Judy Chu Judy Chu

Now what?

Lawmakers scramble for answers after ballot measures crash and burn; Chu advances to runoff

By Joe Piasecki 05/21/2009

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California voters appeared to send the state’s political leadership a pointed message in Tuesday’s do-or-die Special Election: Stop spending our money — and no more raises!

While many chose to avoid the polls (the Secretary of State’s Office is reporting statewide voter participation of just under 23 percent and only 17. 4 percent in LA County), nearly two-thirds of those who showed up opposed Propositions 1A through 1E, a series of financial schemes hatched by the governor and leaders of both parties to stop the state’s financial hemorrhaging by reforming budget practices and diverting funds from some state programs.

Punctuating their dissatisfaction, nearly three in four voters statewide supported Proposition 1F, which prevents state officers and elected officials from receiving raises when the state is running a deficit.

Meanwhile, state Board of Equalization member Judy Chu came out on top in a 12-candidate primary race to replace former Congresswoman and current Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. Chu received 15,338 votes (more than 31 percent of the nearly 50,000 cast), followed by state Sen. Gil Cedillo, who received 23 percent.

Chu, a Democrat, will face Libertarian Christopher Agrella and top Republican finisher Monterey Park City Councilwoman Betty Tom Chu, who came in fourth overall with 10.4 percent support, in a July 14 runoff election.

So now that most of the propositions have failed, what’s next?

As Pasadena Democratic state Assemblyman Anthony Portantino and other local pols warned in this newspaper last week, officials must now consider making even more drastic cuts to services and social programs.

Possible local impacts include reduced funding for cities and school districts, forcing up to $11 million in cuts at the Pasadena Unified School District, according to Board of Education members.

“There’s no question the choices are going to be difficult and the public wants to see more specifics coming from all of us,” said Portantino on election night. “These measures were broad-based. I think the general results [show voters would] like to see a more focused nexus between what the dollars go for and what they’re paying for.”

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