Santa Monica, CA — A ballot initiative to extend legislative term limits was introduced today as part of a deal that would force California voters to the polls three times in 2008 at a taxpayer cost of up to $90 million. A bill to split the presidential and statewide primaries was approved by the Senate two days ago. Combined, the primary and term limit schemes call an extra election in 2008 to give termed-out politicians — including Senate Pro Tem Perata and Assembly Speaker Núñez — a chance to remain in office for four to six more years.
“California taxpayers shouldn’t be stuck with a $90 million extra election just so termed-out politicians can hold on to their power and perks,” Carmen Balber, consumer advocate with the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR). “If California’s primary must be in February, legislative primaries should move to February too.”
Previous early March primaries in 1996, 2000, and 2004 included both presidential and legislative races. A bipartisan bill signed in 2004 moved the vote back to June.
Legislation moving the presidential primary, SB 113 (Calderon), was approved by the Senate and sent to the Assembly on Tuesday. The Assembly should amend the bill and combine the two primaries, said FTCR.
If California moves its primary the plan is likely to backfire by front-loading the entire nomination process, said FTCR. 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.
California voters resoundingly rejected the extra election called by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2005.
FTCR’s letter of opposition to SB 113 is at: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/sb113.pdf.
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