Prop. 31 loses badly

Nov. 7, 2012

By Wayne Lusvardi

Proposition 31 was wiped out by voters yesterday.  The Government Performance and Accountability Act got just 39 percent of the votes, with 61 percent against.

Part of the likely reason it lost big was that it was undoubtedly the most confusing voter initiative on the ballot.  Factions of both Democrats and Republicans opposed and endorsed it.

The California Republican Party endorsed it but the California Federation of Republican Women opposed it.  The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the California Teachers Association opposed it.

But the liberal leaning think tank California Forward, headed by former Democratic state Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg and funded by European billionaire Nicolas Berggruen, were its main supporters.

The official position of the Libertarian Party of California was opposed to Proposition 31.  Interestingly, the California Green Party lined up with Libertarians in opposing it.  However, the proposition has appealed to many libertarian-leaning organizations, such as the Lincoln Club of Orange County and the Reason Foundation.

Voters that may have been looking for who supported or opposed Prop. 31 as a guide to how to vote were often confused.  The typical guides of party label did not serve as reliable.  This indicates that political parties in California have a decreasing hold on voters, despite the emergence of a de facto Fusion Party in California.


The confusion by the Republican Party was perhaps typical of the party’s problems in California.

Moreover, few recognized that, if enacted, Prop. 31 would make it nearly impossible to make any substantial cuts to the state budget, including to public pension plans.  Neither would it limit the use of bonds or voter initiatives to fund local public projects.

Until later, many supporters did not look at the fine print that created a new unelected layer of local government — called Strategic Action Plan Committees — that would regionalize revenue sharing in California.

Prominent author Stanley Kurtz wrote an article in National Review, “California’s Awful Prop.31: Is This Your Future?”, and came out against California Proposition 31. He cited my articles here at

Then Republicans began to take notice.  The question then became: Could  the collective Republican mind be changed after the party had officially supported it at their annual convention? Given that Prop. 31 lost, apparently that happened.

In its September newsletter, the California Federation of Republican Women reconsidered its prior position on Proposition 31 and reversed its position to oppose it.  This was partly in response to our article “California Prop. 31 Will Regionalize State Revenue Sharing.”

Prop. 31 did have some good points that should be brought back in future reforms, such as two-year budgeting. But this time around, voters saw that the bad outweighed the good.




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