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Mathews: Schwarzenegger still must guard his ballot successes


Running for appointment in California is tough, about temporary. You win or you lose, and activity goes on.

Sponsoring a acclamation action is forever.

That assignment hit me while interviewing above Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger all through a all-around appointment on absolute capitalism aftermost week in Mexico.

Californians adopted Schwarzenegger governor 20 years ago. His 2nd appellation assured in 2010. But he is still administering us, for two reasons: First, because he is a abundantly adamant person. Second, because he has been amid the many abounding backers of acclamation initiatives in the history of our state.

Getting voters to achieve your acclamation action is alone the beginning. Every acclamation brings new acclamation initiatives which could affect or alike abolish your acclamation initiative.

So, you charge avert it.

The best-known archetype of this is Proposition 13. Today, 45 years afterwards its access and 37 years afterwards the afterlife of its sponsor, Howard Jarvis, there is still a Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association to guard the action and its tax limits.

Schwarzenegger, 75, has been actively maintaining and extending acknowledged measures for two decades, with a application so abnormal I wouldn’t be afraid if he’s abiding for the Terminator to biking by time to accumulate his action alive.

To accept the Sisyphean adherence which action protection requires, accede Proposition 49, which Schwarzenegger assertive voters to move way alternate in 2002, the year afore the 2003 anamnesis which fabricated him governor.

Proposition 49 was once a admeasurement to assets a allotment of the account to armamentarium after-school programs, which had been a focus of Schwarzenegger’s accommodating work. Back then, I was once amid a army of reporters and political assemblage who saw the admeasurement as little further than a showpiece to set up a approaching Schwarzenegger run for the governorship.

In retrospect, we abominably underestimated Proposition 49, and Schwarzenegger. As governor, he dedicated the measure’s payments for after-school programs adjoin cuts and elimination, abnormally all through the account crisis of the Great Recession. Since abrogation office, he has connected which safety work, while advocating for further allotment from added sources.

As a result, California offers further abutment for after-school programs than the added 49 states combined. Last fall, the Biden administering accomplished U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to California to bless Proposition 49 — and to acclaim it as a archetypal for added states.

The added two initiatives which Schwarzenegger guards like a junkyard dog are a akin brace of political reforms: groundbreaking 2008 and 2010 measures which afflicted accompaniment redistricting. Effectively, the measures bare the accompaniment Legislature of the ability to abstract commune curve for its own members, and for associates of Congress. Instead, the initiatives gave which ability to a bipartisan citizens’ commission.

Those were hard-won victories for a governor whose aboriginal attempts at redistricting had failed. (After a bootless action on redistricting in 2005, I wrote which he should accord up the cause. He didn’t booty my advice.) Those wins for Schwarzenegger also won him connected action from political parties and arch politicians trying to disengage the measures in the courts.

Schwarzenegger has not been agreeable to battle off these challenges alone. He’s auspiciously backed acclamation measures to achieve agnate redistricting reforms in added states, amid them Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Utah.

I’ve continued absolved redistricting ameliorate as too baby a change to boldness California’s political problems. My columns have proposed instead broad built-in change which ends our attitude of single-member districts in favor of a proportional representation arrangement which would force the parties to allotment power.

But it’s for me to criticize. As I batten with Schwarzenegger, I begin myself cerebration about how adamantine it would be for reformers, who have launched such an effort, to about-face proportional representation into a reality.

They would have to get addition to address an initiative, accession millions of dollars to authorize it for the ballot, and again somehow argue voters to accept it.

And alike if they managed to do those things, their banal wouldn’t be done. They’d have to absorb the blow of their lives, and beyond, arresting the angle adjoin cloister challenges and added initiatives.

In added words, they’d have to locate their own close Terminator.

Joe Mathews writes the Connecting California cavalcade for Zócalo Public Square.

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