Ballots for Californias Nov. 8 special election already have gone to the printers, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state legislature still are posturing about the initiatives that are set to appear on them. Tucked between issues related to parental abortion consent and prescription drug benefits are some controversial matters that could impact construction.
The governors "spending limits" initiative would protect against raids on funding for Proposition 42, the 2002 measure that earmarked $2.4 billion for transportation projects in the next two fiscal years. Only $295 million so far has been spent for projects, claims Michael Lawson, executive director, of one lobby group, Transportation California. "Protecting those funds is an annual fight and this would help protect the money earmarked by voters," says Dave Ackerman, another industry lobbyist.
Proposition 80 is a last-minute ballot addition, placed there by a California Supreme Court ruling in late July. Judges said voters should voice their opinion on the Electric Consumer Protection Initiative before courts assess its constitutionality. Proposition 80 eliminates the possibility of customers being allowed in the future to switch from one utility provider to another. It also requires private utilities to increase procurement of renewable energy by at least 1% each year.
One initiative sponsor believes the measure will spur investment in new utility plants in California. But Jan Smutney-Jones, a spokesman for an opponent, Sacramento-based Independent Energy Producers, says it would create more market chaos and lead to problems with reliability. "Changing the rules one more time is not the way to do energy," Smutney-Jones says.