Prop 1A: Too Complicated?

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, April 27, 2009

A lot of ballot measures read like a foreign language.  But most of us will need more than a dictionary to figure this one out: 
“Subdivision D1, the general fund revenues for the current fiscal year shall be forecast by extrapolating from the trend line derived by a linear regression of general fund revenues  as a function of fiscal year for the period preceding ten fiscal years.”  (may fade out sooner?) 
That’s Michael Cohen.  He’s with the state’s non-partisan legislative analyst’s office.  Think your job is tough?  He’s the one who had to analyze prop. 1A for the rest of us in the voter guide. 

“Easily one of the most challenging measures that I’ve worked on.” 
Here’s Prop. 1A in a nutshell:  It forces the state to beef up its savings account during good times, so that when things so south, there’s enough cash to cushion the blow.  But saving more means spending less in any given year on programs and services.  It’s a tug of war.  Cohen says 1A could affect the way government runs: 
“In recent years, we’ve had sharp ups and sharp drops and this should allow you to establish a more stable year to year spending pattern and that – over time – should help the state’s programs be more effective.” 
The measure would also extend the recent sales, income and car tax hikes by one to two years.   Jack Pitney is a Professor of Government at Claremont-McKenna College.  He says voters tend to vote no when things get too complex: 
It’s easier to create doubt than create confidence, and the more complicated a measure is, the easier it is to create doubt.”

Complicated or not, voter approval is required for a constitutional amendment to take effect.