Schwarzenegger, Angelides Use Ballot To Advance Campaigns
Both Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides "are exploiting" initiatives on November's ballot "to advance their campaigns and put the other guy on the defensive," MediaNews/San Jose Mercury News reports. Although Schwarzenegger and Angelides agree on most of the 13 measures, "their disagreements have taken center stage," according to Media News/Mercury News.
Angelides has endorsed Proposition 86, which would raise the state tobacco tax to fund health care, and Proposition 89, which would increase corporate taxes by 0.2% to publicly finance campaigns. Angelides also has said he opposes Proposition 85, which would require parents to be notified prior to performing an abortion on an unmarried minor.
Schwarzenegger has said he opposes Propositions 86 and 89 because they would raise taxes, and it "remains to be seen" whether he will endorse Proposition 85. Schwarzenegger, during last year's special election, endorsed a similar measure that failed on ballot (Folmar, MediaNews/San Jose Mercury News, 8/14).
The Board of Equalization, which oversees tobacco sales in California, has been asked by federal authorities to monitor sales of cigarettes for tax evasion linked to terrorist groups, the Ventura County Star reports.
According to board member Bill Leonard, "With California considering a rate of $2.60 a pack, it's basically an open beacon for terrorist groups to play games in California" (Hoops, Ventura County Star, 8/13) Proposition 86 would raise the tax on cigarettes to fund children's health insurance and other programs (California Healthline, 6/21).
Advocates of the initiative say ineffective enforcement, rather than taxes, determine crime levels, according to the Star. In addition, supporters say that Proposition 86 would allocate about 1% of revenue, or $20 million, to antismuggling efforts.
Board of Equalization officials said it is difficult to estimate how much the state loses annually from sales tax evasion on tobacco products, but its most recent estimate was $292 million per year. The California State Auditor said that estimate might have been inflated and a new estimate using broader data is expected to be released in the spring (Ventura County Star, 8/13).