In addition to the change in partisan control of the U.S. Senate, and the Republican gains in the U.S. House of Representatives, California Republicans saw some gains in the State Legislature. The GOP was able to secure a net gain of three seats in the State Assembly, thereby eroding the Democrats’ 2/3rds majority. In the State Senate, the Republicans were able to pick-up a net gain of one seat to permanently deny a Democratic 2/3rds majority in the State Senate (the Democrats effectively lost their 2/3rds majority earlier in the year to the suspension of several Democrat members on a variety of ethics charges). While the gains were made in the Legislature by Republicans, it should be noted that Democrats won and continue to hold all statewide constitutional offices. Furthermore, it appears that Republicans will gain a few seats in California’s House of Representatives delegation, although all of these races remain undecided awaiting additional ballot counts.
In addition to elected offices, California voters faced decisions on critical policy issues contained in six ballot initiatives. The RCRC Board of Directors took official positions on four of the Propositions: 1, 2, 46, and 47. The RCRC Board of Directors voted to support Propositions 1 and 2, and oppose Propositions 46 and 47. Propositions 1, 2, and 47 passed, while Proposition 46 failed.
Proposition 1, the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Water Bond) will authorize the issuance of bonds in the amount of $7.120 billion, with $2.7 billion allocated specifically for water storage.
Proposition 2, known as the Rainy Day Fund, will require the State to divert funds in good fiscal years to the Budget Stabilization Account, to ensure State programs have funding in years of fiscal decline. Both measures, strongly supported by Governor Brown, easily obtained voter approval.
Proposition 46, the trial lawyer sponsored measure to alter the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) would have quadrupled the cap on non-economic damages in medical liability lawsuits from $250,000 to $1.1 million, with annual increases going forward. The independent Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) calculated that Proposition 46 would have significantly increased healthcare costs for state and local governments by “hundreds of millions of dollars annually.” Proposition 46 was soundly defeated by nearly a 35-point margin.
Proposition 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, increases the number of individuals whose crimes will no longer be eligible for detention in State prisons, pushing these individuals into county jails due to Assembly Bill 109 (the criminal justice realignment law). Proposition 47 will reduce penalties for a variety of specified offenses, and dedicate the purported state ‘savings’ from prosecuting and housing these offenders to programs that support K-12 schools, victim services, mental health, and drug treatment. Proposition 47 passed.
Proposition 48 was a referendum on two specific Indian Gaming Compacts that were agreed to by the Governor and the Legislature. Voters rejected Proposition 48, thereby rejecting both compacts. RCRC did not take an official position on Proposition 48.
RCRC’s “2014 California County General Election Information Unofficial Results” spreadsheet can be accessed here. This spreadsheet represents RCRC county data available as of November 6, 2014.