Prop 26 ‘ Voters Must Reject the Polluter Protection Act
by Richard Holober, Consumer Federation of California, California Progress Report
Prop 26 is a sneak attack on environmental and health regulations that costs California’s general fund a billion dollars a year. Voters must reject this big oil and big tobacco hand out, and reject it they will.
On Election eve, pollster Ben Tulchin issued a polling memo finding that Proposition 26 held a narrow lead of 42% Yes to 34% No, with 25% of voters undecided. Tulchin states the outcome ‘hangs in the balance’, too close to call. With no other polls on Prop 26 made public all election season, these numbers may trouble the broad No on 26 coalition. They shouldn’t.
The poll question describing Prop 26 is flawed. It does not present the initiative that voters will see in the voting booth. Here’s the language used in the Tulchin Poll describing Prop 26: ‘Proposition 26 would require certain state fees to be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature and certain local fees be approved by two-thirds of voters. The measure also increases the legislative vote requirement to two-thirds for certain tax measures, including those that do not result in a revenue increase. If the election were held today, would you vote yes or no on this proposition’?
Contrast that description with the ballot label that voters will read when they cast their votes: ‘PROPOSITION 26. REQUIRES THAT CERTAIN STATE AND LOCAL FEES BE APPROVED BY TWO-THIRDS VOTE. FEES INCLUDE THOSE THAT ADDRESS ADVERSE IMPACTS ON SOCIETY OR THE ENVIRONMENT CAUSED BY THE FEE-PAYER’S BUSINESS. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.
Fiscal Impact: Depending on decisions by governing bodies and voters, decreased state and local government revenues and spending (up to billions of dollars annually). Increased transportation spending and state General Fund costs ($1 billion annually).’
Significantly, the Tulchin Poll leaves out two key descriptive items found in the ballot label:
1) The fees address adverse impacts on society or the environment, and
2) Prop 26 costs the state general fund one billion dollars a year
A month ago, a prominent Democratic pollster told a small meeting I attended that his statewide poll of likely voters found Prop 26 support trailing opposition by over ten points. His poll question read the actual ballot label, and he concluded that the billion dollar hit to the general fund was the ballot measure’s Achilles Heel.
Of course an $18 million dollar Yes campaign funded by Chevron, Philip Morris and other polluters can have a big impact on these numbers. That Yes campaign is a cynical attempt by polluters and companies that profit from harming our health to offload their clean up costs onto ordinary taxpayers.
Fortunately, the Yes on 26 TV commercials feature cartoonish stereotypes of politicians conspiring to deceive the public. These shopworn clich