I think Prop 15 is the most complicated ballot measure we’re being asked to vote on in this June’s Gubernatorial Primary, but I’m going to simplify it as much as I can. There are plenty of sources out there where you can learn the history and analyze the numbers.*
In the broadest terms, Prop 15 is about campaign finance reform for the State of California (not federal government, not local government, but the state).
Many types of campaign finance reform have been suggested over the years, but Prop 15 is limited to one type — public financing of certain campaigns, using money raised mostly from a large increase in fees charged to lobbyists operating at the state level.
Candidates could qualify for public financing by collecting a certain number of $5 contributions from individuals, and then promising to abide by limits on the amount of money they would collect and spend for their campaigns.
If it passes, Prop 15 would be implemented for the California Secretary of State campaigns of 2014 and 2018. After that, the state legislature would be authorized to make a decision on whether public financing should be continued and/or extended to other offices.
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*Ballotpedia is probably the best starting point. It includes a rundown on relevant litigation. See http://www.ballotpedia.com/wiki/index.php/California_Proposition_15,_Public_Funding_of_Some_Elections_(June_2010)
Frances Talbott-White has lived in Culver City since 1975. She holds various positions at state, county, and local levels of the League of Women Voters (LWV) but writes for Culver City Crossroads as an independent citizen. Nothing Frances says in this column should be construed as an official statement of LWV or a reflection of LWV policy.