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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

February, 2008


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The Primary Propositions
By Karen Nakamura

As readers know, the California Primary is Feb. 5. What many are just beginning to look at are the other items on the ballot. These include Indian gaming and a measure to change state legislative term limits.

Proposition 91: The important thing to remember is Vote No! Even proponents say to Vote No! That's because the issues have already been solved by Prop 1A in 2006. The initiative refers to Article X1X revenues from gas taxes and license fees and the loaning of these fees to the state's General Fund.


Proposition 92: This constitutional amendment separates minimum funding requirements of K-12 schools and community colleges. It also lowers college credit fees from $20 to $15 per unit while limiting the state's ability to raise fees in the future.

Currently, the state adjusts funding yearly to reflect the economy and total number of students. Prop 92 provides independent adjustments. The college system can then work on the needs of a rapidly growing young adult population and not be hindered by fluctuating K-12 levels. Opponents say Prop 92 locks spending increases into California's constitution with no independent oversight or a way to pay for it. Community college organizations and teachers/students are for 92. Chamber of Commerce folks and taxpayers groups are against.


Prop 93: Legislative term limits. Currently, California has a 14-year total term limit for lawmakers with three 2-year terms in the Assembly and two 4-year terms in the Senate. In this proposition, an individual could serve a total of 12 years in either body.

Those opposed to any term limits think this measure doesn't go far enough but the very real lack of experience among legislators is addressed to a degree. They also think Senate Pro Tem Don Peralta and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez are doing a good job.

Opponents say this is a blatant attempt to subvert term limits and that Prop 93 allows 42 Sacramento incumbents to start all over again, some able to serve up to 16 years. Speaker Fabian Nunez would be able to spend six more years in the Assembly and Senator Don Perata, could hold on for four more years. The California Republican Party opposes. California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, a Republican, has donated $1.5 million to defeat 93.

Proponents, including the Cal. Professional Firefighters Cal Labor Federation, Cal Teacher's Association and Sierra Club, argue realistically that a good part of California's legislative problems come from a lack of experienced people. They also point out that besides Poizner's donation, an East Coast group called U.S. Term Limits is funding the opposition. In 2007 a top official of that organization was indicted for conspiracy to commit campaign fraud. A North Dakota official accused their campaign of "deceit, fraud, Perjury and disregard for the Constitution and state law."


Prop 94-97: The Indian Gaming Initiative. Each constitution initiative allows one of four tribes, the Aqua Caliente, Sycuan, Morongo and Pechanga, to amendment existing gaming compacts to allow more slot machines and greater tax revenues.

The big attention getter this election, these propositions pit Gov. Schwarzenegger and four California Indian tribes against Las Vegas gambling interests. In the last election it was Schwarzenegger against the four tribes and gambling interests. Then they got together to talk.

With a looming budget deficit and cuts in community programs, the new agreements promise to bring millions a year to the state coffers. While Schwarzenegger negotiated the agreements, a majority of state legislators approved them, as did the US Department of the Interior. The legislative analyst office found the measures provide for verification of payments, annual independent audits and inspections from both the California Department of Justice and the California Gambling Control Commission. The question of fair union organizing is answered by the support of unions including the AFL and CIO.

The question then lies with who's actually looking out for the other tribes. The tribes will be required to provide tens of millions of dollars to the 78 tribes throughout California that have limited or no gaming. It's said dozens of Native American tribes support the propositions but this reporter was unable to confirm that information.



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