Donate
Election 2010 News From NPR

California Proposition Guide

Confused about what Prop. 23 means for AB32? And what's the difference between a tax and a fee? Don't panic.

Online Voter Resources

  • California Voter Guide

    See what's on the state ballot, learn about the propositions, legislative and congressional races and find out how to cast your vote.

  • SmartVoter.org

    Learn about your local ballot measures, and find your polling place.

  • Project Vote Smart

    Database of the voting records, campaign contributions, public statements and interest group ratings for state and national officials.

  • MapLight.org

    Database connecting campaign contributions, voting records of every legislator on every bill, and which interest groups support and oppose various bills.

  • TheHill.com: Endorsements

    See who and where campaign contributions are coming from.

  • PollingReport.com

    Tracks public opinion polls from various major media outlets and polling organizations.

  • Register to Vote

    Download voter registration forms.

Capital Notes

KQED's John Myers blogs from Sacramento on the election.

Recent posts:

Election Coverage from KPCC

KQED e-Newsletters

Newsletters

Get regular updates on great programs and events

Please leave this field empty

More from KQED

Election 2010: The Governor's Race

A pile of
David Paul Morris/Getty

View full version
10 Questions for Gubernatorial Candidates

Introduction

Getty Images

10 Questions for the Gubernatorial Candidates

In addition to the many substantive challenges - jobs, education, water and so on - that face California, the next governor must address a central question: What is wrong with California's government, and how can we fix it?

In that spirit, Governing California presented the candidates for governor with the following ten questions about how the state is - and should be - governed.

Jerry Brown Democratic

Chris Carlson/AP

Governing California has reached out repeatedly to Democratic candidate Jerry Brown. He has so far failed to provide answers to these questions. With the help of California Watch's Politics Verbatim project, we found statements by Brown that address some questions of governance and we include them here.

1. Some observers believe California's system of government doesn't work because it can't work - they cite things like supermajority vote rules, inflexible initiatives and a convoluted relationship between state and local government. Is the problem systemic? And what would you do as governor to make government work better?

We've got to return authority to the local level. A lot of the problem of [Proposition] 13 is that because the state provided bailout and money, the state took over more and more power, micromanaging the schools, sending more and more controls down to cities and counties and special districts. I would do my utmost to return authority and decision making to local communities where it's closer to the people. (Third Gubernatorial Debate, Dominican University, Oct. 25, 2010)

2. How would you ensure that California passes a credible budget - on time? Given supermajority rules on taxing and spending, how can state leaders get consensus on the budget, especially when money's tight?

Two weeks after this election I believe the next governor should call all 120 legislators into the room and start going over this budget in detail. Then I want to bring in the special interest groups, I want to work on a budget analysis and workout plan in November, December and January. I want to take it on the road. I want to go to Los Angeles and San Diego. You said earlier, people have certain ideas about the budget. We have to articulate in a very clear way. What is California government? What do we want in our schools, in our prisons, in our highways, in our waterworks? (Third Gubernatorial Debate, Dominican University, Oct. 25, 2010)

3. California is the only state requiring a two-thirds vote to both pass a budget and raise taxes. It also has the most persistently unbalanced budgets. Is the supermajority system at the root of the state's fiscal crisis and do you favor Prop. 25? If not, why is California's system superior to that in other states?

I hope we get a majority vote for the budget. Not for taxes. Another part of my proposal for fixing this budget mess, is a 'pay as you go' requirement. Any time you propose a bill, tell us how you're going to fund it. (Third Gubernatorial Debate, Dominican University, Oct. 25, 2010)

There are no sacred cows. Over the long term, we have to look at things. But I support the implementation of Proposition 13. (Third Gubernatorial Debate, Dominican University, Oct. 25, 2010)

4. To restore stability to California's volatile budget, government reformers have various proposals, including shifting taxes away from the rich, creating a bigger rainy day fund and pay-as-you-go budgeting. What approach do you favor?

I think the income tax is contributing an excessive amount to the state budget. When I was governor, the income tax was lower than the sales tax. It was about 33 percent of the general fund. Now it's 55 percent. It's far too unstable, and the tax base has to be broader than it is today. No, California taxes are very high on high-wealth individuals. They're higher than they are in the rest of the country [except for Hawaii and Oregon]. If you make California such a high-tax state, you're going to deter investment, and you're going to deter people from wanting to live here. I mean, we're in a competitive world. (Los Angeles Magazine interview, June 2010)

It's called a rainy day fund, and that's exactly what California needs today. Then when you go into a recession, you don't have to lay everyone off, but you spend your surplus until the economy comes back. (Los Angeles Magazine interview, June 2010)

Adopt a "pay-as-you-go" funding approach: I will veto legislation that proposes new spending programs without adequate revnue sources. I will also propose a constitutional amendment to require that any ballot initiative must provide an adequate revenue source for any new spending mandated by law. ("Get California's Government Working Again," p. 3, www.jerrybrown.org)

5. California's initiative process allows voters to pass measures that increase state spending or cut taxes without saying how such changes would be paid for. Should we require initiatives to identify funding to offset their effect on the budget?

Governing California's research found no sufficient answer.

6. California's initiative process is the most inflexible in the world. Every other state with an initiative system allows its legislature to make changes to a law enacted by voters. Would you favor reforming the process to give legislators more say?

Chris Matthews: Has all this effort to keep refining laws as amateurs been a good political system for California?

Jerry Brown: No, it hasn't been good. Certainly a big part is the abysmal lack of confidence in the legislature itself. So, people say let's go to the ballot box. And then the ballot box becomes subject to this massive, highly financed campaigns. And that really is the key point here. That the governor is so constrained. It isn't enough to say, I'm going to give a bunch of edicts and lay people off and do whatever I want. The next governor has got to herd cats. He's got to get these 120 legislators in a room, focus them, get some solutions, and then if they can't pull it off, then ask the people themselves to weigh in on some of the key issues. (MSNBC Hardball with Chris Matthews, July 9, 2010)

7. California has the largest legislative districts of any state and the strictest term limits. Do those factors contribute to the legislature's diminished reputation? How can we ensure continuity and effectiveness from our legislature?

I've learned that you've got to respect legislators, number one. Because most governors don't. And that's very important to move the ball along. Number two, you have to craft a very focused agenda. You really have to build one brick on top of another. The legislature has 4,000 bills. Those bills represent hundreds of lobbyists, hundreds of millions of dollars of investments and concerns and loyalties and desires. Now the governor comes along and says, "Guess what? I've got a plan. I want a water plan. I want to change education. I want to do this." Well, the governor has to connect that to what the legislature wants. (GQ Magazine interview, October 2010)

8. Should redistricting be the job of a citizen commission? Can putting redistricting back in the hands of partisan legislators be considered good governance?

Governing California's research found no sufficient answer.

9. California's constitution, one of the world's longest, can be changed by a simple majority of voters. Should we make it harder to amend the constitution or does it serve us well? Does it need a major overhaul and, if so, how can we pull that off?

Governing California's research found no sufficient answer.

10. Three out of four voters - 12.7 million people - didn't vote in this year's primaries and many are likely to stay home on Nov. 2. Does California's electoral system serve its citizens well? How could we structure campaign funding and elections to ensure government more fully and fairly represents all Californians?

Governing California's research found no sufficient answer.

Meg Whitman Republican

Jason Redmond/AP

Governing California has reached out repeatedly to Republican candidate Meg Whitman. She has so far failed to provide answers to these questions. With the help of California Watch's Politics Verbatim project, we found statements by Whitman that address some questions of governance and we include them here.

1. Some observers believe California's system of government doesn't work because it can't work - they cite things like supermajority vote rules, inflexible initiatives and a convoluted relationship between state and local government. Is the problem systemic? And what would you do as governor to make government work better?

I think there are some structural reforms that we should undertake. I have read California Crackup [by Mark Paul and Joe Mathews, University of California Press, 2010] and I think there are a lot of very good points in there. Here are a couple of things: We should go to a two-year budgeting cycle, absolutely. We don't have the horizon to make long-term investments. We have to reform the initiative process. (Capital Notes, The California Report, Oct. 25, 2010)

The problem with California government is certainly systemic. Supermajority voting rules and various other aspects of California democracy do not assist with this systemic problem but those aspects are not the problem itself. The problem is that the state is under the control of the capitalist class of wealthy owners and serves this tiny minority in their drive for super-profits rather than the interests of the vast majority of Californians. I would work to transform California government so that people are appointed to administrative positions and commissions and councils are set up that serve the interest of workers in California.

2. How would you ensure that California passes a credible budget - on time? Given supermajority rules on taxing and spending, how can state leaders get consensus on the budget, especially when money's tight?

I'm not in favor of a simple majority. What I am in favor of is a two year budgeting cycle. I think that will make a big difference. And I am in favor of getting to work on this budget much, much earlier. It was completely predictable in January of 2010 that we are going to find ourselves in the position that we find ourselves with a $19 billion budget deficit. Why the legislature and the governor were not working to find all the possible cost savings as early as January, I do not know. (Sacramento Bee, June 30, 2010)

I would eliminate the budget deficit entirely by taxing the rich, corporations, banks, and Big Oil while also doing away with breaks and subsidies. Money shouldn't come from flat taxes that disproportionately affect working and poor people.

3. California is the only state requiring a two-thirds vote to both pass a budget and raise taxes. It also has the most persistently unbalanced budgets. Is the supermajority system at the root of the state's fiscal crisis and do you favor Prop. 25? If not, why is California's system superior to that in other states?

Meg will oppose any attempt to repeal California's requirement to have a two-thirds majority in the Legislature to pass a budget agreement or tax increase. Lowering the threshold to a simple majority is nothing more than a license for Sacramento to raise our taxes. ("Building a New California: Meg Whitman's Policy Agenda," p. 22)

Proposition 13 is absolutely essential to the future of California and I want to defend proposition 13. What proposition 13 does is keep a lid on property taxes. (Third Gubernatorial Debate, Dominican University, Oct. 25, 2010)

4. To restore stability to California's volatile budget, government reformers have various proposals, including shifting taxes away from the rich, creating a bigger rainy day fund and pay-as-you-go budgeting. What approach do you favor?

To inject a level of certainty into the budget process, Meg will propose a strict spending limit based on the state's Gross Domestic Product. This budget reform will lock spending in at a rate that will not increase unless the state's economy is growing with it. The spending cap will enforce fiscal discipline throughout state government and protect taxpayers from future tax hikes. ("Building a New California: Meg Whitman's Policy Agenda," p. 22)

"There is a proposition on the ballot in November that actually makes it illegal for the state to take money from cities and counties to balance the budget," said Whitman, who is known for being disciplined in sticking to her talking points during campaign events and discussions with the press. "I think it's the right thing to do. I'll be supporting that initiative." (Los Angeles Times PolitiCal blog, Sep. 14, 2010)

5. California's initiative process allows voters to pass measures that increase state spending or cut taxes without saying how such changes would be paid for. Should we require initiatives to identify funding to offset their effect on the budget?

Governing California's research found no sufficient answer.

6. California's initiative process is the most inflexible in the world. Every other state with an initiative system allows its legislature to make changes to a law enacted by voters. Would you favor reforming the process to give legislators more say?

We have to reform the initiative process. I like direct democracy. There are many good things about it, but you can't have ballots with 13 and 14 initiatives on it, I mean people are throwing up their hands. (Capital Notes, The California Report, Oct. 25, 2010)

7. California has the largest legislative districts of any state and the strictest term limits. Do those factors contribute to the legislature's diminished reputation? How can we ensure continuity and effectiveness from our legislature?

I think we ought to go to a part-time legislature. You look at Florida, you look at Texas: they have part time legislatures. That seems to make sense. Either we get these legislators to work effectively and solve the problems of California, i.e., jobs, spending and education, or it needs to be a part time legislature, because it's not working right now. As you know the legislature has a nine percent approval rating and that says to me that people don't think they're doing the job. (Capital Notes, The California Report, Oct. 25, 2010)

Whitman repeated her promise to "veto every single piece of legislation that is not on point to the crisis we face." "The Legislature has become a bill factory," Whitman said. "Last year they served up nearly 2,000 pieces of legislation, the governor signed into law nearly 700 pieces of legislation, almost none that were on point to any crisis we face. "Almost every bit of that new legislation comes with spending. I want to veto that legislation unless it's about jobs, spending or education." (City News Service, Oct. 11, 2010, via www.politicsverbatim.org)

8. Should redistricting be the job of a citizen commission? Can putting redistricting back in the hands of partisan legislators be considered good governance?

Governing California's research found no sufficient answer.

9. California's constitution, one of the world's longest, can be changed by a simple majority of voters. Should we make it harder to amend the constitution or does it serve us well? Does it need a major overhaul and, if so, how can we pull that off?

Governing California's research found no sufficient answer.

10. Three out of four voters - 12.7 million people - didn't vote in this year's primaries and many are likely to stay home on Nov. 2. Does California's electoral system serve its citizens well? How could we structure campaign funding and elections to ensure government more fully and fairly represents all Californians?

Governing California's research found no sufficient answer.

Carlos Alvarez Peace and Freedom

Courtesy Peace and Freedom Party

1. Some observers believe California's system of government doesn't work because it can't work - they cite things like supermajority vote rules, inflexible initiatives and a convoluted relationship between state and local government. Is the problem systemic? And what would you do as governor to make government work better?

The problem with California government is certainly systemic. Supermajority voting rules and various other aspects of California democracy do not assist with this systemic problem but those aspects are not the problem itself. The problem is that the state is under the control of the capitalist class of wealthy owners and serves this tiny minority in their drive for super-profits rather than the interests of the vast majority of Californians. I would work to transform California government so that people are appointed to administrative positions and commissions and councils are set up that serve the interest of workers in California.

2. How would you ensure that California passes a credible budget - on time? Given supermajority rules on taxing and spending, how can state leaders get consensus on the budget, especially when money's tight?

I would eliminate the budget deficit entirely by taxing the rich, corporations, banks, and Big Oil while also doing away with breaks and subsidies. Money shouldn't come from flat taxes that disproportionately affect working and poor people.

3. California is the only state requiring a two-thirds vote to both pass a budget and raise taxes. It also has the most persistently unbalanced budgets. Is the supermajority system at the root of the state's fiscal crisis and do you favor Prop. 25? If not, why is California's system superior to that in other states?

I am in full support of Prop. 25 and believe that a simple majority should rule for all issues in California.

4. To restore stability to California's volatile budget, government reformers have various proposals, including shifting taxes away from the rich, creating a bigger rainy day fund and pay-as-you-go budgeting. What approach do you favor?

I favor the creation of new revenue sources by increasing taxes on the rich and capitalist owners as high as necessary to fully fund what workers in California need.

5. California's initiative process allows voters to pass measures that increase state spending or cut taxes without saying how such changes would be paid for. Should we require initiatives to identify funding to offset their effect on the budget?

This would be made unnecessary if actual revenue sources were created by taxing the rich, corporations, and Big Oil.

6. California's initiative process is the most inflexible in the world. Every other state with an initiative system allows its legislature to make changes to a law enacted by voters. Would you favor reforming the process to give legislators more say?

No.

7. California has the largest legislative districts of any state and the strictest term limits. Do those factors contribute to the legislature's diminished reputation? How can we ensure continuity and effectiveness from our legislature?

The service of capitalist interests who are also campaign financiers is what has lead to the diminished reputation of the state legislature and caused their ineffectiveness. I will put a stop to corporate donations so that politicians are held accountable to their constituents rather than the people writing them checks.

8. Should redistricting be the job of a citizen commission? Can putting redistricting back in the hands of partisan legislators be considered good governance?

Yes.

9. California's constitution, one of the world's longest, can be changed by a simple majority of voters. Should we make it harder to amend the constitution or does it serve us well? Does it need a major overhaul and, if so, how can we pull that off?

The process for amendment should not be changed.

10. Three out of four voters - 12.7 million people - didn't vote in this year's primaries and many are likely to stay home on Nov. 2. Does California's electoral system serve its citizens well? How could we structure campaign funding and elections to ensure government more fully and fairly represents all Californians?

First we can start by giving equal time to all candidates and removing corporate funding of campaigns. Then voters will gain access to third party candidates and have real alternatives to the pro-capitalist two-party system. Until then the disillusionment with voting caused by the fact that Democrats and Republicans have very little political differences will not go away. People need real alternatives and this is why I am running for Governor.

Chelene Nightingale American Indep.

Chelene Nightingale/Facebook

Governing California has reached out repeatedly to American Independent candidate Chelene Nightingale. She has so far failed to provide answers to these questions.

Dale F. Ogden Libertarian

Courtesy Dale Ogden

1. Some observers believe California's system of government doesn't work because it can't work - they cite things like supermajority vote rules, inflexible initiatives and a convoluted relationship between state and local government. Is the problem systemic? And what would you do as governor to make government work better?

In my opinion, state government works too well. We have excessive taxes, too many laws, too many regulations, too much welfare, too many government employees, etc. It has been too easy for the legislature to pass laws and increase taxes and spending. When Democrats and Republicans compromise, the taxpayers lose; they compromise with other people's money. Most of the laws passed by the legislature are for the special interests (especially unions) that fund their campaigns, and those laws cost the citizens and, especially the taxpayers, either directly through increased spending by the state government or indirectly by regulations that limit competition and the formation of new businesses. We have too many laws and too much micromanagement of our every aspect of our lives, the economy, education, and our personal lives. A part-time legislature whose members are forced to live and work under the laws they pass wouldn't have time to pass so many laws.

2. How would you ensure that California passes a credible budget - on time? Given supermajority rules on taxing and spending, how can state leaders get consensus on the budget, especially when money's tight?

I am not concerned with passing a budget on time. I am concerned that we pass a budget that cuts taxes and spending to minimal necessary levels, and that gets government get out of our lives. Most of what is done by the State is unnecessary at best or usually harmful and it would be good for the government to be shut down for a couple weeks or months and then people can see just how useless most of it is. If it's not essential, it doesn't need to be done.

3. California is the only state requiring a two-thirds vote to both pass a budget and raise taxes. It also has the most persistently unbalanced budgets. Is the supermajority system at the root of the state's fiscal crisis and do you favor Prop. 25? If not, why is California's system superior to that in other states?

I strongly oppose Proposition 25. We have dysfunctional government in California because the government employee unions control too many politicians; they get to pick their own bosses. The last thing needed is to make it easier for the legislature to spend money.

4. To restore stability to California's volatile budget, government reformers have various proposals, including shifting taxes away from the rich, creating a bigger rainy day fund and pay-as-you-go budgeting. What approach do you favor?

How about we completely abolish income-based taxes and reduce sales taxes and then spend no more than we collect. We should permanently roll-back spending to or below the level of 1998 (adjusted for inflation and population) or further if necessary, and limit future spending (excess revenue should be used to retire debt, build infrastructure, or returned to the people). I would never sign a budget that does not reduce spending to those levels. And, there should be absolutely no borrowing for the State's general fund. The line item veto is a very powerful tool with which the Governor can stop wasteful spending, eliminate harmful, useless, and duplicative regulatory agencies, downsize other state agencies, roll back out-of-control spending, and reduce bloated salaries, benefits and pensions for state employees.

5. California's initiative process allows voters to pass measures that increase state spending or cut taxes without saying how such changes would be paid for. Should we require initiatives to identify funding to offset their effect on the budget?

If an initiative provides a benefit to someone, it should be required to identify the source of funding; however, if an initiative places limits on government, such a requirement should not be required. We also need to make it more difficult to pass Constitutional amendments. A two-thirds vote, rather than a majority, should be required. Likewise, approval of any and all bonds should be restored to the two-thirds vote requirement.

6. California's initiative process is the most inflexible in the world. Every other state with an initiative system allows its legislature to make changes to a law enacted by voters. Would you favor reforming the process to give legislators more say?

Generally, no; it is abundantly clear that, for the most part, the legislature cannot be trusted. The courts are available to "fix" ballot initiatives and have shown tremendous creativity in upholding (often rewriting) and rejecting initiatives. We do not need the legislature doing the same. It might be OK for certain minor changes to initiatives to be made that do not affect the intent of an initiative if passed by a two-thirds majority of both houses of the legislature and approved by the Governor, but I am not sure about this.

7. California has the largest legislative districts of any state and the strictest term limits. Do those factors contribute to the legislature's diminished reputation? How can we ensure continuity and effectiveness from our legislature?

Redistricting by the citizens commission might be a good start to making the legislature more responsive to citizens. If we switch to a part-time legislature, it could make sense to shrink the districts and have a larger, and likely more diverse group in the legislature. Term limits for full-time politicians are absolutely necessary. For part-timers, they may not be as important. But as one who believes that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely (and there are countless examples of this in Sacramento, Washington, DC, and elsewhere), I am against any loosening of term limits.

8. Should redistricting be the job of a citizen commission? Can putting redistricting back in the hands of partisan legislators be considered good governance?

Redistricting should be the job of a citizen commission, not in the hands of partisan legislators. Again, we have countless examples of gerrymandering throughout in Sacramento, Washington, DC, and elsewhere. Legislators should not be able to control any aspect of their employment by the state, including salaries, benefits, etc.

9. California's constitution, one of the world's longest, can be changed by a simple majority of voters. Should we make it harder to amend the constitution or does it serve us well? Does it need a major overhaul and, if so, how can we pull that off?

I already answered this; a two-thirds majority of voters should be required for Constitutional Amendments. Another improvement would be to limit all ballot initiatives, for state and local governments, to the general elections in November of even-number years. There are too many initiatives that pass with a simple majority of votes in elections where only small numbers of people show up, sometimes only 10-15% of votes show up and 5-10% may be enough to impose their will on 100% of Californians.

10. Three out of four voters - 12.7 million people - didn't vote in this year's primaries and many are likely to stay home on Nov. 2. Does California's electoral system serve its citizens well? How could we structure campaign funding and elections to ensure government more fully and fairly represents all Californians?

Many people feel like their votes don't count; I have encountered thousands of people who express surprise that there are other candidates for Governor, not just the Democrat and the Republican. They are tired of picking the lesser of two evils. Many people are also not very much interested in politics. We often hear laments that people don't vote but, if you do not understand the issues and initiatives, then why vote. An uninformed, which also includes just about everyone who votes strictly by party line, is worse than no vote at all.

Laura Wells Green

Courtesy Laura Wells

1. Some observers believe California's system of government doesn't work because it can't work - they cite things like supermajority vote rules, inflexible initiatives and a convoluted relationship between state and local government. Is the problem systemic? And what would you do as governor to make government work better?

Yes, the problem is the system, and those who benefit from it, including the two status-quo Titanic Party candidates who have a hands-off relationship to addressing the systemic problems, and particularly the destructive aspects of the old Prop 13.

As the first Green Governor, I would continue to do what I am doing now as a candidate. I will do everything I can to speak out to the citizens - who are the ones with the power to correct the system - about the destructive aspects of the two 2/3 majority requirements in the legislature.

Also, I would immediately begin the implementation of a State Bank for California, partnered with local banks and credit unions, which would invest in California, not Wall Street.

2. How would you ensure that California passes a credible budget - on time? Given supermajority rules on taxing and spending, how can state leaders get consensus on the budget, especially when money's tight?

Given the rules in place, Sacramento cannot pass a credible budget that affects all income levels in a fair way. Because of the old Prop 13 passed in 1978, a small one-third minority of legislators has veto power over taxing mega-corporations and billionaires, while a simple majority of legislators can reduce taxes. After reducing taxes, legislators expect and receive from the wealthy beneficiaries campaign funding, which in turn helps convince the rest of us that the tax cuts helped us, and the cycle continues.

3. California is the only state requiring a two-thirds vote to both pass a budget and raise taxes. It also has the most persistently unbalanced budgets. Is the supermajority system at the root of the state's fiscal crisis and do you favor Prop. 25? If not, why is California's system superior to that in other states?

Yes, the minority rule system is at the root of the fiscal crisis. Prop 25 is a baby step in the right direction; however it only addresses the two-thirds majority required for budget approval. That requirement was passed in 1933, and California had golden decades after that, until the unraveling began in 1978 with the passage of Prop 13.

The real reason the budget is not balanced is due to lack of income. Since the passage of old Prop 13, taxes have been lifted off the corporations and individuals that have a lot of money, and placed squarely on the rest of us. The taxes that take a bigger chunk of money from the middle class, lower income, and even relatively affluent include sales tax, tuition hikes, parcel taxes, and municipal fees such as parking fees and fines. Meanwhile budgets for schools, libraries, parks, transit, and healthcare have been slashed.

4. To restore stability to California's volatile budget, government reformers have various proposals, including shifting taxes away from the rich, creating a bigger rainy day fund and pay-as-you-go budgeting. What approach do you favor?

Even if it's only for practical reasons rather than reasons of fairness and creating opportunities for our next generations and ourselves, we should go back to the tried-and-true method of collecting taxes from the individuals and corporations that have money. That would pave the way for us to create a rainy day fund, and to pay-as-we-go rather than paying for things with bonds (described as "no new taxes") that our future generations will end up paying for.

5. California's initiative process allows voters to pass measures that increase state spending or cut taxes without saying how such changes would be paid for. Should we require initiatives to identify funding to offset their effect on the budget?

The initiatives, whether they have to do with the budget, criminal justice, democratic reforms, or other areas of importance, are enormously influenced by money, in everything from paying for signature gathering to funding ads that sway voters to vote for or against. To fix the initiative process, take the money influence out of it, and implement what's known as Citizen Initiative Reviews so that ordinary citizens can investigate the initiatives, using a variety of experts as resources, and make informed recommendations to the voters.

6. California's initiative process is the most inflexible in the world. Every other state with an initiative system allows its legislature to make changes to a law enacted by voters. Would you favor reforming the process to give legislators more say?

Yes, especially after we improve our ability to elect legislators that really represent us. Budget trade-offs need to be dealt with altogether; the big picture must be seen. Also, we can begin to implement participatory budgeting as other countries in this hemisphere have done, from Canada to Brazil.

7. California has the largest legislative districts of any state and the strictest term limits. Do those factors contribute to the legislature's diminished reputation? How can we ensure continuity and effectiveness from our legislature?

While smaller legislative districts could help, a much bigger improvement to democracy would be to adopt a method used in more than 70 countries in the world: proportional representation. Other countries have leapfrogged over our once-great democracy. In a five-person district, for example, people would be motivated to vote for exactly the person whose values and positions they agree with, since a 20% vote would give their choice a seat at the legislative table. Term limits should be abolished and replaced by an effective system of recalls, after the halfway point in a term.

8. Should redistricting be the job of a citizen commission? Can putting redistricting back in the hands of partisan legislators be considered good governance?

I would again advocate for proportional representation. Winner-take-all districts, no matter how beautifully they are redistricted, often leave about half the voters in the status of being represented by a person they did not vote for. And those who did vote for the winner end up disappointed too, as the statistics of dissatisfaction with the legislature show.

9. California's constitution, one of the world's longest, can be changed by a simple majority of voters. Should we make it harder to amend the constitution or does it serve us well? Does it need a major overhaul and, if so, how can we pull that off?

A constitutional convention should be established to do a major overhaul of the constitution. There are ways it could be facilitated so the best of the people's ideas would be embodied in the new constitution.

10. Three out of four voters - 12.7 million people - didn't vote in this year's primaries and many are likely to stay home on Nov. 2. Does California's electoral system serve its citizens well? How could we structure campaign funding and elections to ensure government more fully and fairly represents all Californians?

No, the electoral system does not serve its citizens well, and I reject the idea that it's because of apathy. People do care. They care about their neighborhoods and their state; they have just observed that the people they voted for did not do what they voted for them to do.

I have long been an election reform activist (I was on the team that got Instant Runoff Voting a 69% voter approval in Oakland), but I have realized that most recent electoral system changes have worsened, not improved, our democracy. While we still can advocate for constructive change in our electoral system, I have become convinced that those changes will happen after we achieve a government of people rather than a government of money and corporations. We need to get elected first, and then change the system. The status quo will not implement changes that will reduce their power. That is why we are continuing my Green Party campaign for Governor after November 2. We will continue to reject corporate campaign contributions, and we will take more time to reach out to people with the goal to Win With Green in 2014.

The California Report | Friday, Jan 07, 2011, 4:30 PM

Brown Takes Office

It was back to the future this week in Sacramento, where the 34th governor became California's 39th governor. Jerry Brown may be the oldest person ever to become governor in California, but he's ushered in a very new tone compared with his predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.



The California Report | Monday, Jan 03, 2011, 8:50 AM

Jerry Brown Takes the Reins, Faces Fiscal Mess

A new governor takes the reins in Sacramento today -- and instantly, he'll be handed one of the state's biggest financial messes.



The California Report | Thursday, Dec 30, 2010, 8:50 AM

The Once and Future Governor

On January 6, 1975, gas was 44 cents a gallon, Elton John's version of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" was at the top of the charts, and Jerry Brown was inaugurated as Governor of California for the first time. Next week, nearly three decades after he left that office in 1983, Jerry Brown returns as the state's chief executive.



The California Report | Friday, Nov 19, 2010, 4:30 PM

The Brown Transition

There are still more than six weeks until Arnold Schwarzenegger leaves office, but Governor-elect Jerry Brown is already being pressed to say what he's going to do when he takes over.



The California Report | Wednesday, Nov 10, 2010, 8:50 AM

California GOP Ponders Its Failures

It was a very bad political season for the California GOP. There's disagreement over whether the Republican problem is the messengers or the message.



The California Report | Friday, Nov 05, 2010, 4:30 PM

Brown and the Legislature

Two days after being elected governor, Jerry Brown is hitting the ground running. On Thursday, Brown held meetings in Sacramento with legislative leaders from both parties, pledging a bipartisan approach to solving the state's massive problems.



Forum | Friday, Nov 05, 2010, 9:30 AM

Governor Brown Redux

We talk with two longtime Jerry Brown-watchers about how the newly-elected governor is likely to approach budget deficits, unemployment and the many other challenges facing the Golden State.



The California Report | Thursday, Nov 04, 2010, 8:50 AM

Brown Ready to Find Solutions for California's Mess

Governor-elect Jerry Brown has bragged he's been in "the kitchen" of state government before. But -- to stretch the metaphor -- he now faces a sink full of dirty dishes.



Forum | Wednesday, Nov 03, 2010, 9:00 AM

Election Results

Our election coverage continues with a discussion of local and state results from Tuesday's balloting.



The California Report | Wednesday, Nov 03, 2010, 8:50 AM

Brown Defeats Whitman

Jerry Brown won the governor's seat, beating back the biggest spending contender in American history.



The California Report | Tuesday, Nov 02, 2010, 9:00 PM

The California Report Election Special

In this two-and-a-half hour special program, host Scott Shafer checks in with reporters in the field, and gets analysis on California election results as they come in from Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers and Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo.



The California Report | Tuesday, Nov 02, 2010, 8:20 PM

Statewide Election Update

We review the first California election returns, including early leads by Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer. Host Scott Shafer talks with Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo, Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers and Los Angeles Bureau Chief Krissy Clark.



The California Report | Monday, Nov 01, 2010, 8:50 AM

Gubernatorial Candidates Make Final Push

Over the weekend, while other Californians focused on Halloween or the Giants game, the candidates for governor mobilized for one last push to win over voters ahead of the election tomorrow.



The California Report | Friday, Oct 29, 2010, 4:30 PM

Campaign Check: The Final Push

The race for governor is one for the record books, at least in terms of money spent. Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers joins us to talk about Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman's final push to November 2nd.



Forum | Wednesday, Oct 27, 2010, 9:30 AM

Whitman and Brown on Education

We hold a debate between education advisers to the Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman campaigns.



The California Report | Wednesday, Oct 27, 2010, 8:50 AM

Election 2010: The Governor's Race and the Youth Vote

Every election cycle, there's at least one group of voters that's touted as the critical demographic -- soccer moms in 1996, and NASCAR dads in 2004. In 2008, it seemed to be all about the record-setting youth vote. But will young people turn out for the California governor's race?



KQED News | Monday, Oct 25, 2010, 10:04 AM

Brown Pulling Away From Whitman, Poll Shows

The latest USC-Los Angeles Times poll shows Democrat Jerry Brown pulling away from Republican Meg Whitman in the governor's race. The poll also shows Republican Carly Fiorina trailing Democratic incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer. The survey of 1,500 voters was jointly produced by two polling firms: one Democratic, and one Republican.



The California Report | Monday, Oct 25, 2010, 8:50 AM

Election 2010: Interview With Meg Whitman

In a one-on-one conversation with Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers this past weekend, Meg Whitman sounded confident about her chances in the governor's race, despite a new poll giving Jerry Brown a commanding 13-point lead.



THIS WEEK in Northern California | Friday, Oct 22, 2010, 8:00 PM

ELECTION SPECIAL for October 22, 2010

The stakes for California are high in the November 2nd election, and the differences between the candidates and the directions they want take the state are many. This Week in Northern California's Election Special starts at the top of the ballot with tight races for Governor, Lt. Governor, U.S. Senate and state Attorney General. We look at hotly contested local races from Stockton to Oakland and Richmond, explain key state and local ballot propositions, and assess new and critical influences on this election.



The California Report | Friday, Oct 22, 2010, 4:30 PM

Campaign Check: Brown and Whitman's Plans to Generate Jobs

New figures from the state on Friday shows our unemployment rate stuck at 12.4 percent in September: that's more than two million Californians without a job.



The California Report | Thursday, Oct 21, 2010, 8:50 AM

New Poll Shows Brown Widening Lead, Props Failing

A new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California shows Jerry Brown leading Meg Whitman 44% to 36%. Senator Barbara Boxer has a narrower lead in her reelection bid against Carly Fiorina.



The California Report | Wednesday, Oct 20, 2010, 8:50 AM

Governing California: What Reforms Would Candidates Suggest?

In our series "Governing California: Making Sense of Our State of Disarray", we've been looking at various proposals to fix the system. Today, our Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers takes a look at proposals put forward by the two leading candidates for governor, Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman.



THIS WEEK in Northern California | Friday, Oct 15, 2010, 8:00 PM

News Panel for October 15, 2010

Election campaign activity heats up with a spirited debate between the gubernatorial hopefuls, an onslaught of media ads and high-profile national politicians making appearances of support. Our examination of the ballot measures continues: Proposition 22 would prevent the state government from raiding local funds, while Prop. 24 would repeal recent corporate tax provisions that allow businesses to shift losses to prior tax years. And a federal judge rules the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gay men and women in the military is unconstitutional.



The California Report | Friday, Oct 15, 2010, 4:30 PM

Campaign Check: Brown And Whitman's Final Debate

The final debate between gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown gives us plenty to talk about on this week's edition of Campaign Check. We dissect some of the candidate's claims on taxes, green jobs and pensions.



The California Report | Tuesday, Oct 12, 2010, 6:30 PM

Analyzing the Debate

Three weeks before Election Day, polls show the race is still very close. Both candidates took strong stances on immigration, and Brown apologized for a leaked conversation from his campaign, then asked why it was recorded in the first place. Host Scott Shafer and a panel of guests analyze the final Brown-Whitman debate.



The California Report | Tuesday, Oct 12, 2010, 6:30 PM

California Gubernatorial Debate

Listen to the final gubernatorial debate between Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman, moderated by NBC News' Tom Brokaw.



The California Report | Friday, Oct 08, 2010, 4:30 PM

Campaign Check: The Latino Vote

Today, our weekly "Campaign Check" series looks at the Latino vote. What are the Brown and Whitman campaigns doing to win it? We talk with Louis DeSipio, chair of the Chicano/Latino Studies Department at UC Irvine.



The California Report | Monday, Oct 04, 2010, 8:50 AM

Second Brown-Whitman Debate Focuses on Immigration

On Saturday, gubernatorial candidates Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman held their second debate on the campus of Fresno State in an event sponsored by Univision. After news broke that Whitman had employed an undocumented housekeeper for nine years, many were eager to see how the issue would play with Latino voters.



THIS WEEK in Northern California | Friday, Oct 01, 2010, 8:00 PM

News Panel for October 1, 2010

California voters were given a clear choice in the debates between Democratic and Republican candidates for governor and U.S Senator. Proposition 20 would expand the power of a Citizens Redistricting Commission in determining congressional districts, while Prop 27 would eliminate the CRC and return the task of redistricting to the Legislature. And executions in the updated death chamber at San Quentin Prison are on hold until next year.



The California Report | Friday, Oct 01, 2010, 4:30 PM

Campaign Check: The First Brown-Whitman Debate

We continue our weekly Campaign Check series, in which we carefully assess some of the biggest claims Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown have put forward during the governor's race. This week, we examine the first Brown-Whitman debate with Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers.



The California Report | Friday, Oct 01, 2010, 4:30 PM

Allegations Against Meg Whitman

There are a lot of open questions regarding the news that Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman employed an undocumented immigrant for nine years. How much did Whitman know, and when? Will voters care?



The California Report | Thursday, Sep 30, 2010, 8:50 AM

Hiring Undocumented Immigrants Now a Personal Issue for Whitman

Meg Whitman, the Republican candidate for governor, has acknowledged she hired an undocumented immigrant to work in her home for nine years. Whitman says she didn't know the woman was in the country illegally.



KQED News | Wednesday, Sep 29, 2010, 12:04 PM

Whitman Says She Didn't Know Worker Was Undocumented

Meg Whitman's campaign has admitted that the Republican candidate for governor employed an undocumented immigrant for nine years. However, it's unclear if Whitman knew that worker was illegal, or mistreated the worker.



Forum | Wednesday, Sep 29, 2010, 9:30 AM

Election 2010: Third-Party Candidates for Governor

Our election coverage continues with a roundtable featuring the candidates for California governor representing the Peace and Freedom, American Independent, Libertarian and Green parties.



Forum | Wednesday, Sep 29, 2010, 9:00 AM

Election 2010: Gubernatorial Debate Analysis

We discuss Tuesday night's gubernatorial debate between Democratic nominee Jerry Brown and Republican nominee Meg Whitman. The debate is the first of three the candidates have agreed to.



The California Report | Wednesday, Sep 29, 2010, 8:50 AM

First Brown-Whitman Debate: No Surprises but Plenty of Differences

Last night, Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown wrapped up the first of three debates broadcast to a statewide audience. The debate provided few surprises -- but it did offer a clear picture of just how different the two candidates are and how they would approach the job of governor.



The California Report | Friday, Sep 24, 2010, 4:30 PM

Campaign Check: Brown and the Budget

With a tentative budget framework finally being discussed in Sacramento, we look at budget fixes in this week's installment of "Campaign Check."



The California Report | Friday, Sep 17, 2010, 4:30 PM

Campaign Check: Meg Whitman and Jobs

There are new signs that the recession in California isn't going to fade any time soon. How to turn that around is a big issue in the race for governor. Everywhere she goes, Republican nominee Meg Whitman says California is on the wrong track. But is it really that simple? And are the solutions that Meg Whitman proposes the right ones?



KQED News | Thursday, Sep 16, 2010, 7:05 AM

Whitman Breaks Spending Record

Republican Meg Whitman has set a record in her race for governor. She has now spent more of her own money in a campaign than any candidate in US history. Whitman has poured $119 million into the race, including the GOP primary. The former eBay CEO broke the record set by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg last year.



KQED News | Wednesday, Sep 15, 2010, 4:32 PM

Whitman Scores a Campaign Spending Record

Republican Meg Whitman has just written contributed another $15 million to her campaign for governor. That brings her personal spending in the race to $119 million. Whitman's spending eclipses the record for personal contributions to an election campaign formerly held by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York.



Sponsored by

Photos From KQED Reporters

Rachel Dornhelm/KQED

Photos from KQED staffers out in the field on election night.

Video Explainers and More

This Week in Northern California news panel

KQED's This Week in Northern California has been following the state's most important races and ballot initiatives. Explore the video archive to see our complete coverage.

The Prop. 23 Money Trail

google map

Find the largest donors for and against Prop. 23.

Can California Get on Track?

Governing California logo

A series exploring how to repair what many consider to be a broken government.

For Educators

Visit our Civic Engagement Resources for Educators page for classroom-ready lesson plans, and other resources.