ALAMEDA, Calif. — California Treasurer Bill Lockyer, after jousting with credit ratings agencies for most of his first term, says he’ll carry on if he wins re-election Tuesday.
“More work needs to be done reforming the rating agency system,” Lockyer said this week in a phone interview. “That’s incomplete and needs to continue.”
Lockyer, a Democrat, is up for re-election against Republican Mimi Walters, a state senator from Orange County.
Walters’ campaign did not respond to interview requests. On her campaign website, she said she would provide a fresh perspective in office compared to Lockyer, who has held elective office in Sacramento since 1973. “Thirty-seven years is too long for any politician,” she wrote.
Walters, whose resume includes executive positions with Drexel, Burnham Lambert and Kidder Peabody & Co., has held elective office since 1996, coming to Sacramento as a state senator in 2004.
Lockyer says he’s earned another term by demonstrating success in his first, through initiatives such as the Buy California Bonds program — which increased retail participation in state bond sales — and a track record navigating the treasurer’s office through the global financial crisis and a series of budget crises.
“I’ve led more bond sales than any treasurer in California history,” he said. “That’s resulted in billions of dollars for schools, roads, parks, and housing.”
The treasurer also takes credit for reviving the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority to promote renewable energy, and said he wants to see through efforts to modernize the back-office functions of the treasurer’s office to transition to electronic forms from paper.
The Lockyer-Walters race is just one on a very crowded statewide ballot. It is drawing relatively little attention compared to the top-of-the-ticket race for governor between Democratic attorney general and former governor Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman, who has blown away all records for self-financed campaigns by spending more than $140 million of her own money. Despite that, she is trailing Brown in recent polls.
There’s little chance of a significant shift in the highly gerrymandered Legislature, which will retain Democratic majorities but likely fall short of the two-thirds needed to approve a budget.
That could change, however, if voters approve Proposition 25 Tuesday. It would change the state constitution to allow passage of a budget with simple majority votes, as 47 other states do. It would also deny pay to lawmakers if the budget is late — this year California set a record with a 100-day delay.
New taxes would still require a two-thirds vote.
“Supermajorities for both budget and taxes have made California ungovernable,” Municipal Market Data wrote in its long-term outlook report published Wednesday.
The measure “could be a positive in the short run to mitigate the risk of long, drawn-out budget battles that prevent the state from accessing the market, which in worst cases leads to IOUs and failure to pay bills,” Richard Ciccarone, chief investment officer of McDonnell Investment Management LLC, wrote in a report this month.
“It could be a negative if budgets are passed based on tax increases that still need to be approved by two-thirds of voters,” he said. “If they reject the taxes, then budget gaps become more problematic later.”
Voters will also decide Proposition 26, which would require a two-thirds vote for the Legislature to pass fees, up from the current simple majority.
“This proposition would tighten the ropes on government budgets, especially in downturns,” Ciccarone wrote.
Voters will also decide Proposition 22, billed as a measure to protect local revenue sources from being taken by the state government.
Redevelopment agencies, which currently lack such protections that city and county governments have, would be major beneficiaries of the measure.
State Controller John Chiang, whose office has taken on a critical role in the recent budget and cas- flow crises by issuing IOUs in 2009 and managing payment deferrals, is up for re-election.
Chiang, a Democrat, faces Tony Strickland, a Republican state senator, in a rematch of the 2006 controller’s contest.
There are no state bond measures on the ballot this year. But there are 66 local debt measures, asking voters to approve $4.2 billion in bond authority.