LOS ANGELES — Election night was successful for California Gov. Jerry Brown, who easily won re-election while persuading voters to approve two ballot measures with municipal market implications.
Brown rolled up more than 58% of the vote to coast to victory against Republican Neel Kashkari.
The two ballot measures he spearheaded fared even better.
Both Proposition 1, authorizing $7.5 billion of state general obligation bonds for water supply infrastructure projects, and Proposition 2, requiring annual transfers of state general fund revenues to a budget stabilization account, won with more than two-thirds of the vote.
Brown barely campaigned for his own re-election, working instead to boost the two ballot measures.
In a press briefing Wednesday, Brown said "he really appreciated the vote of confidence from voters to give me an unprecedented fourth term."
Brown served as governor from 1975 to 1983 before returning to the state's highest office four years ago.
The governor received an independent endorsement for Proposition 2 the day after it passed, when Standard & Poor's cited the measure as a primary reason for upgrading California GOs to A-plus from A.
"In our view, the new state constitutional provision will partially mitigate California's volatile revenue structure by setting aside windfall revenue for use during periods when state tax revenue could fall materially short of forecast," S&P analyst David Hitchcock said in a statement.
Although voters cited concern about California's severe drought in polls leading up to the election, projects financed by the bonds in Proposition 1 will come too late to mitigate its impact.
In a report released Wednesday after the election, Fitch Ratings said the bond is not likely to impact the state's water agencies' credit quality in the short-term.
"The water bond continues a long tradition of state water policymaking in which droughts force the state and its local water agencies to make major investments in long-term supply reliability," Fitch analysts wrote. "In our view, these investments are among the main reasons the current extreme drought impact has had little impact on credit ratings thus far."
The bonds will be issued by a new treasurer, John Chiang. The Democrat won the treasurer's race with 57.7% of the vote to Republican Greg Conlon's 42.3%.
"I am very excited," Chiang said. "It has been a blessing to serve as state controller for the last eight years. I look forward to working in the treasurer's office to make sure we strengthen California's position as a global leader."
Chiang attributed his victory to his consistency as controller in focusing on education, transparency and accountability. He plans to scrutinize closely plans to issue new debt, but sees improving the state's crumbling infrastructure as a priority.
"California is the eighth largest economy," Chiang said. "If we are going to be a rising power, we have to have an infrastructure that enables us to be competitive, but we also have to make sure that costs don't exceed revenues during the down cycle."
The California treasurer's office is in charge of the state's bond issuance, picking the underwriters, advisors and attorneys who put the deals together and sell them.
Democrat Betty Yee defeated Fresno's Republican mayor, Ashley Swearengin, by 52.8% to 47.2% in the race to replace Chiang as controller.
Charter school advocates' hopes were dashed when a charter school founder, Marshall Tuck, was unable to overcome incumbent State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.
The race was well funded, as California's teachers union spent heavily to back its ally Torlakson. The office overseeing public schools is not particularly powerful but the race was fought as a referendum on charter schools and teacher tenure in the wake of a recent court ruling that found the state's tenure and layoff policies for public school teachers to violate the constitutional rights of students.
Tuck supported the ruling and Torlakson criticized it.
"I can't think of a down-ticket office in recent memory that has received so much attention," Dan Schnur, executive director of the Unruh Institute of Politics at USC, during a Monday press briefing.. "What you are seeing in this race is a predictor for a very long and divisive debate over education reform in California."
Preliminary numbers show 80% or 89 of 113 California school bond measures passed, authorizing $9.3 billion of the $11.8 billion districts requested, according to Michael Coleman, principal fiscal policy advisor to the League of California Cities, and creator of CaliforniaCityFinance.com.
Outside of education, 70% of the 147 non-school local revenue measures passed, Coleman said.
The passage rate for the preliminary results is matching up with historic rates where 8 out of 10 school bond measures usually pass, Coleman said.
"A number of them are still close," Coleman said. "Four are within 1% of passing, five are within 1.5% of passing and 10 are within 3% of passing."
Increasing numbers of Californians using absentee ballots could also change the results in coming weeks, Coleman said.
All 113 school bond measures need 55% voter approval to pass. Coleman said the passage rate for these types of bonds is 85% - much higher than GO bond measures from cities and other local governments, which require a two-thirds supermajority.
Of the four non-school bond measures proposed, the largest was a $500 million transportation infrastructure bond for San Francisco, which received a resounding yes from voters with 71.2% in favor.
Two of the larger school bond measures, Moreno Valley Unified School District seeking a $398 million GO authorization and Santa Clara USD seeking $419 million passed, but North Orange County CCD's measure for $574 million appeared just shy of the 55% needed with 54.4% supporting the measure.