F: endorsed
Follow Jeff Mitchell's Bay Area political reporting at BAPolitix.org