This week, attorneys for the California Secretary of State's Office and Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) campaign for a compromise tax hike initiative responded to a lawsuit filed by an anti-tax group by saying that it is too late to renumber November ballot initiatives, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports (Yamamura, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 8/1).
In June, Brown signed the fiscal year 2012-2013 budget deal, which includes revenue from the compromise tax hike plan developed by Brown and supporters of the "Millionaires Tax."
As part of the budget agreement, Brown approved AB 1499, which prioritizes bonds and constitutional amendments on voting ballots.
Since the compromise tax hike plan is considered a constitutional amendment, it would be placed near the top of the ballot under AB 1499.
In July, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association filed a lawsuit alleging that lawmakers violated state law by using a majority-vote budget bill to move the compromise tax hike plan to the top of the ballot.
The group argues that the measure is unrelated to carrying out the provisions of the state's general fund budget (California Healthline, 7/11).
Response to Lawsuit
In their court response to the lawsuit, attorneys for Secretary of State Debra Bowen (D) and Brown's tax hike campaign provided no legal arguments defending the measure.
Instead, they presented logistical difficulties with reordering ballot measures after the initiatives already were assigned spaces on the ballot by Bowen last month.
Attorneys for Brown's tax hike campaign said that rescinding the ballot numbers would disrupt the election process and cause confusion among campaigns.
Thomas Willis, attorney for Brown's tax hike campaign, added, "Beyond the printing and distribution of ballot materials, any change in the proposition numbers would also cause voter confusion" because the media and campaign committees "have been referring to the measures almost exclusively by number over the last three weeks."
In addition, he said that reordering the ballot initiatives would cause "significant financial loss to most of the campaign committees" because they typically print materials for the initiatives in bulk early in the election process.
Lawyers for Bowen said that the secretary has no authority to ignore laws passed by legislators ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 8/1).