Thursday, September 8, 2011

Zen Vetoes

Governor Brown has been vetoing and signing. Among the vetoes were two that would have made commercial initiative signature gathering more difficult. One was a ban on paying signature gatherers by the signature. They would have then been paid by the hour which would have changed the incentive structure in a way that would have undermined name gathering. In theory, they would have sat in front of supermarkets and watched the clock tick rather than annoy people into signing. And he vetoed another bill that would have required signature gatherers to wear large badges saying they were being paid. Presumably, that would have made signature gathering more difficult since the illusion of a volunteer-for-the-great cause gathering would have been removed.

Exactly why the governor did what he did is just one of those Jerry Brown contrarian Zen mysteries. Democrats liked the bills (or they would not have passed). He is a Democrat but he vetoed them. It seems to be something like that. Anyway, from the narrow UC perspective, the vetoes mean that it will be easier for whoever (a whoever with $1-$2 million for signature gathering) to put pension initiatives doing who-knows-what on the ballot. And the who-knows-what could override the Regents’ December 2010 decision on the UC pension. Thanks, Jerry.

The governor vetoed a bill related to CalPERS survivor benefits saying action on pensions should be part of some larger pension reform. What that is will presumably be revealed in the weeks to come.

There remains the issue of when stuff might get on the ballot. Normally, initiatives that have the needed signatures are put on the next available election. The first statewide election will be the presidential primary. Since there is little mystery about who the Democratic nominee for president will be, the primary will turn out Republicans. (On the other hand, the primary is being put back to June so by that time the Republican nominee might well be known.) On the assumption that the primary will tilt toward Republicans, legislative Dems are pushing a bill that would put initiatives on the November ballot instead. We will have to see how that turns out. Yours truly is traveling at the moment and not fully up-to-date on this matter.

The governor did sign the bill making university fundraising foundations more “transparent.” See earlier blog posts on that issue.

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