Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
July 25, 2015

  • Two proposed ballot measures use same strategy
  • They are aimed at voter approval for pensions, Delta tunnels
  • Opponents would be forced to argue public shouldn’t have a vote

It’s no secret that the Legislature’s dominant Democrats want to make it more difficult to place initiative measures on the statewide ballot.

They say they just want to reduce ballot clutter and discourage sponsors of kooky measures, but having achieved almost total control of the legislative process, they also don’t want to contend with ballot measures that reflect contrary ideological proclivities.

However, polling has consistently shown that Californians like having the power to vote on big issues.

That preference is an opportunity for sponsors of two proposed 2016 ballot measures that would indirectly affect two big political issues – public employee pensions and the twin water tunnels that would be bored beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Rather that directly attack their targets, the two measures would subject them to public votes, banking on the affection that voters have for making decisions themselves.

Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego city councilman, and Chuck Reed, the former mayor of San Jose, are both veterans of local pension battles, and their proposed 2016 ballot measure, the “Voter Empowerment Act of 2016,” would require voter approval for any future increases in pension benefits.

They argue that voters must now approve long-term bonds, so it’s only fair that pension benefits, which once granted cannot be reduced, should have to undergo the same level of approval.

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