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UPDATED: Voters reject all propositions except 1F

AP calls election before 10 p.m. with a third of votes tallied

Posted: May 19, 2009 7:59 p.m.
Updated: May 20, 2009 12:15 a.m.
 
UPDATED 12:15 a.m. Wednesday:

Polling stations for Tuesday's Statewide Special and Consolidated Elections closed at 8 p.m.

The California Secretary of State's staff began tallying votes as they were reported by 17,393 precincts across the state.

The-Signal.com posted the election's semi-official results as the Secretary of State's office released them through 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, when 83 percent of the vote had been counted.

Check back later Wednesday for further updates on the semi-official results, which will become official when the Secretary certifies them in June.

* * * * *

10:24 p.m. Tuesday: Associated Press writer Judy Lin filed this update on the defeat of Propositions 1A-1E:

LOS ANGELES (AP) - California voters on Tuesday rejected the slate of budget propositions presented by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers, tossing aside warnings of impending financial doom.

The overwhelming defeat of the special election package will worsen an already dire fiscal crisis in the nation's most populous state.

Earlier this year, the governor and lawmakers cut spending by $15 billion and raised sales, income and vehicle taxes by more than $12 billion, but those moves proved insufficient against the rapid decline in the state's economy.

Plunging tax revenue caused the deficit to re-emerge. It is now projected to hit $21.3 billion in the fiscal year that begins in July, nearly a quarter of the governor's proposed general fund spending.

Last week, the governor said he will consider shortening the school year by seven days, laying off up to 5,000 state employees and taking money from local governments, which likely would translate into cuts for police and firefighting services.

Tens of thousands of teachers also face the prospect of layoffs.

The ballot slate included a mix of reforms, higher taxes, borrowing and funding shifts. Voters approved one of the six propositions, a measure prohibiting pay raises for lawmakers and other state elected officials during deficit years.

It also included a race for the Southern California congressional race that opened when former Rep. Hilda Solis was named U.S. labor secretary. Democratic state Assemblyman Curren Price won an open Los Angeles-area state Senate race.

The election results marked the second time Schwarzenegger had been repudiated in a special election. Four years ago, voters rejected all four of the measures he described as government reform.

"Tonight we have heard from the voters and I respect the will of the people who are frustrated with the dysfunction in our budget system," he said in a statement. "Now we must move forward from this point to begin to address our fiscal crisis with constructive solutions."

He and legislative leaders were scheduled to meet Wednesday to begin discussing their options.

Schwarzenegger and lawmakers called the special election in February as part of a plan to solve a $42 billion deficit that had been projected through mid-2010.

* * * * *

9:40 p.m. Tuesday: Associated Press writer Juliet Williams reported the only measure to pass was Proposition 1F:

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pitched the measures on Tuesday's special election ballot as a short-term patch for the state's budget deficit and a long-term fix for a broken budgeting system.

Now, the governor faces problems on both fronts, after voters rejected four of five of the budget-balancing measures on the ballot. One remained undecided but was effectively moot.

"Tonight we have heard from the voters and I respect the will of the people who are frustrated with the dysfunction in our budget system," Schwarzenegger said in a statement late Tuesday. "Now we must move forward from this point to begin to address our fiscal crisis with constructive solutions."

The failure of the measures means California's budget deficit will grow by nearly $6 billion above the current $15.4 billion deficit, forcing Schwarzenegger to make further cuts to state programs already facing major rollbacks.

And because of the failure of Schwarzenegger's lynchpin measure, Proposition 1A, the fiscal roller coaster he has complained about since taking office is likely to continue, potentially undermining any other policy initiatives he would like to pursue during his remaining months in office.

That measure would have created a stronger rainy day fund for troubled times and capped state spending, while extending a series of tax increases lawmakers approved earlier this year.

The budget package signed by Schwarzenegger earlier this year that put the measures on Tuesday's ballot already raised taxes by $12.8 billion and cut $15 billion from state programs.

Voters also hold a low opinion of the Legislature and Schwarzenegger, who spent Election Day in Washington, D.C., where he joined a White House announcement of new auto requirements that will increase fuel-efficiency standards and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Schwarzenegger explained his decision to leave California by saying that President Barack Obama had asked him to be there for the announcement. The new auto rules were in response to a California clean-air regulation that the federal government previously had blocked the state from implementing.

"It was important to come here since California was the motivating force behind this agreement in the first place," Schwarzenegger said in a telephone interview. "We've been fighting that battle for seven years, playing the role of David here."

He was scheduled to return to California on Wednesday to meet with lawmakers and discuss options for the budget.

During his campaigning throughout California, the Republican governor encountered voters frustrated with the state's persistent budget problems. Voters have told him they want to know why he hasn't solved California's fiscal problems, as he promised to do when he was elected in the 2003 recall of Gov. Gray Davis.

Schwarzenegger has urged them to look beyond the immediate crisis. He has focused most of his energy on Proposition 1A, which would implement a state spending cap and rainy day fund in exchange for temporary tax increases.

That's the kind of reform California must have to avoid "being the poster child of dysfunction," he said.

"The people should know that this is about California's legacy," he said over the weekend at a Los Angeles-area church. "This is about California's future."

But voters also have heard this before. They took Schwarzenegger's advice in 2004 and voted for a rainy day fund, with the governor saying it would smooth out the wild swings in California's budget process.

Voters' antipathy about being asked again to decide state budget issues in a non-election year is reminiscent of 2005's special election, when a slate of Schwarzenegger reform efforts went down to defeat.

Even so, Californians will look to Schwarzenegger to lead them out of the state's latest fiscal disaster, said Barbara O'Connor, director of the Institute for the Study of Politics and Media at Sacramento State University.

"And they're going to have to listen the day after the election because the state's going to be out of money," she said.

* * * * *

9:21 p.m. Tuesday: The Associated Press reported voters had rejected Proposition 1A, and at 9:23 reported Proposition 1C had also failed to pass:

LOS ANGELES (AP) - California voters have rejected a ballot measure that would have created a state spending cap while prolonging temporary tax increases.

Proposition 1A was the centerpiece of efforts by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other state leaders to fix California's ongoing fiscal problems. It also would have strengthened the state's rainy day fund.

The measure's defeat means Proposition 1B, which would have restored more than $9 billion to schools, cannot be enacted even if voters approve it. That measure also was trailing in early returns Tuesday.

Proposition 1A generated the most opposition among the six measures on Tuesday's ballot. State employee unions opposed the spending cap, while anti-tax groups criticized the $16 billion in tax increases it would have triggered.

* * * * *

8:53 p.m. Tuesday: The Associated Press called Proposition 1F a winner:

LOS ANGELES (AP) - California voters say if the state is running a deficit, lawmakers shouldn't get a raise.

Voters in Tuesday's statewide special election approved on Proposition 1F by a large margin, capping pay raises for lawmakers and statewide officials whenever state government runs a deficit.

Lawmakers put the measure on the ballot as part of a state budget package intended to close a $42 billion state deficit. However, its passage will have little effect on the state's finances.

Five other measures pitched by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to help solve the state's budget deficit and broken budgeting system are trailing in early returns, with about 13 percent of precincts reporting.

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