Bill Tied to Deal Extending Term Limits for Lawmakers, Governor
Santa Monica, CA — State Senators approved an extra election with a $90 million price tag this afternoon that opens the door for some lawmakers and the governor — currently barred from running for office again — to return for third terms. The bill would leave the statewide primary in June while moving California’s presidential primary to February. A reputed deal would place an initiative extending term limits on the February 2008 ballot, allowing lawmakers a chance to run in June primaries and keep their jobs in November. Governor Schwarzenegger, out of office in 2010, is also rumored to be part of the term limit extension deal.
“I don’t like having to vote twice in the same year, let alone show up for three elections. If a February presidential primary is needed to preserve California’s political ego, then legislative primaries should be on that ballot. But the voters have already rendered their verdict: no more Trojan horses, no more extra elections, especially not to give incumbent politicians a job extension,” said Jamie Court, president of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR).
Among those termed-out politicians who otherwise would be looking for work is Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, a big booster of the early primary, and Senate Pro Tem Don Perata. None of the official authors of the bill leave the legislature in 2008.
“Three elections in one year at a $90 million cost to taxpayers only makes sense for the careers of termed out legislators and the governor,” said Carmen Balber of FTCR. “Term limits may well be worthy of reconsideration, but the Legislature should consider the issue in a separate debate, not by using the empty promise of national prominence in the presidential race.”
Eleven other states are proposing to move their presidential primaries to February 5. A twelfth, Florida, would move ahead of that date (and share a Democratic primary with South Carolina), and the Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada dates (for Democrats) are a week or more ahead. If California moves its primary the scheme is likely to backfire by front-loading the entire nomination process and waste $90 million in taxpayer money, said FTCR.
After a landslide defeat in the 2005 special election he ordered, Governor Schwarzenegger renounced his extra election, saying he wanted to tell the “Terminator to travel back in time to tell Arnold not to have a special election.”
Previous early March primaries in 1996, 2000, 2002 and 2004, when voters decided state legislative primaries as well as ballot measures, did not make a difference in California’s presidential relevance. Schwarzenegger signed a bill in 2004 moving the vote back to June.
SB 113 (Calderon) was approved on the Senate floor today with a 31 to 5 vote. It heads to the Assembly where the rush to send the bill to the governor is expected to continue.
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The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. More information is available on the web at: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org.