Proposition 1A is the centerpiece of the February 2009 budget package created by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the California Legislature. Prop. 1A would make significant changes to the state's budgetary procedures regarding rainy day reserve accounts and state spending.
Proposition 1A was proposed by Senate Constitutional Amendment 13 of the 2007–2008 Regular Session (Resolution Chapter 144, Statutes of 2008) and Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1 of the 2009–2010 Third Extraordinary Session (Resolution Chapter 1, 2009–2010 Third Extraordinary Session). It expressly amends sections of, and adds a section to, the California Constitution. The measure was placed on the ballot when six Republicans from the Legislature crossed party lines during negotiations and agreed to a two-year extension of new tax increases so that the new taxes will be in effect for up to four years. In exchange, Democrats agreed to a 12.5 percent spending cap. The powerful California Teacher's Association agreed to support the measure with the introduction of Proposition 1B.
Rainy Day Accounts
Under current law, the state annually estimates the amount of revenues that it expects to receive in the upcoming year. It sets aside an allotment of these revenues into rainy day reserve funds in case the state experiences unforeseen expenses or economic downturns in the future year. There are two rainy day reserve funds: the Budget Stabilization Account (which is renamed by this proposition as the Budget Stabilization Fund or BSF) and the Special Fund for Economic Uncertainties (SFEU). Currently, any unexpected revenues the state receives are deposited into the SFEU. Each year, the BSF receives 3 percent of estimated General Fund state revenues. It was created through the passage of Proposition 58 in 2004. Transfers to the BSF can be halted by the Governor in years when the state is facing budget problems. Transfers are not made once the account has met its specified target of $8 billion or 5 percent of General Fund revenues, whichever is greater.
Prop. 1A would change the size and amount that the state contributes annually to the BSF. It would institute a process to ascertain unanticipated economic downturns in state earnings. These expectations would be based on revenues received over the last ten years. The process would be adjusted to exclude the impact of shorter-term taxes. Beginning in 2010-11, extra revenues would be allocated for specific purposes: Proposition 98 K-14 education funding, meeting the target for the BSF, and pay back of budgetary borrowing and debt. Any revenues left could be spent on an array of purposes including funding of infrastructure, unpaid health care liabilities for state employees, and adding to the Budget Stabilization rainy day account.
Prop. 1A would increase the reserve target of 5 percent or $8 billion to 12.5 percent
Proposition 88 would be subject to annual audits to determine that funds are not being mismanaged.
For details on public financing of education, see the California Department of Education Finance and Grants website.
Spending and Transfers
here are several existing requirements on state spending in California. Article XIIIB of the State Constitution places a limit on the amount of tax revenues that can be spent each year. The limit each year is based on the previous year's limit adjusted for population and inflation. Proposition 111, passed in 1990, revised the spending limit and introduced a new factor for determining inflation. It also doubled the state's gasoline tax (from 9 cents a gallon to 18 cents over five years) and excluded capital outlay and debt service from the limit. More recently, Proposition 58, passed by voters in 2004, requires the legislature to release a balanced budget each year. The Governor can attempt to reduce spending but legislative approval is required.
Proposition 1A would allow the Governor to reduce spending on general state operations and make cost-of-living adjustments without additional legislative approval. Prop. 1A would transfer half of the annual contribution to the BSA to two newly created accounts, the Supplemental Budget Stablization Account (SBSA) and the Supplemental Education Payment Account (SEPA). Transfers to the SEPA account are contingent on the passage of Proposition 1B (see section below) which would modify aspects of Proposition 98 education funding. If both Proposition 1A and Proposition 1B pass in May, the state would pay K-12 schools and community colleges $9.3 billion in supplemental funds to address Prop. 98 education funding reductions in the last few years. Once educational payments have been made, or if Proposition 1B does not pass, 1.5 percent of revenues each year would go into the SBSA to pay for infrastructure or state bond debt.
The Governor can currently halt transfers made into the BSF with an executive order. Under Prop. 1A, the Governor could only stop the transfer in years when the state does not have enough funds to pay for spending equal to the spending in the previous year adjusted for population changes and inflation. Prop. 1A would mandate that all SEPA transfers could not be stopped for any reason.
The February 2009 budget package includes $12.8 billion in tax increases to balance the budgets for 2008-09 and 2009-10. Proposition 1A would extend these increases for one or two additional years. The tax increases include a hike in California's Vehicle License fee, a 1-cent-per-dollar sales tax increase, and a .25% increase in the state's Personal Income Tax on all Californians. The Vehicle License fee and the state income tax would be extended two years and the sales tax would be extended for one year.
Campaign contributions database - Individual Committees (Secretary of State website)
Campaign contributions database - total (Secretary of State website) Select "May 2009 election" and "Prop.1B" in dropdown box.
Public Opinion Resources
Reports and Studies
Drowning in Debt: Bond Measures Threaten California’s Already Precarious Debt Situation
By Adam B. Summers and Anthony Randazzo, Reason Institute, October 2008
Propositions 1A and 3: Should California authorize high-speed rail and children's bonds?California Budget Project. October 2008.
California High-Speed Rail: Economic Benefits and Impacts in the San Francisco Bay Area
Bay Area Council Economic Institute. October 2008.
The California High Speed Rail Proposal: A Due Diligence Report
By Wendell Cox and Joseph Vranich. Reason Foundation. September 2008.
High Speed Rail and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the U.S.
Prepared jointly by the Center for Clean Air Policy and the Center for Neighborhood Technology. January 2006.
Audio and Video
Center for Governmental Studies