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Both sides of majority-vote budget fight shine spotlight on their opponents

October 19, 2010 | 11:18 am

The major funders of initiatives to change the state's budget rules have a common message to California voters: Judge us by our enemies.

A group of healthcare advocates, environmental organizations and campaign-finance-reform groups held a press conference in Sacramento on Tuesday to highlight who was spending money to campaign against  Proposition 25. If passed, Proposition 25 would allow state lawmakers to pass a budget with a simple-majority vote instead of the current two-thirds requirement.

Proponents of Proposition 25 pointed out that more than $8 million had come from oil, alcohol and tobacco companies. But there were no representatives from service-employees or teachers unions on hand, even though those unions have given millions to the Yes on 25 campaign.

Derek Cressman, director of California Common Cause, said Proposition 25's opponents were "narrow special interests that don't want to see Proposition 25 passed." He said oil, alcohol and tobacco companies "benefit from budget gridlock in Sacramento. They use it to earn special carve-outs that hurt the taxpayers."

No on 25 spokeswoman Beth Miller said opponents of the measure constitute a "broad coalition of small businesses, taxpayer groups and other companies that want to stop hidden taxes in Sacramento." Miller said "it's a specious argument to talk about special interests given who is funding Proposition 25."

Efforts to streamline environmental regulations have become tangled in budget debates in recent years. But oil, alcohol and tobacco companies are among the companies most likely to be hit by user fees, which can be passed with a simple-majority vote and could be easier to raise if Proposition 25 becomes law.

-- Anthony York in Sacramento