SAN FRANCISCO - Tuesday's presidential primary provided friendly territory for many of the local bond measures that shared the ballot in California.
In addition to picking their presidential preferences, the state's voters also rejected changes to the state's legislative term-limits law, while voters in six cities modified their telephone taxes.
Voters in 30 jurisdictions approved more than $4 billion in bond measures, all but one of them for school districts, according to early and unofficial results.
The winners included all six requests for $200 million or more, the biggest from the Palm Springs Unified School District. More than 61% of that district's voters approved its $516 million bond request for the 24,000-student district.
"The community really supported us and that shows they have faith in us," school board president Shari Stewart told the local Desert Sun newspaper.
Voters around the state turned down nine bond measures, worth $279 million, the largest being a $178 million request from the Napa Valley Community College District.
The numbers are not yet final, and late-arriving absentee ballots could yet change the fate of a handful of bond measures hovering around either side of the 55% level needed for passage in a school bond election.
State lawmakers, who are grappling with a projected $14.5 billion deficit in the coming fiscal year, will be doing so in the midst of leadership contests after voters Tuesday rejected Proposition 93, which would have modified term limits laws to permit 12 years of service in one house, instead of the 14 that must now be spread between the Assembly and Senate.
As a result, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, and Senate president pro tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, who would have seen their terms extended had Proposition 93 passed, both became lame ducks as chatter about who might succeed them spread in Sacramento.
The state's Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has grown comfortable negotiating with the pair, especially Nunez, and he had endorsed Proposition 93.
"I think we just have to move on now," he told reporters Wednesday.
Senate Minority Leader Dick Ackerman, R-Tustin, will also be termed out of office on schedule with the defeat of Prop 93.
Around the state, six cities went to voters to seek a modification of their utility user taxes on telephone bills, and all six were successful, according to results compiled by the California Local Government Finance Almanac.
"The measures all endeavored to respond to changes in telecommunications technology, billing practices and federal law, by modernizing their UUT ordinances to clearly and lawfully cover wireless telecommunications," according to the report.
Two cities modernized the taxes without changing the rates, while four cities pursued the tactic of lowering the overall tax rate on phone services while broadening the base to include services like cellular phones.
The most significant measure, financially, was in Los Angeles, where the passage of Proposition S should remove a threat to the city's already tight budget. The ballot measure, which passed with more than 65% of the vote, lowers the overall rate to 9% from 10% while explicitly including wireless services in the tax.
The tax rate will lower anticipated revenues by $27 million annually to $243 million, but it solidified an important component of the city's revenue base, according to a comment paper Standard & Poor's released Wednesday.
"More important than the $27 million decline in anticipated revenues, however, is the enhanced certainty of the revenue stream, which had been legally challenged under provisions of Proposition 218, passed by California voters in 1996," the Standard & Poor's paper said. "At issue in the court cases was the city's method of applying the tax, which began to be levied in 1967, to technologies not contemplated at the time, such as broadband telephone service and bundled local and long-distance calling. Litigants argued that when the city applied the telephone users' tax to wireless phone calls and newer technologies, it represented a tax increase, and therefore necessitated voter approval."
By obtaining that voter approval, the city appears to have headed off the legal challenge. Standard & Poor's rates Los AngelesAA with a stable outlook.
Voters turned down a state ballot measure that would have locked a community college funding formula into state law.
They also ratified four modified gambling compacts between the state and casino-owning Indian tribes. The Legislature and the governor approved the compacts last year, but opponents, largely owners of competing gambling venues in California, gathered enough petition signatures to refer the compacts to voters.
The compacts allow the four tribes to install more slot machines in their casino, while giving the state a bigger cut of the winnings from the extra devices. The four ballot measures each passed by a margin of about 56%-44%. q