This article is from Cal-Tax Digest, published
by the California Taxpayers' Association.
Cal-Tax Home Page | About Cal-Tax | Subscribe
 July 1998

Catching Up
Voters Reject Proposition 224

Labeled the chief issue for the business community on the June 2 primary election ballot, Proposition 224 drew one of the most impressive opposition coalitions in recent California political history.

Taxpayer, business, labor and education groups - more than 800 of them - lined up against the initiative that sought to make it more difficult for the private sector to engage in competitive delivery of government services.

Early polling showed that most voters responded favorably to the deceptive campaign for Proposition 224. However, the opposition campaign educated voters with a strong "tell-it-like-it-is" message. It resonated with editorial boards, as all major newspapers in the state opposed the initiative, and with voters.

Sixty-two percent of the voters rejected the initiative, repudiating the effort led by the union of state-employed highway engineers at Caltrans, who desire a public monopoly on design and engineering work. The initiative would have created a rigged bidding system with private companies at a disadvantage.

Cal-Tax President Larry McCarthy and Research Director Stephen Kroes helped carry the no-on-224 message to voters in radio talk shows, debates, written commentaries, and television and radio commercials.

"California voters should be applauded for seeing through the self-serving and deceptive attempt by Caltrans bureaucrats to create a monopoly for themselves," Mr. McCarthy said. "Voters repudiated the state bureaucrats' efforts and refused to be deceived."

Allan Zaremberg, president of the California Chamber of Commerce and leader of the anti-224 coalition, said, "Voters were not fooled by this self-serving jobs grab brought to them by Caltrans bureaucrats."

Mr. McCarthy added, "The public wants to limit the growth of government bureaucracy. The way to do that is to take advantage of the expertise the private sector has to offer."