Back Proposition 89, Foil Special Interests
IS your voice being heard in Sacramento? Do you believe our
political system is working for you?
Over the past five years, big-money donors have written
more than $1.7 billion in checks of more than $5,000 to
influence politicians and buy elections in California. The
average check was $33,000 - far beyond the pocketbook of
For their millions, the big interests are able to elect
politicians who owe them favors, and they get them. It's a
transactional system of legalized corruption and it happens
every day in Sacramento.
Everywhere you look, the rest of us pay the price. Higher
charges at the pump, inflated HMO premiums, contaminated
food, rising chronic asthma rates from unhealthy air,
shoddy products, unrepaired schools and crowded highways.
Higher taxes for you while deep-pocket campaign donors get
big tax breaks and loopholes. Politicians unable or
unwilling to make the critical decisions we need for fear
of offending the biggest campaign contributors.
In August alone, special interests contributed $3.5 million
to current legislators and Senate and Assembly candidates.
For example, real estate and construction interests spent
heavily to block proposed restrictions on building in
floodplains. Oil companies contributed to choke off bills
targeting price gouging and air pollution.
Southern Californians are especially affected. When you
drive in bumper-to-bumper traffic, pollutants seep into
your car, making the air you breathe inside up to 10 times
more fouled than typical city air. If you live, work or go
to school near freeways or other high-traffic roads,
studies show a much greater risk for cancer and decreased
lung function. Yet millions are spent by the polluters to
kill bills to reduce emissions and produce more
Proposition 89 can put an end to this disgrace, and make
the politicians more accountable to the voters than to
their deep-pocket donors.
The proposition sets new limits on all contributions to
candidates or committees that try to influence candidate
elections. It bans contributions from lobbyists and
government contractors to candidates, and limits money
donations to initiative campaigns.
Further, Proposition 89 creates a level playing field so
regular Californians can run for office even if they are
not well-connected to special interests or lobbyists. It
provides a set amount of public funds to qualified
candidates who reject private money. And if politicians or
lobbyists break the law, they can be fined, thrown out of
office or put in jail.
Proposition 89 is based on a system now in place and
working well in Arizona, Maine and other cities and states,
where it has produced more choices for voters, more
competitive elections, lowered overall election costs, and
reduced the power of the biggest money interests.
As a newspaper headline in an article on the end of the
latest legislative session put it, "Checks Roll in as Laws
Flow Out." Are Californians fed up with this system? Those
who hold the reins in Sacramento today are banking we're
Insurance companies - who have put up 40 percent of the
funds against Proposition 89 - oil giants, big developers,
utilities and other entrenched interests are spending
heavily to defeat Proposition 89. Voters have a chance to
send them - and the politicians - a clear message on Nov.
Deborah Burger, RN, is president of the California Nurses
Association, the primary sponsor of the Yes on 89
See the article on Los Angeles Daily News website